“A second cousin of mine in Ireland was recently denied a B visa. It was his second time applying for a U.S. visa; once before he was denied at Dublin Airport when he tried to use the visa waiver program. He is being denied under something called provision 214(b). He is 22 years old, unemployed in Ireland and finished the equivalent of a high school education in Ireland. He lives at home with his family and doesn’t have much money. 

“He has no intention of staying on in the U.S. beyond two or three weeks. He was coming for a holiday and a change of pace, but it seems like this is an impossible dream. What can someone like him do to get a visa? My family and I would provide room and board for him during his stay, but this doesn’t seem to matter at the U.S. Embassy. Are they cracking down on visas because of the recession in Ireland?”

Section 214(b) of the Immigration and Nationality Act reads in part: “Every alien shall be presumed to be an immigrant until he establishes to the satisfaction of the consular officer, at the time of application for admission, that he is entitled to a nonimmigrant status.”

What this means is that the burden of proof is on the visa applicant to establish that he has binding ties and a permanent residence abroad that he does not intend to abandon in favor of staying in the U.S. beyond the amount of time granted by the visa.

Showing permanent ties can be very difficult for a young, unemployed person such as your cousin. It isn’t surprising that a U.S. consular officer would tag him as a possible visa overstay because of his youth, and the fact that he has no job to return to.

However, Section 214(b) denials are not permanent, and there is nothing stopping him from re-applying for a visa. Obviously, though, he’s going to have to present his case in a stronger, more persuasive manner.

“In cases of younger applicants who may not have had an opportunity to form many ties, consular officers may look at the applicant’s specific intentions, family situations, and long-range plans and prospects within his or her country of residence. Each case is examined individually and is accorded every consideration under the law,” says the State Department’s website.

You say that your cousin is unemployed and doesn’t have much money. If that’s the best picture he can present of himself then chances are his visa application will continue to be denied.

Is he perhaps enrolled in a job training course? Is there anything that he’s doing at home that requires him to assume a position of responsibility? Is there anyone in a position of authority who can attest to his character and his desire to return home after his holiday?

Your family’s wish to offer him a place to stay during his time here doesn’t really factor into the equation of his being approved or denied a visa. “You may provide a letter of invitation or support. However, this cannot guarantee visa issuance to a foreign national friend, relative or student. Visa applicants must qualify for the visa according to their own circumstances, not on the basis of an American sponsor's assurance,” says the State Department.

“Unfortunately, some applicants will not qualify for a nonimmigrant visa, regardless of how many times they reapply, until their personal, professional, and financial circumstances change considerably.”

You ask if there is a crackdown on U.S. visa issuance in Ireland because of the recession there. There is no change in visa policy, but yes, it would be reasonable to assume that people such as your cousin will receive extra scrutiny from U.S. officials because of the worsening Irish economy and the desire of Irish citizens to ride out the storm while working abroad, even if they become undocumented in the process.