Visa Delays and Denials

Throughout the U.S. student visa process you may experience delays scheduling appointments or receiving a decision. It is important to plan ahead and be prepared for each step of the process. Visa denials are rare and can often be prevented by planning ahead and preparing for the visa interview. If you do receive a refusal or denial, it is important you consult with ISSS.

Receive a Visa Refusal?

If you receive a visa refusal, you should have been given a reason and documentation from the US Consulate to understand why. It is important for you to provide information to ISSS as soon as possible and also attempt to schedule another visa interview. Please complete our brief survey to gather the following information:

  • Babson Program
  • Date of interview
  • Location of interview (U.S. Consulate/Embassy)
  • Reason for the denial and/or code - i.e. 214 (b), 221(g), etc
  • Details of conversation - specific questions asked and your responses
  • Attach any handouts from the Consulate
  • Detailed description of past any visa issues or denials
  • Was this appointment scheduled through an emergency request?
  • Whether you have scheduled another interview and if yes, the date and location

An advisor will review the details of your situation and offer any advice in preparation for your next scheduled interview.

Frequently Asked Questions

The United States is an open society. Unlike many other countries, the United States does not impose internal controls on most visitors, such as registration with local authorities. In order to enjoy the privilege of unencumbered travel in the United States, aliens have a responsibility to prove they are going to return abroad before a visitor or student visa is issued. Our immigration law requires consular officers to view every visa applicant as an intending immigrant until the applicant proves otherwise.

Strong ties differ from country to country, city to city, individual to individual. Some examples of ties can be a job, a house, a family, a bank account. "Ties" are the various aspects of your life that bind you to your country of residence: your possessions, employment, social and family relationships.

As a U.S. citizen or legal permanent resident, imagine your own ties in the United States. Would a consular office of a foreign country consider that you have a residence in the United States that you do not intend to abandon? It is likely that the answer would be "yes" if you have a job, a family, if you own or rent a house or apartment, or if you have other commitments that would require you to return to the United States at the conclusion of a visit abroad. Each person's situation is different.

Our consular officers are aware of this diversity. During the visa interview they look at each application individually and consider professional, social, cultural and other factors. In cases of younger applicants who may not have had an opportunity to form many ties, consular officers may look at the applicants specific intentions, family situations, and long-range plans and prospects within his or her country of residence. Each case is examined individually and is accorded every consideration under the law.

Section 214(b) is part of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA). It states:

Every alien shall be presumed to be an immigrant until he establishes to the satisfaction of the consular officer, at the time of application for admission, that he is entitled to a nonimmigrant status...

"To qualify for a visitor or student visa, an applicant must meet the requirements of sections 101(a)(15)(B) or (F) of the INA respectively. Failure to do so will result in a refusal of a visa under INA 214(b). The most frequent basis for such a refusal concerns the requirement that the prospective visitor or student possess a residence abroad he/she has no intention of abandoning. Applicants prove the existence of such residence by demonstrating that they have ties abroad that would compel them to leave the U.S. at the end of the temporary stay. The law places this burden of proof on the applicant.

Our consular officers have a difficult job. They must decide in a very short time if someone is qualified to receive a temporary visa. Most cases are decided after a brief interview and review of whatever evidence of ties an applicant presents.

No. The consular officer will reconsider a case if an applicant can show further convincing evidence of ties outside the United States. Your friend, relative or student should contact the embassy or consulate to find out about reapplication procedures. Unfortunately, some applicants will not qualify for a nonimmigrant visa, regardless of how many times they reapply, until their personal, professional, and financial circumstances change considerably.

It is recommended to carefully review your situation and evaluate ties. Write down on paper what qualifying ties you think you have which may not have been evaluated at the time of the interview with the consular officer. Also, if there was a visa refusal, review what documents (if any) were submitted for the consul to consider.

Applicants refused visas under section 214(b) may reapply for a visa. When they do, they will have to show further evidence of their ties or how their circumstances have changed since the time of the original application. It may help to answer the following questions before reapplying: (1) Did I explain my situation accurately? (2) Did the consular officer overlook something? (3) Is there any additional information I can present to establish my residence and strong ties abroad?

Keep in mind that a nonrefundable application fee is required each time they apply for a visa, regardless of whether a visa is issued.

While you can be prepared with a letter of invitation or support, visa applicants must qualify for the visa according to their own circumstances. The U.S. Department of State has stated repeatedly a letter of invitation or support is not necessary and disregarded by a visa officer because it has no bearing on the application. 

Immigration law delegates the responsibility for issuance or refusal of visas to consular officers overseas.

They have the final say on all visa cases. By regulation the U.S. Department of State has authority to review consular decisions, but this authority is limited to the interpretation of law, as contrasted to determinations of facts. The question at issue in such denials, whether an applicant possesses the required residence abroad, is a factual one. Therefore, it falls exclusively within the authority of consular officers at our Foreign Service posts to resolve. An applicant can influence the post to change a prior visa denial only through the presentation of new convincing evidence of strong ties.

It is important to keep ISSS update on your situation to ensure that any additional guidance can be provided.

A consular officer will either issue or refuse the visa.  However, in accordance with Department procedures, a consular officer may determine that additional information may help establish an applicant’s eligibility for a visa.  In such cases, refused visa applications warrant further administrative processing.

This is sometimes referred to as a refusal under 221(g). Upon completion of the case-specific administrative processing, the consular officer might conclude that an applicant is now qualified for the visa for which he or she applied. Alternatively, the officer may conclude that the applicant remains ineligible for a visa.  When administrative processing is required, the consular officer will inform the applicant at the end of the interview. The duration of the administrative processing will vary based on the individual circumstances of each case - but can average about two months. 

Issues that may trigger administrative processing include:

  • Nature of research/study may be considered a “sensitive technology”
  • Inconsistent spelling of your name
  • Your name is similar to others in the consular system requiring further investigation
  • If you are from North Korea, Cuba, Syria, Sudan, Iran and Libya, you will likely be subject to an additional security clearance process that can take several months.

While, there is no way to expedite this review process, you may find some guidance under Administrative Processing on the website of the consulate at which you applied for your visa.

Review full details on the Department of State 's Administrative Processing webpage.