Travel Visa Denial

In 2015, the U.S. issued almost 11 million non-immigrant American travel visas. More than 3 million American travel visa applicants received an initial visa denial in 2015. Rates of visa denial by nationality ranged from a low of 0% for Andorra, Liechtenstein and San Marino to a high of 96% for the Republic of Palau.

American travel visa denials are generally based on one of two broad grounds. First, the applicant may be deemed inadmissible to the U.S. for reasons enumerated in Section 212(a) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (“INA”). These grounds include:

1) Health Issues that may pose a threat to the health and safety of U.S. citizens if the applicant is admitted;

2) The existence of a record of criminal convictions or the applicant’s admission to having committed certain classes of crimes in any country;

3) Certain grounds related to national security such as involvement with terrorist organizations or activities;

4) Previous unlawful presence in the U.S., misrepresentation, fraud or other immigration related misconduct;

5) Various other grounds included in the code section.

Applicants who are inadmissible under Section 212(a) are ineligible to receive visas and ineligible to be admitted to the United States. However, the INA also authorizes waivers for health, criminal, misrepresentation and various other grounds of inadmissibility. An applicant whose record renders them inadmissible must obtain a waiver before an American travel visa can be issued.

Ineligibility differs from inadmissibility in that an applicant who is merely ineligible need not obtain a waiver prior to being issued an American travel visa. The applicant may reapply at any time after issuance of a travel visa denial. The applicant must show a change of circumstances that will allow the Consular Officer to find that the grounds for ineligibility have been overcome.

Common grounds for a finding of ineligibility that result in American travel visa denial or delay include:

1) The applicant has failed to overcome the presumption of immigrant intent contained in Section 214(b) of the INA;

2) The applicant has not properly completed the application, the Consular Officer requires additional documentation or the application has been chosen for additional administrative review under Section 221(g) of the INA; and

3) The applicant has failed to demonstrate that she will not become a public charge, dependent on the U.S. government for support, if an American travel visa is issued as required by Section 212(a)(4) of the (INA).

Consular Officers are given almost complete discretion in deciding whether or not to issue an American travel visa. A Consular Officer must either approve or deny a properly completed application. The Consular Officer’s decision must only be based on a specific law or regulation.  Consular Officers are required, with certain narrow exceptions, to provide both a verbal and written explanation whenever a travel visa denial is issued. This notice will include the factual and legal grounds for the travel visa denial. The notice is usually quite general. Decisions are typically made immediately and denial notices provided at the conclusion of the interview.

If you receive an American travel visa denial due to grounds of inadmissibility, you must obtain a waiver of inadmissibility before you will be issued an American travel visa. If the denial was due to an ineligibility only, the only way to have the previous decision reviewed is to file a new application and demonstrate a change of circumstances that will overcome the ineligibility. If you act quickly after a denial is issued, it is also possible to request that the assigned Consular Officer reconsider the application. You may also request a review by the consular section supervisor. If a cognizable mistake of law has been made, you may seek an advisory opinion from the Advisory Opinions Division (AOD) of the State Department’s Visa Office. Judicial review is generally unavailable outside of very limited circumstances.

The best way to avoid travel visa denial is to retain counsel prior to submission of the first application. We provide Flat Fee American Travel Visa Preparation and Review Service Packages that are designed to prevent travel visa denials before they happen. Proceeding with professional guidance from the beginning will help ensure that you avoid possible pitfalls in the application process. We identify potential issues, develop a plan of action for dealing with those issues and help our clients avoid denials and the unnecessary time, expense and stress that comes with them.


If your American travel visa denial is due to a grounds of inadmissibility, we can apply for a waiver on your behalf.  Each client comes to us with different problems and factual scenarios. We thoroughly review each case and develop a unique case strategy. We handle all filings, communications and present legal arguments  to the embassy or consulate and other agencies as necessary. The time and expense involved in the waiver application process varies greatly between cases due to both the uniqueness of each case and the location in which the waiver will be adjudicated.


If your American travel visa denial is due to mere ineligibility, we will help you prepare a new application package. As part of our service, we may contact the consulate or embassy to clarify the basis for the previous denial. We will address the grounds for ineligibility in your new application and will communicate with consular staff as necessary. We will also help you prepare for the interview so that you are less likely to be denied due to poor interview performance.

The process of adjudication for both waivers of inadmissibility and re-applications after a previous finding of ineligibility can be expensive, time consuming and stressful. It is for this reason that The Immigration Law Office of L. Ford Banister, II makes available Flat Fee American Travel Visa Preparation and Review Service Packages for applicants with no record of previous travel visa denial.

If you have already applied and a travel visa denial has been issued, contact the The Immigration Law Office of L. Ford Banister, II today for a free consultation to discuss your American travel visa options.