Even if you fulfill all the explicit eligibility criteria for your U.S. visa, and are applying in good faith, you may find yourself in the unfortunate situation where your application was rejected.
Now, before trying again, potentially wasting more of your time and resources, let’s have a quick review of the most common possible reasons for which you were refused a visa.
Sometimes, it comes down to the details, a supporting document you may have forgotten to provide, which would have improved your likelihood of success; sometimes, you may need to reconsider the type of visa you are applying for; and sometimes, just a typo can be enough to spoil your chances.
In short, while the explicit requirements, if not fulfilled, can disqualify you from the get-go, the devil is often in the smaller details; and if you cannot sufficiently convince the officer handling your case that you have the intention and the capability to respect the conditions of the visa you are applying for, you will have to start all over again.
As straightforward as this one might seem, not all cases are clear from the onset - apart from the intended purpose of travel and validity period, each visa has its own set of restrictions and limitations of which you need to remain aware. Make sure you have a good understanding of the conditions attached to the visa type you are planning to apply for - for instance, by engaging with an experienced travel and immigration professional from the start.
Especially if you are after an immigrant-type visa, it will be necessary for you to have a sponsor in the U.S. with enough means to (theoretically) support you financially after you arrive until you manage to settle down and become independent. Your petitioner needs to have enough money to support you for a defined period of time, the amount of which will vary according to the actual location in the U.S. - living standards are not the same in New York as they are in rural Minnesota.
When traveling to the U.S. on a visitor visa, you will be expected to have at least $266 of available funds per day of your stay. Making sure you can demonstrate that you meet these requirements is an absolute must before you decide to apply for a visa.
This is something that happens often with student visa applicants - in order to be able to receive your student visa, you need to include the receipt for the payment of your SEVIS (Student and Exchange Visitor Information System) fees with your application. If this is missing, your visa cannot be approved.
Another common case is with petitioners for immigrant visas: you will be required to include satisfactory proof of your residence in the United States, as well as an Affidavit of Support, aside from the petition form.
If you have any sort of criminal record in your past which comes up during the background check that the USCIS will run as part of their review process, this can be a disqualifying factor - although in some cases it may be possible for a waiver to be applied.
The Consular Officer handling your case is the one making the assessment on whether or not to disregard any criminal offense that appears in your record - so if you are in this situation, don’t despair; it is still possible to try if you can satisfactorily demonstrate that the occurrence in your past has no bearing on your current situation - and a licensed immigration lawyer is a must to have by your side.
As part of the visa application process, the Consular Officer in charge of your case needs to be reassured that you have strong ties to your home country - employment, home rental contracts, or any other factors that will increase the likelihood of you returning home after your stay in the U.S. are necessary for you to obtain your visa. If you are unemployed but meet the other criteria, family ties and real-estate can be potential alternatives to an employment contract.
The bottom line is, whether or not you receive your visa, even if you meet all the “hard” requirements, is up to the Consular Officer. Whether this plays out in your favor or not depends too largely on how informed and well-prepared you are at each step of the process: have an experienced professional by your side from the get-go, and you will already be setting yourself up for success.