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Opinions of Saturday, 12 September 2015

Columnist: Acheampong, Emmanuel Opoku

The U.S. Visitor Visa (B-Visa); What Does It Really Entail?

There seem to be no limit to stories by persons who have been denied U.S. visas. Under U.S. law, a refusal simply means that owing to some reason, the consular officer considered the applicant ineligible under U.S. law for the grant of a visa. Persons are often puzzled by the officer’s decision to deny them a visa, having answered all questions posed to them at the interview. Others are unable to understand why the officer flippantly denied them without looking at their documents. In fact, the disappointment and emotion that follow a U.S. visa refusal are boundless.

In this, and subsequent articles, we will examine the requirements for different visa categories under U.S., UK, and Schengen law. We will further examine factors that contribute to visa refusals under respective visa categories. We will finally consider practical ways to avoid and overcome a visa refusal, and determine whether remedies, if any, may be available after a refusal.

What is a U.S. non-immigrant visa?
A non-immigrant visa is simply a type of visa issued to persons with a permanent residence outside the U.S. but who wish to be in the U.S. on a temporary basis. Although there are about 35 non-immigrant visas we will focus on the B visa.

B Visa (Visitor visa)
Also called the "visitor" visa, the B visa is for persons desiring to enter the U.S. temporarily for business (category B-1), and for pleasure, or medical treatment (category B-2). A person desiring to consult with business associates, or travel for a scientific, educational, professional or business convention/conference, settle an estate, or negotiate a contract may apply for a B visa. The B visa is also for persons travelling for purposes which are recreational in nature, including tourism, amusement, visits with friends and/or relatives, rest, medical treatment, and activities of a fraternal, social, or service nature.

Of all U.S. visas, the B visa is the most popular. In the 2014 fiscal year, a worldwide total of 7,944,862 persons applied for the B visa. Of this total, 6,276,977 were issued visas; and 1,667,865 were refused. These figures refute the standing perception about U.S. visa refusal rates. As the figures show, the total of B visas issued in 2014 was almost four times the number refused. In fact, this trend appears to be no different from preceding years.

Refusal rate in Ghana
Ghana ranks as one of the countries with the highest B visa refusal rate in the world. In the 2014 fiscal year, Ghana had the Highest Adjusted Refusal Rate in Africa with 59.8%; and was eighth in the world among a worldwide total of 200 countries. To put things into perspective, Ghana was topped by countries like Syria, a war torn zone with 60%; Cuba, which until recently had a long standing diplomatic row with the U.S. with 66.2%; Laos with 61.1%, Republic of Palau with 84.2%. Interestingly, Nigeria had a percentage rate of 33.2%, and South Africa, a remarkable rate of 2.6%.

Many applicants from Ghana like their counterparts elsewhere, may, without much ado, be considered ineligible by a consular officer for the grant of a B visa. This may stem from a variety of reasons. That is not our concern here. We will discuss that at a future date. It is however the case that in the vast majority of cases, persons apply for a B visa without any knowledge about the eligibility requirements.

To be continued…

By Emmanuel Opoku Acheampong

Disclaimer: This article only provides general information and guidance on U.S. immigration law. The specific facts that apply to your matter may make the outcome different than would be anticipated by you. The writer will not accept any liability for any claims or inconvenience as a result of the use of this information

The writer is an immigration law adviser and a practicing law attorney in Ghana. He has special interests in the U.S. , UK, and Schengen immigration law. He works part-time as a consultant for Acheampong & Associates Ltd, an immigration law firm in Accra. He may be contacted on, or on 0200388706.