Quite often I use advices people give all over the Internet on various problems I face. Without help of those strangers I wouldn’t imagine myself today, I’d probably spent at least twice as much time to achieve what I planned in my life. In order to express my gratitude, I’ve decided to contribute my experience that eventually might help someone like me to achieve what he/she wants.
This story is need some preliminary introduction, because Visa issuing decisions is always based on your personal circumstances that may differ from one case to another, but obviously they all have much in common. So let me start by telling my story that contains important facts that ultimately affect a decision a Visa officer makes.
Overall, I’ve applied for US visa 4 times (2 times for J1 and 2 times for B1/B2), my first experience was when I was studying second year at a university in Ukraine, and I opened J1 Visa for so-called “Work & Travel program”, the next year, however, I was refused in getting the same J1 Visa and regret not to reapply after, that was my first visa refuse experience and, unfortunately, I gave up at that point for a short while. Third time I applied a month ago while being in the middle of studying program in Canada and had been refused with nonsense explanation, it sounds like “You haven’t been in Canada long enough, come back later when you’ll have a permanent status here or try to apply from your home country”. I’ve heard from different people about how they received their visas in the similar situation and I knew that this explanation was absolutely subjective and meant nothing concrete.
I came to Canada in August 2014 as a student enrolled in Post Graduate program in Conestoga College. Originally I am from Ukraine and arrived here after graduation from university with Bachelor degree in Management. In Canada, I am studying full-time on a year-long Software Engineering program. That is a little controversy and required long explanation therefore I’ll cover this in another post. So lets just leave this for now. My program lasts till August, including mandatory co-op term in the following Summer that I have to complete to be able to graduate from the program. Well, this is pretty much all about important facts. Now I’ll describe how visa officers considering your application and what facts counts the most.
First and foremost, visa officers want to make sure you have strong ties with your home country, either where you were born and have been constantly lived in or the country where you residing currently for a long period of time. In my case, I demonstrated my ties to Canada, because I’d been living here for the past 6 months and had plans to stay at least until I complete my studying. I’m not sure if presenting your ties with home country while you’re residing in another, where you’re applying for a Visa, will lead to a positive decision. In this case, your application most likely will be declined and you’ll be asked to apply from your home country that you have strong ties to, instead.
So what those ties can be? It can be a permanent employment, full-time studying in designated education institution, successful small business and so on. Depend on what occupation you have selected when filled out DS-160 form, you’ll be asked to provide corresponding documents to support your ties in this field. For example, if you specified that you are working for some company then you have to present a letter of employment and recent pay stubs, if you’re a student then you’ll be asked to provide a list with grades from your school, or in case you’re a self-employed then you have to describe what you do for living and demonstrate a proof of your income, through a bank statement for the past 6 months period.
Additional documents could be real estate ownership certificates, long-term lease agreements, a large deposit in a bank and almost anything else you may gather. However, from my experience they don’t even look or ask documents that are not related to you duties/occupation. They sort of act like – if you’re a student then proof that you’re in a good standing at school and have plans to continue studying further, if you’re a some kind of professional then show that you have a good job that you have been working there for a long term and plan to continue working…
Apart from claiming your ties, you almost 100 per cent will be answering regular questions about purpose of your trip to USA, what the timeframe of it, your destination, what you’re planing to do during your temporary visit, so be well prepared for this questions. I composed certain travel plans, made a reservation of a hotel (however they don’t ask it at all, I’ve heard about more then 5 cases and none were asked to show hotel reservation information, so you probably should have it, anyway, but don’t really rely on it as a valuable document).
Furthermore, a visa officer asks whether you have been in USA before and then will be meticulously reviewing all your history to make sure you haven’t violated any law during those stays. You may be faced some tricky questions like: “what had happened with your visa?“, “why you had been refused to get a visa?” (even if it was many years ago). If some question surprise you, just tell an officer facts that you know or say that you don’t know about it, if you really don’t. I had a second J1 Visa refused, so I was asked what was the reason, I told that officially refuse was under section 214(b), because I didn’t show my ties to my home country, and that it was really strange, because my brother with totally identical situation and documents received the visa and was in USA that year. Being honest is really what officers expect from you in order to issue you a Visa. For sure, it’s hard to look confidently when you’re not familiar with visa interview process or you had a refuse before. What I might suggest is to pretend like if getting the Visa wasn’t really important for you and you would be good with either decision.
Visa officer’s decision is really unpredictable and the only way to get the Visa is to understand the process, be well prepared and intent to defend yourself until your application eventually will be approved, event if you have got a refuse and feel like it’s unfair and unreasonable decision, reapply and start all over again. Visa officers are often subjective, and that make sense, actually, because they driven by their inner sense, if there is something they don’t like about your case they tend to give a refuse, instantly. So make sure you did everything right, and reapply if, despite the fact, you haven’t been given a visa.
To get back to my story, a week after my recent refuse I decided to apply again (fourth time overall), I brought a little more evidence of my ties, and intended to defend my application. I wasn’t asked about my latest refuse, however, I had to explain my refuse when I applied second time for J1. After short regular questions, my Visa officer said those nice words that I have been expecting to hear being though all this: “You Visa has been approved!”. On the third business day I received my passport with 10 years B1/B2 multiple-entry Visa to the United States in it.
Undoubtedly, I believe that the fact of applying for a Visa from Canada plays its role, at least because you can easily motivate your desire to travel to the US, for example, it can be weekends trip or shopping. Unlikely, those reasons would be sound as strong, if you were intending to flight over 10,000 kilometres. But anyway, there are still many valuable purposes to do so, such as visiting a professional conference related to work, long-term studying, visiting relatives and so forth. Just keep in mind, that you have to demonstrate what ties you up to your home country. There are tons of examples, where this is the only important questions you’ll be asked on your Visa interview and if you’re prepared to demonstrate that it will drastically increase chances to get a positive decision on your application.