I am a British citizen who is having a difficult time obtaining a visa

Question:

I am a British citizen and seek entry into the United States to visit for pleasure or attend school. I have traveled to the United States several times before, but on my last trip I experienced some issues with U.S. Customs and Border Protection. During inspection, CBP officers searched my bags and found my business cards. I explained that I was not under any circumstances entering to work, and that I just happened to have my cards with me at the time. I was eventually allowed to enter, however, I feel that border officials may have made negative notes on my record.

Now, I would like to return to the United State to attend carpentry school. I am 45 years old, but continuing my education has always been important to me. I applied for an F-1 visa application, but it was denied. Also, I would like the opportunity to immerse myself into American culture.

I cannot say for sure, but I believe that there may be negative notes on my immigration record that prevents me from returning to the U.S. as a visitor or student.

Answer:

Thank you for your question. Based on the information you provided in your question, it is difficult to determine why you are encountering issues with Customs and Border Protection and the Department of State. Below is some general information that I believe you may find helpful.

Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) Request

One way to obtain valuable information about your immigration history, including possible negative information, is to make a FOIA request. Requests can be made to the United States Citizenship and Immigrations Service and U.S. Customs and Border Protection. Based on the agency, you may be required to submit your request in writing or online.

Visa Eligibility and INA § 214(b)

To obtain a visa, you must meet the visa requirements and overcome the presumption of immigrant intent under INA § 214(b). In your question you make no mention of why your F-1 visa application was denied, however, the consular officer who reviewed your application likely provided you with information regarding your denial. I would encourage you to review your documents. In the event that you are unable to find any documentation, however, filing a FOIA request is the next best step.

Pursuant to INA § 214(b):

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 a visa, and the immigration officers, at the time of application for admission, that he is entitled to a nonimmigrant status under section 101(a)(15) .

Thus, it is possible that your visa application was denied because you did not overcome the presumption of immigrant intent, by sufficiently demonstrating that you have strong ties to your home country that will compel you to leave the United States at the end of your temporary stay. (H-1B and L visa applicants, along with their spouse and any minor children, are excluded from this requirement.) Examples of strong ties include a job, home, family and friends, property, and bank accounts.

With so much uncertainty surrounding your immigration history, I would refrain from filing a new visa application and submit a FOIA request. Once you receive your FOIA request, please feel free to contact the office so that we can review your FOIA, discuss your options, and prepare a strategy.