Why Do Visitor Visas to the U.S. Get Denied?

It is very common in our practice for clients to reach out to us because they had their visitor visa denied.   They are seeking tips on how to get their visitor visa to the U.S. approved.  Often the denial was because of something called Section 214(b).


In this article, we are going to discuss what Section 214(b) is, as well as some tips on how to get your visitor visa approved.   Then we will answer some common questions related to 214(b).  


We are Ashoori Law, led by Michael Ashoori, a U.S. immigration lawyer based in Los Angeles, California.  At our law firm we work with clients from all over the world.  We post articles and videos to make sure that you are up to date with the latest immigration news.  If, after reading this article, you have more questions, then we invite you to contact us at Ashoori Law.  Feel free to call us at +1-818-741-1117 or you may schedule a free consultation by clicking this link.


What is the Significance of Section 214(b)?


Section 214(b) of the United States Immigration and Nationality Act states that: “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 that he is entitled to non-immigrant status.”


This means that the immigration officer reviewing your case is required to presume that you are an “intending immigrant.”  The officer must assume that you are coming to the United States to stay permanently, unless you convince the officer otherwise.  It is your job to prove to the officer that you are not planning on staying beyond your visit.  In other words, the burden of proof rests upon the individual seeking the visitor visa.


Most visitor visa denials fall under 214(b). This means that the applicant did not convince the immigration officer that he or she is going to leave the United States at the end of the visit.


How Do I Convince an Immigration Officer that I Do Not Intend to Stay Permanently?


With the exception of certain categories of visas (such as the H, R and L visas), most other visa applicants must be able to convince the immigration officer of the following:


  •   that you intend to return to your home country following a temporary stay in the United States; 
  •   that your financial situation is such that you can afford the trip without having to seek unauthorized employment in the United States; and 
  •   that the travel is for legitimate purposes permitted by the visa category for which you  are applying.


The law requires you to establish residence in a foreign country, which you have no intention of abandoning. You establish residence by documenting your social, family, economic and other ties to your home country.  These ties must, without question, motivate you to depart the United States at the end of your visit.


For example, you can explain to the immigration officer that you own property in your home country which you would not abandon.  Another example would be that you have a family in your home country, and that they depend on you. There is no single factor that will establish ties to your home country.  You need to explain your situation to overcome the presumption that you intend to remain in the U.S. 


Is a Denial Under Section 214(b) Permanent?


Generally, no.  An immigration officer may consider your case again if you can provide additional evidence.  An example of additional evidence might be obtaining employment in your home country, which you must return to at the end of your visit.


Note that some applicants will not be eligible for a visa no matter how many times they apply, unless they can show a change in circumstances.  Also, applicants should wait for a period of time, usually at least six months, between applying for a nonimmigrant visa. 


Are There Certain Papers that are Required to Obtain a Visitor Visa?


Beyond the appropriate application for a visitor visa, there are no set number of documents that you must bring.  In other words, obtaining a nonimmigrant visa is not about having the “right papers.”  Rather, you need to convince an immigration officer that you have sufficient ties to your home country to overcome the presumption that you intend to stay in the United States.  Thus, bring as much documentation as possible to overcome this presumption and avoid a 214(b) denial. 


Why Was My Student Visa Refused? 


For a student visa, you must show three things: (1) that you are bona fide student; (2) that you can pay for your education in the United States; and (3) that you have strong ties to your home country and, thus, intend to leave the U.S. when your education is finished.  If you have difficulty proving those three things to an immigration officer, then the officer is required by U.S. law to refuse the visa.


Can I Seek a Visitor Visa While I Have an Immigration Visa Pending?


Generally, no.  As noted above, to obtain a visitor visa, you need to show that you have no intention of staying in the U.S. permanently.  Thus, if you are also seeking permanent status in the United States, then the presumption is generally that you do intend to stay in the United States. As such, your pending application for permanent status in the U.S. will undermine any application for a visitor visa.  




Section 214(b) is typically the reason why visitor visas are denied.  Therefore, before you speak with the immigration officer, you must prepare your evidence to show that you do not intend to stay in the U.S. permanently.  


My name is Michael Ashoori and I'm a U.S. immigration lawyer and the founder of Ashoori Law. As an immigration lawyer, I help families, professionals, investors, and entrepreneurs get visas, green cards, and citizenship to the United States.  If you have any questions, feel free to schedule a free consultation by clicking this link.

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Michael Ashoori, Esq.

U.S. Immigration Lawyer

I’m a U.S. immigration lawyer and I help families, professionals, investors, and entrepreneurs get visas, green cards, and citizenship to the United States.

Since starting my law firm, I’ve helped hundreds of people from all over the world with their immigration needs. I’m very passionate, hard-working, and committed to my clients.

Got a question? Send me an email.