1. What is Section 214(b)?
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 non-immigrant status…”
Our consular officers have a difficult job. They must decide in a very short time if someone is qualified to receive a visa. Most cases are decided after a brief interview and review of whatever evidence of ties an applicant presents. 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 in Turkmenistan he/she has no intention of abandoning. Applicants prove the existence of such residence by demonstrating that they have ties that would compel them to leave the United States at the end of the temporary stay. The law places this burden of proof on the applicant. Applicants must also demonstrate that their purpose of travel is truthfully represented and is appropriate for the classification of visa for which they have applied.
2. How can an applicant prove "strong ties?"
Strong ties differ from country to country, city to city, and individual to individual. Some examples of ties can be a profession, 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.
Imagine your own ties in the country where you live. Would a consular office of another country consider that you have a residence there that you do not intend to abandon? The answer may be “yes” if you have a profession, a family, if you own or rent a house or apartment, and if you have other commitments that would require you to return to your country at the conclusion of a visit abroad. Each person’s situation is different.
U.S. 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 applicant’s specific intentions, family situation, 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.
3. Is a denial under Section 214(b) permanent?
No. The consular officer will review the case if an applicant can show further convincing evidence of ties outside the United States on your next application for a visa. 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.
An applicant refused under Section 214(b) should review carefully their situation and realistically evaluate their ties. They may write down on paper what qualifying ties they think they have which may not have been evaluated at the time of their interview with the consular officer. Also, if they have been refused, they should review what documents were submitted for the consul to consider. Applicants refused visas under section 214(b) have the right to reapply for a visa at any time. 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) Is there any additional information I can present to establish my residence and strong ties to Turkmenistan?
Applicants should also bear in mind that they must fill out a new application (DS-160) and will be charged a nonrefundable application fee each time they apply for a visa, regardless of whether a visa is issued.
4. Why was my interview so short? I think the Consular Officer did not take enough time to consider my case.
Just as every applicant’s case is different, interview times can vary greatly. The interviewing consular officer asks specially formulated questions that are designed to quickly reveal compelling ties to Turkmenistan. Consular officers are trained in U.S. immigration law and have knowledge of local conditions as well as the experience necessary to quickly evaluate a visa application.
5. During the interview, the Consular Officer did not even look at my documents, why is that?
Applying for a nonimmigrant visa is primarily an interview-based process. Documents which demonstrate that applicants are well established in their own country can, in some circumstances, help individuals demonstrate their intent to return to their home country after a short visit to the United States. Depending on the specifics of a case, an officer may or may not need to examine documents to determine eligibility.
6. My application was refused under Section 214(b). Can I appeal the decision or have my case reviewed?
No. A written explanation of the reasons why your application was refused was handed to you on the day of the visa interview. If you were refused under Section 214(b), there is no review process or appeal. You can reapply for a visa at any time. We recommend you wait at least for six months before you reapply, and your situation has changed substantially.
7. Am I ineligible for a visa just because the person I’m visiting in the U.S. stayed illegally?
No. While family patterns of immigration are one of many factors the consular officer considers when adjudicating visas, your case is evaluated based on your personal circumstances and not on those of the person you intend to visit in the United States.
8. I was refused a visa for the Summer Work Travel program. Can I apply again this season?
If you were refused 214b because your level of English did not meet the program requirements, it is very unlikely that your language ability will improve enough for this season. Continue studying, and consider applying again next year.
9. My visa application was refused. Can I get a refund?
No. The MRV fee is not refundable. The fee must be paid in order to cover the expenses of your visa application regardless of whether you are issued a visa or not.