Ask the Consul — March 2019

Question:

I want to visit my mother, a green card holder, who lives in New York. I was denied a visa when I applied. The officer said I did not qualify and I was given a letter that mentioned “ties.” My best friend applied for a visa last year to go to Disneyworld, and she got the same letter when she was refused. What are ties? Why were my friend and I both denied for the same reason when we had different travel purposes?

Answer:

Under U.S. law, non-immigrant visa applicants traveling for business, tourism or study must demonstrate to the consular officer they will not use the visa to immigrate to the U.S. Only when they have established this to the satisfaction of the consular officer will they be approved for a visitor visa.
This means you need to convince the consular officer you have credible reasons for travel and will return home after a short visit to the United States. “Ties” are the factors or reasons for a person to return. Depending on who you are, you may have many different reasons to go to the United States. Likewise, there could be many different things that tie you to Trinidad and Tobago. You have to tell the consular officer what those ties are during the visa interview.
Examples of ties are the economic, familial, social, and other aspects of your life that call you back home. Consular officers consider family relationships, employment, finances, and possessions among other factors. Evidence of ties may come in many forms, and when considered as a whole, the evidence must be strong enough for the consular officer to conclude that you will return at the end of a temporary stay in the U.S. Some people simply do not have adequate ties and will not be able to get a visa unless their life circumstances change substantially.
It is your responsibility during the visa interview to explain to the consular officer both your travel purpose and what ties you have to Trinidad and Tobago. To show evidence of sufficient ties, you can and should bring supporting documents such as bank statements, job letters, tax returns, credit card statements, business registrations, and property deeds, in case the consular officer asks for evidence to support your answers to his/her questions. Economic ties are usually the easiest to document. However, providing documents does not guarantee that you will qualify for a visa, and the supporting documents are usually only reviewed at the discretion of the interviewing officer. As documenting social, family, and other ties can be difficult, officers are trained not to rely on documents. It is your answers to the officer that are most important.

In the case of younger applicants who may not have had an opportunity to establish strong ties, consular officers look at the applicants’ other links and connections to Trinidad and Tobago and long-term plans and prospects. Each person’s situation is different and there is no set answer as to what constitutes adequate ties.