Traveling is an essential part of my family life, and hubby and I make it a point to expose our son to different cultures even at his young age. Plus, it really is the best way to take a breather from our busy schedules. In the past two years, out of the seven trips abroad we took, three required visas. I still recall situations and stories of rejection that have kept us on our toes whenever we apply for one, especially for US visa applications.
So what should we do when we're denied a tourist visa? Here are some sound pieces of advice I've gathered around that may be of help.
Secure a US visa first
It is for the reason that people are daunted with applying for a US visa that I’ll use it as an example for this article. It may seem counterintuitive, but if you were denied in another country, showing that you were able to secure a US visa may be your ticket to get approved elsewhere. US visa is regarded as one of the hardest visas to acquire, and to get that out of the way may make it easier for you later on.
However, if it's the US visa you couldn’t get, then try to secure visas elsewhere first, like Japan, Korea, and Australia. Having a clean travel record in different countries is a reflection of your stature. While you’re at it, travel to non-visa countries, too!
Review the requirements
What made your application ineligible? Finding out the ineligibility set by the country’s laws will help you determine if you can overcome it by submitting supporting documents and the like. Some ineligibilities, however, are permanent, so its best for you to be informed about them.
It also sounds so simple, but trust me, I've had well-traveled friends who got denied just because they overlooked a requirement. Make sure you have filled out the form completely and secured all the proper documents needed. Have your documents organized before your next interview.
Reapplying is usually not a problem and you can reapply as many times as you wish (even on the next day!), but you must present evidence of changes from your last application that will warrant an approval. You can’t get your money back, so it's best to be equipped the first time to avoid wasting money.
Consuls are mainly looking for financial stability, or adequate financial support while away, and a solid reason for you to come back to your home country. Path2USA.com describes the latter as “strong ties,” or aspects that ties a person’s life to their country of residence.
It goes without saying that visa application interviewers will watch out for things like a criminal record, commitment of fraud, a health issue, or if you ever overstayed in a country before. According to travel.state.gov, there are some ineligibilities you can apply a waiver for. Although it doesn’t guarantee an approved visa, there’s a better chance of being issued with one.
There are also instances when the consul wouldn't even ask for the requirements. Don't offer to present anything unless you are asked. With visa applications that require submissions only and no interview, make sure you fill up the forms properly and submit with all the requirements.
Explain your capability to explore overseas and the reason you would go back to the home country clearly
I once witnessed an entire family get approved for a US visa except for one daughter. I’ll never forget her plea. I can only surmise that the interviewer felt the family didn't have enough reason to come back, and the denied daughter is the insurance.
I've talked to a grandmother who applied a total of four times and she was denied in every single one. She mentioned that she wanted to visit her older sister, but that she doesn't have any family left in the Philippines. We were both in line for the US visa application and unfortunately she was denied the fifth time.
I also had a friend who was planning to visit Hawaii with his family. He was a student in his late 20s, and the family had a well-established business in Manila. The consul asked him how he planned to support himself while abroad and he simply said, "My dad will pay for everything. And it's not like I want to work in your country." You can imagine what happened next.
Be truthful but also be prepared. Collect and present all your assets in case they ask for it. And be wary with your choice of words. Don't get rattled up. Speak clearly.
Be honest, relaxed yet formal
Consuls see interviewees and process applications day in and out, you can be sure that they can smell your agenda a mile away. I know you want that visa, but harness that eagerness and appear casual and pleasant.
As a necessity from the long lines and wait during the application process, wear comfortable and presentable clothes. Light make up will do you good, too. Some come to the embassy in suits and heels, but even if you're dressed to the nines, that doesn't up your chances of being approved.
Practice having conversation in English and make it as natural as possible. Expect questions thrown at you in succession, so be concise yet courteous.
Sometimes just an air of confidence is what you need. When my dad applied for a US visa, he caught the consul’s attention with the famous UK-based car magazine he had on hand. The minute the consul saw he was reading it, he asked about my dad's fondness for cars. What ensued was a light conversation that led to an approving stamp.
Are you ready to re-apply? Go get that visa and have fun with your travels!