Integrity Legal

25th February 2011

It recently came to this blogger’s attention that the Department of State has proposed a final rule which would raise some of the costs and fees associated with the J-1 visa, a travel document designed for exchange visitors wishing to visit the United States of America. To quote directly from the Federal Register’s official website FederalRegister.gov:

§ 62.17 Fees and charges.

(a) Remittances. Fees prescribed within the framework of 31 U.S.C. 9701 must be submitted as directed by the Department and must be in the amount prescribed by law or regulation...

(b) Amounts of fees. The following fees are prescribed...

(1) For filing an application for program designation and/or redesignation (Form DS-3036)—$2,700.00…

(2) For filing an application for exchange visitor status changes (i.e., extension beyond the maximum duration, change of category, reinstatement, reinstatement-update, SEVIS status, ECFMG sponsorship authorization, and permission to issue)—$233.00.

The administration of this blog highly recommends that those interested in this issue click on the links above to read the Federal Register entry in its entirety.

Those who are unfamiliar with the J-1 visa should also note that this visa category is sometimes utilized by foreign nationals wishing to act as Au pairs in the United States of America.

Pursuant to the provisions of section 214(b) of the United States Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) Consular Officers at every US Embassy or US Consulate abroad are required to make the presumption that the applicant for a non-immigrant visa is actually an intending immigrant unless the applicant can provide evidence to overcome this presumption. This triggers a “strong ties” vs. “weak ties” analysis in the mind of the interviewing Consular officer. During such an analysis, the Consular officer will weigh the ties that the applicant has to their home country and compare these with the applicant’s ties to the United States. If the offficer feels that the applicant has stronger ties to a country abroad than to the USA, then the visa will likely be granted.

In some cases, applicants for a United States visa are denied. This would seem to happen more frequently in non-immigrant visa cases than immigrant visa cases, but this can, at least partially, be attributed to the stringent analysis that all Consular Officers must make during the adjudication of certain non-immigrant visa applications. Should a visa be denied, then it may be possible to request reconsideration of that decision. That said, appealing visa denials, especially denials pursuant to section 214(b), is difficult, if not impossible, pursuant to the doctrine of Consular Non-Reviewability (sometimes referred to as Consular Absolutism). This doctrine states that, with exceptions in rare and highly extreme circumstances, a Consular Officer’s discretion regarding the issuance of a visa is virtually absolute.

Some have pondered whether the provisions of section 214(b) applies to applicants for a K-1 visa. In point of fact, although the K-1 visa is a non-immigrant visa category similar to the J-1 visa; the K-1 visa applicant is not scrutinized subject to section 214(b) of the INA as the applicant for said US fiance visa is entitled to have immigrant intent at the time of the K-1 application.


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