Guide to Section 214(b)

Updated on April 10, 2024

At a Glance

  • Section 214(b) of the Immigration and Nationality Act establishes a presumption of immigrant intent for nonimmigrant visa applicants.
  • It means that individuals applying for a temporary visa are assumed to have the intention of becoming immigrants, making it challenging to obtain the visa.
  • To overcome this presumption, applicants must provide evidence of strong ties to their home country, including financial stability, plans to return after the authorized stay, and a legitimate purpose for traveling.
  • A 214(b) visa denial can be overcome by reapplying with stronger evidence, addressing any overlooked aspects, and preparing for the consular interview. It is important for students to demonstrate their intention to return to their home country after completing their studies to avoid Section 214(b) refusals.

Back in 2018, there were 79.62 million people traveling to the U.S. The number might have been bigger but given that many visa applicants were denied. If you are one of the people who received a refusal from the U.S. consular officer after applying for a visa due to not qualifying under 214(b) section, then you may want to know how to solve this. In this post, you are going to learn what Section 214(b) is and how you can avoid it, or what to do after you’ve been denied.

What Is Section 214(b) of the Immigration and Nationality Act?

Section 214 of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) is the one responsible for accepting nonimmigrants to the States. In Section 214, there is a subsection that specifies:

“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 a visa, and the immigration officers, at the time of application for admission, that he is entitled to a nonimmigrant status…”

So, simply put, this means that people who apply for a nonimmigrant visa are usually considered to be people who intend to become immigrants. Due to the “presumption of immigrant intent”, some people will not be admitted as nonimmigrants. The consular officer may not trust you, and may possibly believe that you actually have the intention of permanently settling in the U.S.

Usually, consular officers have very little time to decide if someone is suitable to receive a temporary visa, so they take a glance at your information and decide. This is why there’s usually a need for additional documents to prove your intent of temporary stay in the U.S.

What Is a 214(b) Visa Denial?

A 214(b) visa denial means that your visa application has been refused because you do not qualify under the 214(b) section. The consular officer will ask you about your plans during and after the visa, and they may make a decision based on your answer. If you tell them that you may apply for a permanent visa after your program is over or that your employer may consider the employment possibility after this program is over, you might be refused.

You’ll be met with the “Your visa application is refused. You are not qualified under Section 214(b) of the Immigration and Nationality Act.” text, and you will be unable to go to the U.S. as a nonimmigrant.

In order to not get rejected, you need to provide some evidence. You have to show the Consular Officer that you have a good financial situation so that you can afford the trip without the need of unauthorized U.S. employment. You should also show that you want to go back to your home country once the period of stay is over. In addition, you also need to bring evidence that you travel for a legitimate purpose, which fits with the type of visa you are applying for. It could be a J1 Visa, but it may also be an O1 one.

Misconceptions about Section 214(b)

There are some misconceptions going around about Section 214(b). For instance, some people think that they can qualify for the visa easily if they bring more documents. Well, the documentation aspect is relevant indeed, but it isn’t the decisive factor when it comes to applying for a visa.

To put it simply, the interview you offer when applying for the visa is of great relevance as well. So, although you should make sure you have the right documents, you should focus on the interview too.

Is a Denial Under Section 214(b) Permanent?

Luckily for you, it isn’t. Even if your initial visa application is refused, you can try applying again, but this time, you have to bring enough evidence to convince the consular officer. As long as you make sure to have these, the officer will reconsider a case.

However, you need to make sure that you contact the consulate or embassy and ask about the reapplication procedures that you should go through. You need to do this as there are still some applicants that will not qualify for the visa no matter how many times they try. It is possible if the applicant doesn’t have the best professional, financial or personal situation.

If you are declared unable to qualify for the visa by the officer, then you shouldn’t reapply unless you make some changes. These changes can be both in your behavior or the application. Make sure you don’t apply the same information as you did the first time, or you risk being refused again.

What to Do If Your Visa Is Denied under Section 214(b)

If your visa is denied under section 214(b), then you need to look for any potential evidence that you only intend to stay in the U.S. for a temporary period. Having said that, before you think of reapplying, you need to think about several things. Ask yourself whether there is something that the consular officer may have overlooked, or if you explained your situation properly and accurately. Also, think if there is some extra information that you can bring in order to prove your intention to leave the U.S. after the period is over.

If you can, you should also write down some qualities that you possess that might help you get that visa.

Interview After Reapplication

When reapplying for a visa, you will have to be interviewed by a consular officer again. To make sure you will pass this with the acceptance of the officer, you need to prepare. It’s important to be able to verbally answer the question you’ll be asked. The clearer and more concise you are, the better because you increase your chances of acceptance.

Also, go over some of the answers you have, and figure out whether it would be fitting to give that answer or not. If you give a bad answer, it may have a negative influence on the outcome. For instance, don’t tell them that you intend to switch from an O1 visa to a green card in the future.

Section 214(b) and Student Refusals

Some students may apply for a visa too, but they may also stumble upon Section 214(b) refusal. If this happens, then you need to make sure you bring evidence to the officer that you intend to leave the U.S. once your studies are over. One of the documents that help you when applying for a student visa is the I-20. Nevertheless, it doesn’t guarantee your eligibility.

Whatever you do, you need to have the intention of using your studies in your home country after you’re done with college and bring some proof of it. Otherwise, the officer may suspect you of wanting to advance in your life by staying in the U.S. after your studies, and thus, you’ll be rejected.

Final Thoughts

75% of the 9 million visas issued in 2019 were for temporary tourism or short-term business visitors, but there were some that encountered the 214(b) issue. If you’re one of the people who had to deal with this rejection, then you must know what to do next. You should collect all of the necessary documentation that can be used to prove your real intent for a temporary stay in the U.S. Also, you need to prepare for the new interview. For any other question, check out Stilt, and you may find the right answer for you.

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Frank Gogol

I’m a firm believer that information is the key to financial freedom. On the Stilt Blog, I write about the complex topics — like finance, immigration, and technology — to help immigrants make the most of their lives in the U.S. Our content and brand have been featured in Forbes, TechCrunch, VentureBeat, and more.

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