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ResourcesVisa & Immigration LawUS Immigration LawAmerican Tourist Visa Denial: FAQ

American Tourist Visa Denial: FAQ

Transcript of the above video:

As the title of this video suggests, we are discussing the American Tourist Visa, oftentimes referred to as either a B1 or a B2 visa to the United States or a B1/B2 Visa. So what are we talking about here? Basically the standard US Tourist Visa and denial thereof. This is kind of a roundup video. Every once in a while I sort of realize now that I haven't done a video on a topic for a while because I start getting a lot of questions on it and it's a topic that in my mind I have sort of covered but I forget that as time goes on, we pick up new viewers on this channel, we pick up new people watching this channel and the algorithm I guess I don't know, I don’t know all of that tech stuff but at the end of the day, if your video is old, it's not as likely to be found it seems. That may be true to one degree or another but when I start seeing a lot of correspondence with the same question and it is on something that I have talked about in prior videos, I go ahead and ask myself should I make a new one; in this case I think it was warranted to go ahead and do a new one so we are talking about American Tourist Visa denials. 

This is something that unfortunately happens rather frequently at the US Embassy here in Bangkok, Thailand. The denial rate on especially those Thai nationals that have a relationship with an American citizen, is relatively high and a lot of people ask the question "why did I get denied or why is the denial rate relatively high for folks that have a relationship with a US citizen?" Well long story short on that, it is called section 214B of the Immigration and Nationality Act which creates a framework under which the Consular Officer who is adjudicating an application for a US Tourist Visa, that Consular Officer has to make a determination whether or not the Thai national, in this case if it's from the US Embassy in Bangkok for example, we would primarily be talking about Thai nationals although you could put this analysis in the context of other foreign nationals besides Thais. In short, under Section 214 B, the Consular Officer has to be sufficiently convinced that that person has strong ties to their home country or a country outside of the United States and, and this is key, weak ties to the United States. So those that have a relationship with an American might automatically find themselves in a situation where their relationship mitigates the weak ties requirement and thereby results in a denial. 

Now I am sort of explaining with very precise language in an elongated manner something that could happen in relatively short order just walking up to the window at the Consular section during an interview for a US Tourist Visa where they just deny summarily. What I am describing is that denial where they just say: "no, we are not going to issue that Tourist Visa", and they don't say much else other than to give out usually a handout or leaflet that talks about section 21B. The reason for this sort of summary denial if you will is in my opinion stems primarily from the doctrine of what is called Consular Absolutism or Consular Non-reviewability wherein the Consular Officer adjudicating a visa application has basically unfettered discretion, absolute discretion if you will to make factual determinations on the ground and those factual determinations are not subject to appeal. So this is one of the reasons why oftentimes when we get contacted by folks who have applied for a Tourist Visa felt they had documentation in order and were quickly denied. I often times hear "oh, they didn't look at anything we brought." Well they made their determination based on Section 214B, the relationship itself, in and of itself, could have been the determining factor in that Consular Officer's mind to deny the case and they have the discretion to do that pursuant to again what's called the Doctrine of Consular Non-reviewability or Consular Absolutism and that goes back a couple of hundred years, I think the major case on that if I recall is from the early 1800s like 1803 or something like this. So the thing to take away from this video is that it does happen. 

Denial is frankly rather frequent in my opinion in cases involving significant others of US citizens which kind of brings it to the next thing that I often hear people ask me about sort of in the aftermath of this "well maybe I shouldn't have said anything about my relationship with my Thai significant other". Well that is a problem in and of itself because it could be deemed depending on the circumstances to be fraud and misrepresentation which in and of itself creates a legal ground of inadmissibility for any future Visa adjudication. Another thing to think about with US Tourist Visas as we discussed in a prior video, another colleague who is primarily based out of the United States but has been noticing more and more that applications for things like K-1 Fiancé Visas and Marriage Visas to the United States, where there has been a prior Tourist Visa denial, this can have something of an impact on a later case for family-based benefits which it is not necessarily a situation where folks applying for a Tourist Visa are necessarily in a romantic relationship that warrants for example a Fiancé Visa or a Marriage Visa, but then down the road the facts may change and they may actually be in a situation that does warrant that kind of visa. Under those circumstances, as we have explained in other videos, the situation could be that in a subsequent application for a later type of Visa that prior refusal or denial of a US Tourist Visa could be come into play or at least be mentioned shall we say or documentation requested pertaining to that in a later possible, we haven't seen it yet but it wouldn't shock me to see it in coming years, in a later family-based visa application. So the point I am trying to make here is Tourist Visa denial does happen rather frequently in our experience at the US Embassy here in Thailand especially among those who have a significant other that is an American citizen. Not a good idea to in any way to obfuscate the fact that there is a relationship between a foreign national and an American in a US Tourist Visa context as I said because it is possible that you couldn't end up with a fraud and misrepresentation finding as a result of that which could have substantially detrimental and long term effects. Also another thing to think about if you haven't applied for a Tourist Visa yet, because a possible denial might have ramifications for later Visa applications, it is probably not a terrible idea to contact a legal professional and gain some insight and guidance into how best to proceed.