Dear SRW Border Lawyers,
From 2009 to 2010, I was in the United States on a J1 visa. I returned to my home country when the internship ended. I returned to the United States again with another J1 visa from 2011-2012. I returned to my home country in June of 2012 and graduated from college.
My best friend lives in the United States and she is planning on being married in 2013. In August of 2012, I applied for a B1/B2 visitor visa to help her organize her wedding and to travel the United States for a short time (while I was in the United States on my J1 visas, I did not get an opportunity to travel). At the visa interview the consular officer denied my application due to INA § 214(b). I was told to try again at another time once I was able to provide evidence of stronger ties to my home country.
A few weeks later, my sister wanted to go to New York City and asked me to go with her. I applied for another visa, but this time I brought more evidence of stronger ties. I was denied again pursuant to INA § 214(b).
While I do not much care about visiting New York City, I do not want to miss my best friend’s wedding late next year. I was really put off about ever applying for another visa again from this one Consul, and I am hoping that whatever was written in my file is not so severe that it would affect my ability to get a visa to visit the United States, especially as I have not done anything illegal.
What advice would you give on how I can strengthen my ties to my home country so that I can travel to the United States for my friend’s wedding?
Thank you for your question. You indicate in your email that you were denied pursuant to INA § 214(b). INA § 214(b) 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 a visa, and the immigration officers, at the time of application for admission, that he is entitled to a nonimmigrant status under section 101(a)(15) .”
In essence, INA § 214(b) is a presumption that all visa applicants are intending immigrants, unless they are able to establish to the satisfaction of the consular officer or immigration officer that they are entitled to the nonimmigrant visa that they are applying for. The 214(b) analysis is two-part: (1) can the visa applicant prove that they have strong enough ties to their home county, and (2) is the applicant eligible for the visa that they are applying for.
Based on your email, it appears that you were unable to establish strong ties to your home country. Evidence of “strong ties” can be documented in various ways. Some of the more common evidence submitted with a visa application include: mortgages, leases, utility bills (gas, electric, cable, internet), employment letters, and insurances (home, car). Thus, if you are unable to provide such information at this time, you will want to take steps to begin to develop those ties. For example, begin renting an apartment, or put utilities in your name. Young adults are at a disadvantage when it comes to proving ties, since they most likely have not established themselves (i.e. purchased a home, been employed for a considerable amount of time by the same employer).
In addition, from the information you have provided in your question, I also believe that your previous time in the United States in J1 status was working against your B-1/B-2 visa applications. For example, prior to your first visa interview, you had just returned to your home county after spending a significant amount of time in the United States. Your second attempt, which was shortly after your first, still did not allow for a significant passage of time since returning to your home country. Thus, based on your presumptive lack of strong ties to your home county and your previous time in the United States in J-1 status, the Consular Officer was not persuaded that you would return home following your visit to the United States and denied your application.
Simply put, you will likely have to wait before applying for a visitor visa. In the meantime, however, you should begin to develop ties to your home country so you can overcome INA § 214(b). Once you have developed significant ties, please contact our office so that we can further assist you with the preparation of your visa application.