Citizens from Rich Countries are More Likely to get US Visas

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It might sound unfair but the fact is that if you are a citizen from a rich country, you have a better chance of getting a US visa than if you were a citizen of a poorer country. The US government has strict regulations around immigration and issuing of visas and some of the criteria results in favor towards citizens of richer countries.

Visa Waiver Program Criteria

One of the biggest examples of how rich countries benefit from more freedom to travel to the US, is the Visa Waiver Program criteria. The US has an agreement with 40 countries that form the Visa Waiver Program, so that citizens of those agreed countries can travel to the US without a visa. One of the key requirements for countries to be part of the VWP is that the country has a high-income economy.

B-Visa Denial

For travellers that are not from a VWP country, if they wish to visit the US for tourism, business or medical treatment, they will usually require a B visa. Research revealed that the denial rates for B visas of citizens of richer countries was considerably less than those from poorer countries. Citizens of Nigeria had a particularly high denial rate in the fiscal year 2019, which was before the Trump administration added the country to the US travel ban list.

Meanwhile, citizens of countries such as UK, Ireland and Germany were much more likely to get approved for the B visa. The five countries with the highest increase in visa denial rate between 2015 and 2019 were: Iran, Libya, Venezuela, Chad and Nigeria.

The biggest reason that the US government denies B visa applications is ‘failure to establish entitlement to nonimmigration status’. This reason is generally given when there are concerns as to whether the visa applicant would return to their country when the visa expires, or whether they would illegally remain in the US.

B Visa Application Process and Criteria

There are two different types of B visa, the B-1 visa which is used for business purposes and the B-2 which is for tourism purposes. Applying for the visas involves filling in the DS-160 form for the non-immigrant visa application. There is also an interview that would be part of the process, which the applicant must attend in their home country at the US Embassy or Consulate. There is currently an application fee for B visas of $160, which must be paid when submitting the application and the fee is non refundable, even if the visa gets denied.

The USCIS will review the application and determine whether the applicant is to have their B visa approved or not. They will check through the purposes of the trip and may ask for additional information to help them to make their decision. They may ask for evidence that return flights have been booked. They will also check details of any previous trips the applicant has made to the US.

If a B visa is approved, the person is able to stay in the US for a maximum of 180 days and must stay within the rules of the visa, therefore they are not able to work whilst in the US without a working visa.


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