Based on several years of working with tourist visa applications for the United States, I have compiled the most common reasons for visa denials.
We will be discussing refusals of tourist/guest/business visas for the US – B1/B2.
Why are US visas denied?
Anyone applying to the United States embassy for a visa is considered a potential immigrant until proven otherwise. This is the law of the United States.
On this simple basis, various reasons for visa denials are constructed.
The US embassy obtains 99% of the applicant’s information from two main sources – the DS-160 form and your responses during the visa interview.
Yes, there are administrative checks as well, but they are rare and do not affect the statistics of refusals.
In most cases, a refusal is due not to one but several reasons, which I have outlined below.
Unclear travel purpose
It is the purpose of the trip that not everyone attaches enough importance to. A vague travel purpose that the applicant cannot formulate clearly leads to a visa refusal.
When you answer the officer’s question, “Why do you want to go to the US?” with a short “tourism,” it can lead to a visa refusal. There may be no additional questions.
Lack of visa history
A person traveling to the US as a tourist should show a tourist passport, not a document with pages that are glued together and issued a few months ago.
If your travels and visas are recorded in another passport, take it with you. Do not give up old passports on various pretexts. I manage to do this, for example.
Concealing information in the visa application
This particularly concerns information that can be easily verified. For example, if your closest relatives are in the US and you did not indicate this.
I remind you that the mere fact of having relatives in the US is far from always a reason for refusal. Often, on the contrary, having relatives in the US helps to obtain a visa. This is especially relevant for Ukrainians due to the war in Ukraine.
Lack of employment
No job means no money. This is how unemployed people are viewed at the US embassy. And they are right. You should not write “unemployed” in the occupation field; it is a clear failure.
If you don’t have money for the trip, you are a potential illegal tourist. A tourist visa does not grant the right to work.
An exception to the rule is retirees traveling to visit their children. In this case, you can indicate the “retired” status.
Any source of income can be considered a job – playing poker, doing tattoos, renting out an apartment.
Low financial means are a self-sufficient reason for a motivated refusal of a US visa. Did you indicate an income of $350 in the application? Be prepared for a refusal.
There are exceptions to this rule, but low financial means mostly lead to visa denials.
Lack of family
Family is another anchor that keeps you in your home country.
Lack of family is not critical, but in combination with other factors, it can easily lead to a US visa refusal.
Loneliness is an obvious downside, but far from a sentence. There are many cases of obtaining a visa by unmarried individuals.
If you have a boyfriend or girlfriend, it’s worth indicating this in the application instead of the traditional “single,” and not writing “single.”
Too many locations
Often, when preparing a visa application, too many distant locations are indicated. Officers do not always understand such tourist zeal. I do not recommend combining New York, Miami, and Los Angeles in one bottle. To obtain a visa, it is enough to indicate one or two locations.
Too long a travel period
When filling out an application for a tourist or guest visa, indicating a stay period longer than 1 month is a clear failure. Especially if you are employed. A working person cannot afford a vacation longer than 2-3 weeks. Tourism, like a visit, does not imply a long stay.
Someone else is paying for you
You often state in the form that your parents, friends in the US, or someone else is paying for your trip. At the same time, you are a capable person.
This is another common reason for refusal. See above – in the US, they do not like people without money.
Did you indicate that you are traveling alone? This can also be a reason for a US visa refusal.
I mean that you are going to the US, and no one is waiting for you there. In other words, you are a classic solo traveler. This looks unlikely, especially if your passport does not have stamps from all over the world.
A special case is when a woman states that she is going to the US alone. Usually, this is seen as a potential bride, although there can be exceptions. But initially, the visa officer looks at it from this angle.
It’s better to find a travel companion or indicate that friends or relatives are waiting for you in the US. But each case needs to be considered individually. There is no universal recipe.
Relatives in the US
Not all relatives, but those who at some point stayed in the US illegally, can cause problems for their close relatives when obtaining a US visa.
If your close relative (child, parents, fiancé, brother, sister) is in the “applied for political asylum” status, you will most likely be denied a visa.
Relatives with a green card, work or student visa, as well as US citizens, will not cause any questions from the officer.
Previous Visa Denial
If you have previously been denied a visa and your application data has not changed, a repeat denial is likely.
Avoiding a repeat denial is not difficult – simply analyze your application and make changes. Of course, these changes should reflect the actual situation, even if you cannot provide documentation to support them.
Whole Family Is Traveling
This can also be a reason for visa denial, especially if you have many relatives in the United States and no other ties to your home country, such as a job or business.
I’m not talking about the correctness of writing your ex-wife’s name in the application, of course. Approximately one out of twenty people submits an application in one city and schedules an interview in another.
For example, you live in Berlin, fill out the DS-160 form in Berlin, and schedule an interview in Warsaw. Of course, you will not get a visa simply because the interview will not take place.
Uncertain Behavior at the Interview
Officers do not always verify the information you provided in the application. It’s the uncertainty or nervousness during the interview that raises suspicion. And an officer’s suspicion means a US visa denial.
Inconsistent Answers to Questions
The interview is not an exam based on your application. However, if you are going to the US to visit your children but tell the officer that your purpose is to see America when asked, you will be denied right away.
Lack of an Invitation Letter
Are you going to visit relatives, friends, or business partners? Ensure you have an invitation letter from them!
The absence of such a letter can lead to a visa denial. Not always and not everywhere, but in combination with other reasons, you may be denied simply because they don’t believe you. There is a direct recommendation on the US Embassy website about the need for such a letter.
Girlfriend Is Going to the US to See Her Boyfriend
In this case, a visa denial is almost always the outcome. There may be exceptions, but that’s why they are exceptions to the rule.
This is not sexism; it’s just that in this case, the embassy officer reasonably suspects the girl of having immigration intentions. Women are often advised to get a fiancée visa (K1), which is a lengthy process and not always necessary. It’s better to find another reason for the trip.
Purchased Tickets to the US
Did you buy tickets to the US and indicated the exact travel dates and destinations in the application? And when the visa officer asks if the tickets are purchased and the hotel is paid for, you honestly say yes? Don’t do that. This is also a common reason for denial. There is a direct recommendation from the embassy not to buy tickets or pay for the hotel until you have obtained the visa.
Strong Desire to Get to the US
Rushing to schedule an interview, applying in different countries, and the like may indicate a strong desire to go to the US. Such a strong desire can be perceived as an attempt at immigration and, consequently, a visa denial. If you don’t have an important and objective reason for rushing, you might be denied.
Trying to Expedite the Interview Date
Not always the desire to get an earlier interview date leads to a denial. But if you unreasonably try to expedite the interview, bombard the embassy support with emails, be prepared to answer why you are in such a hurry. If there is no valid and objective reason for rushing, you may be denied.
Many people carry dozens of certificates and other documents to prove their ties to their home country.
As for ties to the home country, I’m not sure, but you will prove your incredible desire to get to the US. Almost certainly, instead of the desired approval, you will receive a US visa denial.
Many will be surprised, but at the interview, almost no one is asked for additional documents.
A rare reason for denial, but cases have occurred. Some people behave provocatively at the interview before even starting to answer questions. In this case, instead of questions, there will be a denial. In this case, rudeness is also stupidity.
Even if politeness is not your strongest trait, you can endure a few minutes.