Mon | Sep 24, 2018

Why can't I get a visa?

Published:Tuesday | February 24, 2015 | 12:00 AM

Dear Mrs Walker-Huntington,

I have applied three times to the United States (US) embassy, and my application for a visa was denied each time. My husband has a visa but has only travelled once because it was my aunt and uncle whom he visited and he's not very comfortable alone with them. He wants me to be able to travel back and forth with him. I have a stepdaughter and an adopted daughter.

My husband and I have a business and I solely operate a cosmetic business. We own our own house and pay mortgage through the National Housing Trust. What else is it that the interviewers could possibly be looking for to show that I have more than enough ties to Jamaica and that I will return home after all visits to the States? My husband and I were even planning a cruise for our wedding anniversary in June of this year, but that will not be possible because I need a visa to get to Miami.

Is there a way I can appeal to get more details as to why my application for a visa is being rejected? Do you think I can apply again before June and stand a chance? My most recent visit to the embassy was February 11, 2015. Can I have my case reviewed? What can I do?

- AD

Dear AD,

Unfortunately, no one is entitled to a non-immigrant visa - it is a privilege, not an entitlement. This means that although you may meet all the criteria of someone who has significant ties to Jamaica, which you have no intention of abandoning, you can still be denied a visa. The same is true for husband and wife. We see couples like you and your husband who pretty much have the identical profiles and one gets a visa and the other is denied.

The presumption is always that an applicant for a non-immigrant visa intends to migrate and the US embassy places the burden on the applicant to prove ties to home to which they will return after a temporary trip to the States. The process, however, is further complicated in that it is highly subjective. The consular officer is supposedly trained to make a decision as to an applicant's eligibility for a non-immigrant visa and can deny the application even if there is a mountain of evidence to show that the applicant will not abandon his home and opt to remain illegally in the US. The further frustration is that you may take documentary evidence to prove your ties and the consular officer refuses to review and verify your proffers.

There is no appeal regarding the denial of a non-immigrant visa. Some people have tried numerous times before being finally approved. The standard denial sheet given to an unsuccessful visa applicant tells you to reapply when your situation has changed. In your case, you appear to have all that the embassy would need to show you have enough ties to Jamaica, but it is still not deemed enough. The unfortunate side, however, is that many people even with your ties, still go to America on a non-immigrant visa and do not return to Jamaica.

Only you can decide if you want to keep applying, but if you do, you may one day be successful.

- Dahlia A. Walker-Huntington is a Jamaican-American attorney who practises immigration law in the United States and family, criminal and personal injury law in Florida. She is a mediator, arbitrator and special magistrate in Broward County, Florida; and an adjunct professor at Miami Dade College's School of Justice.