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Making Your Case: U.S. Visitor's Visa
To avoid the frustration of being repeatedly denied a visitor’s visa to the United States, you need to be honest and prepare meticulous documentation to convince the U.S. consulate that you fully intend to return to your home country. Attorney Mahesh Bajoria walks you through the steps.
We hear it all the time: “The U.S. Consulate denied my visitor visa to the U.S. The officer did not ask me any questions. This is the second or third time that my visitor visa has been denied. I gave the affidavit of support from my friend or brother.”
One wonders why the U.S. Consulate behaves like this.
Persons planning to visit the United States temporarily for a short period of time, such as for visiting friends or relatives, for medical treatment, or for pleasure, must obtain a visitor’s visa or a B-2 visa from the U.S. Consulate of their country.
This visitor visa or B-2 visa is a non-immigrant visa which allows a short term visit to the U.S for a specific purpose. This visa usually allows stay in the U.S. for a fixed period of time and is valid for up to a period of 10 years. The visitor then has to be admitted into the United States upon his or her arrival in the U.S. This entry is usually for a fixed period of time for up to six months. That means that the visitor can stay up to that period of time in the United States even though his or her visa issued by the U.S. Consulate may be valid for a period of 10 years.
Applicants for a visitor visa to the U.S must satisfy the U.S. Consulate that applicant qualifies under the Immigration and Nationality Act. Now the question is: How does the applicant for a visitor visa satisfy the U.S. Consulate that he or she qualifies under the act and what are the requirements in this regard? The presumption in the case of an applicant for a visitor visa is that he or she is an intending immigrant even though he or she is applying for a visitor visa. This presumption has to be overcome and the U.S. Consulate has to be satisfied that the applicant is not an intending immigrant, that he or she will not abandon their residence in India, and that he or she will return to his or her home country after a short visit to the U.S.
Most of the applicants are unable to overcome this presumption before the U.S. Consulate. Unless this presumption is overcome, intending applicants for a visitor’s visa do not qualify for the issuance of the visitor’s visa. Applicants must demonstrate that they have a residence in India or their home country which they do not intent to abandon, they intend to enter the U.S temporarily for a short period of time and for a specific non-immigrant purpose, like meeting friends and relatives, tourism, or medical treatment, and will return to their home country after the short temporary visit to the U.S. Now the question is how one can overcome this presumption? It is noteworthy that the applicant does not have much time to plead his or her case before the U.S. Consulate because of the large volume of cases the U.S. Consulate processes on any given day.
The presumption can be overcome if the applicant substantiates his or her claim by producing properly prepared documentation with a list of documents and an explanation by way of a declaration or a statement. The declaration shall state the family, economic, emotional and social ties of the applicant that will bring the applicant back to his or her home country after a short temporary visit to the U.S. The declaration should be supported by documentary evidence for each claim being made in the declaration to satisfy the officer that what the applicant states in the declaration is in fact true.
Then the second question is how one will support himself or herself while in the U.S. during the trip. For that purpose, the intending applicant has to show the availability of sufficient funds that will support the applicant during his or her trip to the U.S. This can be justified by showing the availability of funds that the applicant is carrying and or by means of an affidavit of support from a friend or relative in the U.S who undertakes to support the applicant during applicant’s visit to the U.S.
The battle of getting a visitor visa can be won and the frustration of getting rejected time and again can be overcome if the application is prepared carefully and the required documents to overcome the presumption are attached to the application and presented to the U.S. Consulate meticulously.
One note of caution: Do not ever lie to the U.S. Consulate. This would reduce applicant’s chances of getting the visa presently and in future too.
Here is a sample declaration from an applicant who was successful in overcoming the presumption and was able to get a visitor’s visa to the U.S. The declaration may be used by the applicant and tailored as per one’s own circumstances as a guideline to put forth one’s case before the U.S. Consulate.
The US Consulate General
Non-Immigration Visa Unit,
Sub: NON-IMMIGRANT VISA INTERVIEW SCHEDULED ON____FOR ____
Dear Consular Officer:
I, Ramlal Sen and my wife, Sita Sen, are scheduled for an interview with your office on ________. We would like to explain the social and financial ties that we have here in India. I, Ramlal l Sen, solemnly affirm and state that the following is true to the best of my knowledge and belief:
I am applying to visit the United States of America with my wife, Sita Sen. The purpose of the visit is to go around the beautiful country and meet our daughter and son-in-law.
