March 20, 2014

All visitors to the United States, whether traveling with a B1-B2 visitor visa, or under the Visa Waiver Program, must be seeking admission for a trip whose purpose is lawful, temporary and finite. Visitors always have the burden of proving that they will return home, as evidenced by sufficient family, property, business or financial ties to the home country to indicate a strong likelihood of prompt return.

Reasons for denial of an application for a B1-B2 visitor visa at a US Embassy abroad, or refusal of admission as a visitor at a US Port of Entry (airport or land border) may include any indicators that the traveler plans to seek employment while in the US, or plans to enroll in school, or plans to pursue permanent residence – an engagement ring on the hand or an original birth certificate in the luggage are red flags for intent to immigrate. A round-trip airline ticket by itself is often not sufficient to prove intent to return to the home country, and could be undermined by a visitor taking inconsistent actions before a planned trip, such as quitting a steady job, or selling a home or a vehicle, as these indicate a lack of intent to return soon.

1.) Do I need to apply for a visa?

If you are a citizen of one of the 37 countries currently participating in the Visa Waiver Program, which are listed by the US Department of State, and you plan to visit the United States for 90 days or less, then in most cases you do not need to apply for a machine-readable B1-B2 visitor visa stamp at a US Embassy.

If you are from a Visa Waiver country but you need to stay longer than 90 days, or if you are not a citizen of a Visa Waiver country, or if you have ever previously overstayed a period of lawful admission to the US, even by one day, then you will need to apply for a visa to come to the United States.

When traveling to the United States without a visa under the Visa Waiver Program, you will need to register for ESTA, the Electronic System for Travel Authorization before you can board a US-bound international flight.

2.) What if I have been denied a visa before, or denied admission under the VWP?

Then you should consult with counsel for case-specific advice before you spend time, money and effort on a new visa application.

3.) Why didn’t the interviewing officer look at my documents?

Some countries have more prevalent fraud than others, and in places where the US Embassy receives a large volume of visa applications, they may often see fabricated or altered documents, which can make the consular officers more skeptical of all documents, even those that, are legitimate. Also, they may look for demeanor and behavioral cues in addition to documents.

4.) Can I appeal from a denial of a visa?

No, due to a policy of consular non-reviewability, a visa denial cannot be appealed. You may be able to re-apply, but you cannot appeal the consular officer’s decision to deny your application for a visa.

If you have any questions about B1-B2 visitor visas, or the Visa Waiver Program, contact Karin Wolman.