“My friend’s nephew was recently denied the chance to come to New York by U.S. immigration. He arrived at Dublin Airport and was turned away. The officer told him that he was likely to stay in the U.S. for more than 90 days and therefore he was being denied. But this is not the case. He wanted to come here for three weeks to see if he likes it here, and if so he would have thought about ways to stay. He is 20 and has never been here before, and now it seems like it will be very difficult for him. This seems unfair and illegal. What can he do to get here?”


Unfair? Maybe. Illegal? Definitely not.

U.S. Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) officers have the right to deny entry to travelers if it is determined that they would overstay their allotted time, which in this case would have been the 90 days allowed under the visa waiver program.

The program allows citizens from 35 countries, including Ireland, to enter the U.S. for up to 90 days without having to obtain an entry visa from a U.S. consular post beforehand. But the availability of the waiver doesn’t mean that the traveler gets an automatic pass into the U.S.

In the case of your friend’s nephew, it seems he may fit the profile of a typical traveler denied entry under the visa waiver program – young, male and single, an indicator that binding ties to the home country may not be that strong, thus increasing the likelihood of an overstay.

Does this young man have a steady job in Ireland? Does he attend university or some other type of learning institution that he’s committed to returning to? If so, he obviously had difficulty proving this to the officer who denied his entry.

All is not lost, however. As his visa waiver was turned down he will not be able to avail of the program again, in accordance with its rules.

However, there’s nothing stopping him from contacting the U.S. Embassy in Dublin and applying for a B tourist visa, which in many ways is better to have because it gives the holder more rights. (For instance, those entering the U.S. on a visa waiver can stay for only 90 days with no extensions allowed, while a B visa holder can apply for, and usually receive, more time.)

The process for applying for a B visa is fully explained on the embassy’s website at It can be done online, but a personal interview will also be required once the application has been processed.

At that interview, your friend’s nephew will have to bring proof that his stay in the U.S. will be temporary, such as a letter from an employer or a school, and that he has a full-time residence in Ireland to return to. Any other letters of reference – for instance, from a local politician or clergy member – would also be helpful.

He’ll also need to show that he’ll be financially independent once he arrives in the U.S. A letter from whomever he’ll be staying with here, stating that accommodation will be provided, would also bolster his case.

There is no guarantee that the application will be successful, so the more evidence he can muster up to show that he’ll leave the U.S. at the required time, the better his chances will be.    

If he is issued a B visa it will be good for multiple entries to the U.S. for 10 years.