I am a citizen of India. I live in my own 1,620 square feet custom built house at _____________________, Kolkata, India, which is worth approximately around Rs. 1.47 million. I live in the said house with my wife, Sita. Property documents to support the ownership of the house and the valuation of the house are attached herewith as Exhibit 1. We plan to construct the second story on our existing house after the rainy season is over.
I have money invested in my bank accounts, mutual funds, shares and jewelry, etc. Investment in fixed deposit account, mutual Funds, Shares, etc. amount to approximately Rs.500,000. Copies of such investment in support of the proof of the same are attached herewith as Exhibit 2.
My wife also has investments and value of her investments is around Rs. ________. Copies in support of such documents are attached herewith as Exhibit 2.
I have life insurance policies of ________ plan for Rs.__________, and policy for a face amount of Rs._____ for my wife, Sita. Copies of such policies are attached herewith as Exhibit 3.
I am eligible to get pension from my work from of Rs.110,000. Copies of documents showing my eligibility and employment papers are attached herewith as Exhibit 4.
We are income tax payers and have Permanent Account numbers. Copies of such Permanent Account numbers are attached herewith as Exhibit 5.
We have visited other countries at different times, such as Bangladesh, etc. and have always returned back to our country within the time allowed. Copies of our passport to support the above travels outside India are attached as Exhibit 6.
I and my wife help the local club and temple of the community. We are also actively associated with the following non-profit organizations and contribute regularly to:
1. Amra Kajan
I am the secretary of the local club, Amra Kajan, for the forthcoming Durga Puja Festival which is scheduled to be held from Oct. __ to Oct. __, 20__.
Our whole family is very much spiritually inclined. We visit the temples and local religious organizations and events regularly. We go on pilgrimage, and visit ashrams and other temples regularly.
Documents in support of the contributions and involvement with these associations are attached herewith as Exhibit 7.
I am the oldest family member in my family. I have 2 brothers and 3 sisters who all are younger than me. One of my sisters, _________Biswas, is a widow. I have to take care of her and visit here frequently. She has only one son, Suman Biswas, who is unmarried. Being the oldest in the family, I have the responsibility to find a suitable match for my nephew, Suman Biswas, and get him married. Matrimonial alliances are coming for him. We plan to get my nephew, Suman Biswas, married in the coming winter around November 20__. Newspaper cuttings and other documents in support of the matrimonial alliances are attached herewith as Exhibit 8.
Being the oldest in the family, I also look after and supervise all the rituals, births and deaths and other functions in the family as we believe in joint Hindu Family system. I have to take care of my nephew Suman Biswas’s photography business whenever he needs me or has to go out of town for business or for other work. Copy of documents for his photography business is also attached as Exhibit 9.
My wife Sita is also the oldest family member in her family. She has 2 younger sisters and 1 brother. All live in India. Being the oldest in the family, she also has to look after and supervise all the rituals, births and deaths and other functions in the family as we believe in joint Hindu Family system.
My _______ is widowed, pretty old and is ill. She is bedridden due to old age and not keeping good health. We visit her very frequently and take care of her. We feel this is as our moral responsibility to take care of her. Copies of her medical records are attached herewith as Exhibit 10.
I, therefore, request you to kindly grant us permission to go and see our family and share the happiness of meeting our daughter, son-in-law, our grandson,________, our granddaughter,_______, and other friends. After meeting with my family and friends, we intend to go see the beautiful country of United States and return back to our country and to our whole family.
We have strong economic, financial and social ties here in our native place. We want to go and visit the U.S.A. for a short time and we will return to our country to be with our family, our religious and social activities, and our extended family members, my sister whom we are looking after. We have no intention of staying in the U.S.A.
We thank you very much for your kind consideration.
Sworn affidavits from my wife, Sita, outlining the above facts are also attached herewith as Exhibit 11.
(The above is author’s own views and the declaration is a sample. Consult your legal advisor before relying on the author’s views and the sample.)
Mahesh Bajoria is an attorney practicing law in Fremont, Calif. He can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.