Memphis immigration lawyer Ari Sauer provides news and information on US immigration law.
QUESTION: I am a citizen of the U.K. I was planning to visit the U.S. at the end of the month, to visit some friends. Since I wanted to stay longer than 90 days, I applied for a B-2 visitor’s visa at the U.S. Embassy. I was denied the visa. Can I now go to the U.S. on the Visa Waiver Program?
ANSWER: The Visa Waiver Program allows nationals from certain countries to travel to the U.S. as a visitor for, tourism or business, for up to 90 days without a visa. The VWP is available to citizens of the following 35 countries: Andorra; Australia; Austria; Belgium; Brunei; Czech Republic; Denmark; Estonia; Finland; France; Germany; Hungary; Iceland; Ireland; Italy; Japan; Latvia; Liechtenstein; Lithuania; Luxembourg; Malta; Monaco; the Netherlands; New Zealand; Norway; Portugal; San Marino; Singapore; Slovakia; Slovenia; South Korea; Spain; Sweden; Switzerland; and the U.K.
Foreign nationals who wish to stay in the U.S. longer than 90 days, or who are traveling to the U.S. for purposes other than as a tourist or for a B-1 visa appropriate business purpose, are required to apply for visas even if they are a national of one of these 35 countries. Also, VWP applicants must have an approved machine readable passport.
Foreign Nationals who enter the U.S. on the VWP are not eligible to change status to another nonimmigrant status or apply for Adjustment of Status to that of a Legal Permanent Resident, except in limited circumstances. Foreign nationals who have previously been denied entry into the U.S. or who have previously stayed in the U.S. more than 90 days after being admitted on the VWP are ineligible to apply for admission under the VWP and must travel on a visa.
A Foreign National who has recently been denied a visa, while not permanently barred from entering on the VWP, may still be denied entry to the U.S. on the VWP. Therefore you may not be able to enter the U.S. for your trip without a visa. The most common reason for a visitor visa being denied is under INA Section 214(b) for failure to show that you have strong ties to your home country, so that you are likely to return to your home country upon the expiration of your authorized stay, or for failure to show you have sufficient funds to support yourself in the U.S. so that you will not be required to work while you are in the U.S.
A denial of a visa under Section 214(b) does not make you ineligible to reapply. Therefore I would suggest that you reapply for a B-2 visitor visa and bring as much documentation as you can to show that you have strong ties to the U.K. and enough money in your bank account to support yourself while you are in the U.S. As these visa appointments are usually only a few minutes long, you should have the documentation organized in a manner to allow the consular officer to go through the documentation quickly.