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Ties that bind

Question:

I applied for a visa to the United States but I did not get one. The officer I spoke to said something about "ties", but I'm really confused by what she meant. Can you tell me what I need to do to get a visa?

Confused in Couva

Answer:

Under US law, all non-immigrant visa applicants are presumed to be an immigrant until they establish—to the satisfaction of the consular officer during the visa application process—they are entitled to non-immigrant status. This means applicants need to convince the consular officer they have compelling reasons and sufficient ties to return to live and work in Trinidad and Tobago after a short visit to the US.

By law, the burden of proof is on the applicants to show they qualify for the visa. Ties are the economic and social aspects of applicants' lives that bind them to their place of residence and includes, but is not limited to, family relationships, employment, finances and possessions.

Evidence of ties to Trinidad and Tobago may come in many forms, and when considered together, it must be strong enough for the consular officer to conclude that the applicant's ties to Trinidad and Tobago will compel her or him to return at the end of a temporary stay in the US. To show evidence of sufficient ties, an applicant may wish to submit supporting documents such as bank statements, job letters, tax returns, credit card statements, business registrations, and property deeds though such documentary evidence is not required and may or may not be reviewed by a consular officer.

It should be noted that providing such documents does not guarantee applicants are qualified for a visa, and the supporting documents may be reviewed at the discretion of the interviewing officer. Consular officers depend primarily on the application form and the questions they pose during the interview to judge an applicant's qualifications and may not look at supporting documents unless there is an aspect of the application that needs clarification.

In the case of younger applicants who may not have had an opportunity to establish strong ties, interviewing officers look at educational status, grades, their parents' situation and the applicants' long-term plans and prospects in Trinidad and Tobago. However, as each person's situation is different, there is no set answer as to what constitutes adequate ties.

• Send your questions and comments to:

askUSconsultrinidad@state.gov

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