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A friend with whom I was planning to travel to the United States was rejected under Section 214(b), failure to show strong home ties. In my opinion, her visa interview was handled unprofessionally and unfairly. How often does this happen and can anything be done?

She is Romanian and is about to graduate with an information engineering (Machine Learning) Master's degree from one of the top colleges in the UK. Her family is financially well off, and fully supports her. She does not yet have a job lined up, but she is in a position to start a prestigious career either in the UK or in Romania.

We had booked a full itinerary. We have both traveled all over Europe, and been to the US before. She had all the relevant documents to prove these things.

Her interview proceeded as follows (slightly simplified):

Q: What do you study? A: Information Engineering.
Q: What is information engineering? A: bla bla bla
Q: When do you graduate? A: -In a week
Q: Who are you travelling with? A: My boyfriend
Q: What does he study? A: Maths
Q: When does he graduate? A: Same time

Unfortunately, I have to reject you because you are at a particularly flexible stage in your life.

At this point, the interviewer refused to allow her to show any documents including her bank statemeet or travel itinerary, stating that she had already been rejected. I'd also like to add that I am from the UK so do not require a visa.

I understand the logic behind the "flexible stage" jsutification; however, it does not make sense for my friend to violate her visa status by working or overstaying because:

1) She does not need the money in the short term (as her bank statement shows).
2) She could get a much better and higher paying job by working legally at home with her qualifications.
3) Given an appropriate interview, she should have been able to demonstrate as well as anyone that she fully intends to return home.

Is this kind of treatment typical? Is there anything that can be done? Is it worth trying to apply again?

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    Do you have any travel history outside your country? Even though you may me a genuine visitor, the officer makes his decision based on probabilities. There is a good chance someone in your position may not return. – greatone Jun 24 '17 at 10:33
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    All over Europe, both of us. We have both been to the US before. – Shakespeare Jun 24 '17 at 10:34
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    The way the b2 visa works is that the officer is to assume every applicant is a immigrant until he can prove otherwise. Unfortunately, the officer believed you might be planning to 'visit' and then apply for a status change. – greatone Jun 24 '17 at 10:37
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    Is this treatment typical? Yes. Nothing can be done except reapply. Not worth applying in the short term. – user57303 Jun 24 '17 at 12:27
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    Yes, this is typical. I have been meted out a similar treatment a year back when I was six months into my master's degree and had 1.5 years left. Had all the docs, he refused to see. He saw I was male, single, CS graduate, refused it. Did not apply since then, probably once I get a job. – trollster Jun 25 '17 at 7:28
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Let us look at this from the point of view of the immigration officer. If you had to write a profile of a person who was most likely to try to overstay in the US and look for work illegally, a very good profile would be:

  • Young
  • Recently graduated in a discipline for which there is high demand in the US
  • No job waiting for them at home
  • No other ties to their home country that would compel them to return
  • From a country where wages in this discipline are substantially lower than in the US

You unfortunately absolutely fit this profile. The interview you describe absolutely establishes that. US immigration are compelled to presume that you will attempt to overstay your visa, and it is up to you convince them otherwise. It's nothing personal, and nothing is to be gained by taking it personally.

Let's consider your objections:

  • "refused to allow her to show any documents including her bank statement or travel itinerary". I wouldn't have mattered how rich you were, or what you claimed to be doing. It would not have altered your match to the above profile.
  • "She does not need the money in the short term". Illegal immigration is about the long term. Over a ten or twenty year period an information engineering graduate could make a huge amount of money in the US compared with any amount her bank statement is likely to show.
  • "She could get a much better and higher paying job by working legally at home" A rough investigation shows that a software developer in Romania earns a median of about $25000. The same developer in the US would earn about three times that.
  • "Given an appropriate interview, she should have been able to demonstrate as well as anyone that she fully intends to return home.". It's not clear from the question how she might have done that.
  • " in a position to start a prestigious career either in the UK or in Romania". This actually shows a willingness to work abroad, which isn't going to be in her favour. And a career in the UK is no longer going to be automatic for Romanians quite soon.

What would have made this problem better? Essentially demonstrating ties to your home. Having all the things that a person settled in her home country might have, like a permanent job, a house or apartment.

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    This is a good answer, however I have an issue with your reasoning - is it really possible to get a high paying job as a software developer working illegally in the US? This is the fundamental issue - she would have to overstay her visa and work illegally, but that doesn't open the door to the kind of jobs that fit her profile – Shakespeare Jun 24 '17 at 20:29
  • You could apply for a change of status once in the USA. – greatone Jun 24 '17 at 23:10
  • @greatone but why on earth would you have a system in which that's easier than applying for a change of status or the status itsself anywhere else in the world? – Shakespeare Jun 25 '17 at 1:42
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    Your question in first comment is a good one. It may be. The US is simultaneously extremely upset by illegal immigrants and one of the easiest places to work illegally in. – DJClayworth Jun 25 '17 at 2:50
  • Because the USA is a country of immigrants. Besides, most laws are arbitrary and often make little sense. Immigration laws restricting work are against the essence of democracy and freedom but until the world is on economic parity, the rich will continue to oppress the poor. – greatone Jun 25 '17 at 3:16

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