What’s more saddening than having your American visa application turned down? I mean, not many disappointments in the world can compare to that.
If you’ve experienced this before, we’re deeply sorry.
We hope you find this guide helpful for those just about to apply. It contains everything you need to know about why the US mostly denies visas - be it work visas, ESTA USA authorizations, study permits, or family-based immigration. Oh, and just so you know, the number of failed US visa applications currently stands at a yearly mark of 4 million.
Top 9 reasons your US visa may be denied
1. Making silly mistakes
As much as people love to blame the United States' immigration system for visa denials, we have to state that sometimes the fault is on the applicant's part.
We often see applicants who can't even answer questions correctly during a visa interview. I mean, how do you convince an embassy official of your intentions when you can’t even put them in words?
Some can't even fill forms properly. We’ve heard cases of people who make mistakes while filling in details like date of birth, occupation, residential address, etc. While you might get away with such errors in your school exam, you definitely won’t if you’re applying for a US immigration scheme like the ESTA USA.
You must be ready at all times during a visa application process.
2. Not doing adequate research
What are the documents you need to provide? Are they all clearly stated on the visa application form, or you're expected to find out yourself?
Sometimes, depending on the type of visa you're applying for, you may be requested to attach 'the necessary' documents along with your application. This could refer to financial bank statements, employment history, monthly paychecks, daily bills and expenditures, assets, amongst other things.
Without proper research, you may not know what to include in the application. And as such, you may provide insufficient information.
This is why it’s important to do your due diligence when applying for a US visa – be it the ESTA USA visa, F1 visa, or others.
3. Not applying for the right visa
Rest assured, the embassy will deny your visa if your status doesn't align with the requirements of the visa type you’re applying for.
The United States immigration system has different visa categories for different purposes. For example, there’s the ESTA USA authorization for people looking to visit for tourism or business purposes. This type of Visa Waiver Program (the ESTA USA) qualifies applicants to visit the US anytime they want for a period of 90 days per visit within a two-year validity period. Sounds exciting, right? Yes, it does. But unfortunately, it’s not for every country.
Only the citizens of a select few countries can submit an ESTA application. For example, if you’re from Nigeria, you can’t come into the US with an ESTA application because your country is not on the Visa Waiver Program list.
Imagine someone from Nigeria finds out about ESTA and then proceeds to submit an ESTA application. Such a person's ESTA application will definitely be denied.
Besides ESTA, it’s possible to make the same mistake with other visa types. Therefore, whether you want to apply for ESTA or other visa types, you should always double-check that you’re qualified to apply.
4. Falsified information
Don't think that you can game the US immigration system for a second. Because, believe it or not, those guys are a thousand miles ahead of you. They're experienced enough to smell foul play from a mile away. Over time, applicants have tried various dubious means to beat them and get into the US. And this has only made them learn the tricks themselves.
If you know you don’t meet all the necessary requirements, don’t even bother applying. Because chances are they will deny your application. Worst case scenario, you might even be barred from future applications or from entering the US.
I’m sure you don’t want that.
5. Incorrect information
Another one that's almost similar to falsified details is data inaccuracy. Often, this happens as a result of a mix-up on the applicant's part.
A common example of this is the issue of wrong date of birth. For instance, an applicant might fill a date on the visa application form that differs from the date on their passport. When this happens, the applicant may be denied outright. Or they may be asked to correct the mix-up, in which case, their visa processing will be delayed.
6. Incomplete document submission
As we’ve said, different visa types have different requirements. Unfortunately, many applicants still treat all visas like they’re the same.
Please stop that. Doing that is like shooting yourself in the legs.
You should know that documents needed for a type of visa may not be valid for another.
The best way to know what you need for the visa you’re applying for is to check official sources like the Bureau of Consular Affairs website. For additional information, you can also check some credible blogs online.
It is important to do these checks to avoid submitting incomplete documents. For example, an international college student applying for a student visa may think they only need to submit their sponsors' bank statements. Unbeknown to them that the US embassy also expects to find their personal bank statement in the application.
You will never know these things unless you do your due diligence.
7. Overly confident during a visa interview
I know you want to come off as 'knowing what you're saying.' You should know there's a thin line between confidence and arrogance. The former might be good for your visa application. But the latter is definitely not.
When an officer asks you a question, answer humbly. Avoid sounding like you've already gotten the visa.
Let it be obvious in your attitude that you’re not desperate about going to the US. And that if you're granted a visa, you have the intention to return.
8. Saying too much
There’s a saying my granny used to say back in the day. She would say, "Don't put questions that aren't in people's minds in their minds.”
It simply means: don't make someone start thinking about things they probably weren't thinking about before. By giving too much information at your visa interview, you might be doing this.
Keep your answers short.
Imagine the embassy official asking you what you do for a living. Then you start talking about your major hustles and side hustles. From your response, he might be sparked to look back into your tax history to see whether you added your side hustles in your tax payments.
9. Accent barrier
Often, applicants may not understand what an interviewer is saying because of the accent barrier. But because they're too timid to ask the interviewer to repeat themselves, they pretend like all is fine. And in the end, they give the wrong answers.
It’s not a crime to ask your interviewer to repeat themselves. If you can’t hear what they’re saying – maybe because of the accent – you can ask for an interpreter or tell the interviewer to slow down.
You really don’t have to ride the storm and pretend like everything is fine. Remember, not understanding what your interviewer is saying is already a bedrock for failure.