I recently closed a question about a US visa refusal as unclear. My rationale was to follow the same protocol as questions on UK visa refusals, i.e. ask for the refusal letter to be uploaded. However, Phantom commented saying:

@JoErNanO Refusal letter is not required for US visas. They provide no additional information unlike UK refusals. The question must be reopened because it is very clear.

What is the best practice in this case? Are US visa refusal letters not required for these questions?

2 Answers 2


Phantom is right. However, US refusals do, I believe, cite a section of the immigration law under which the refusal was made. This generally adds little information, but it might be helpful to know in some cases.

A US refusal letter for 214(b) refusals is available in the question Why was my colleague refused a US B1 visa? on the main site. There, it can be seen that the letter is written in completely general terms. This is in contrast to UK refusal letters, which typically discuss the evidence presented and note any failings in that evidence.

A UK refusal also typically explains why the officer concluded that the applicant did not meet the criteria. For example, the officer may say that the nature of the applicant's relationship with the prospective host is unclear, or the officer may say that the evidence supporting ties to the country of residence is unreliable. A US visa refusal won't (and, being written generally, can't) give any sort of detail.

  • Wouldn't it be useful, though, to see the section(s), as well as any options the applicant may have? Look at this and this. It could balance the content here. Do you think it's worth a canonical, with examples such as these (and redacting identifying info)?
    – Giorgio
    Commented May 23, 2017 at 16:13
  • 5
    @Dorothy of course it would be useful to know what sections were cited, but asking the poster to scan and upload an image seems excessive to me. Why not just ask them to include the information in the text of their question? I'm not generally in favor of canonicals, as I think they have led to an environment in which new users are driven away from the site by overzealous close votes. Perhaps you should post those examples in an answer to this question so others can vote on your suggested approach.
    – phoog
    Commented May 23, 2017 at 16:21
  • Good idea; probably better to give redacted examples of how general the refusals are.
    – Giorgio
    Commented May 23, 2017 at 16:47

A long time ago Mark Mayo told me that an answer that says there is no answer is still a bona fide answer by virtue of stating such.

Despite having no knowledge of matters arising under US law, I have seen US refusals before and after consulting with the applicant I concluded that these are much more whimsical and capricious than their counterparts in Schengen and the UK. The US uses a generic catch-all ground, something like 214 or whatever and this often leaves the applicant angry or perplexed or disappointed.

Answer: We don't need to see the refusal letters because they do not impart the big questions the applicant needs to know; the big questions are 'why?' and 'now what?'

Hypothesis: I am pretty sure that an application that gets approved in the UK/Schengen, in terms of evidential quality and credibility of premise, would be approved by the US. Or conversely, an application that gets refused in the UK/Schengen (for evidential quality or credibility of premise) would be similarly be refused in the US. The overlap may not be 100%, but maybe 80 - 85%.

Hypothesis: There's certain things a visa officer wants to see, and they cannot be so radically different between the three regimes.

Corollary Answer: so yes, a great canonical can be drafted that explains that...

we don't know why and we'll never know why without a detailed examination of your personal circumstances along with your premise and evidence. BUT... there are some centralities in these types of refusals, and here's a list of considerations... (list items go here, like funds parking, apparent lifestyle, you blew it at the interview stage, etc etc).

As for what to do about it, the canonical can explain...

You (can/cannot) appeal, and the internet fora cannot examine your personal circumstances at the level you need, BUT if you need a really detailed answer, you can instruct a US lawyer who has been called to the bar and operates a practice area in US visitor visas, here's the relevant links (list of links to US law and US legal resources with lots of links to existing q/a's in TSE so that people will spend a while on TSE browsing the archives)...

Following best practices and community etiquette, the q/a can be posted here to let everyone give some helpful ideas. Happy to see 'phoog' head up the drafting stage.

  • 1
    Note that "called to the bar" is very, very British parlance. Maybe you mean "passed the bar exam"? But that's kind of implied by the use of the term "lawyer"...
    – Martha
    Commented May 27, 2017 at 0:09

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