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Your length of stay in the US matters

Wednesday, January 02, 2013    

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Q: When I tried to renew my visa, my application was denied. I was always granted six months in the United States, and I always left after five months. Why would the embassy deny my application if I was following the rule?

A: When a consular officer reviews a visa renewal application, he/she seeks to determine whether the applicant's previous visa was used lawfully. Although you may have stayed for less than six months on each trip, the consular officer likely believed that you were working illegally in the United States during your long trips. A B-1/B-2 visa does not permit an individual to perform work such as babysitting or elder care, construction work or home repair in the United States.

Life in the United States is expensive, so you must demonstrate to the consular officer that you could comfortably support yourself during long trips to the United States without having to resort to working illegally. This can be very difficult to do, especially for individuals who have a pattern of frequent long trips to the United States.

Even if your aunt, cousin, sibling, or other relative was willing to pay for your food and other living expenses in the United States, it will be hard for the consular officer to understand how your family in Jamaica managed to support itself if you were not home in Jamaica to work and contribute to your family's finances.

To avoid any misunderstandings about your travel history, it is best to schedule your trips for reasonable periods of time. If you do choose to take long trips, come to your visa appointment prepared to explain in great detail how you spent your time in the United States and how you financed your trip.

For additional information regarding all types of non-immigrant and immigrant visas, please visit our website at: http://kingston.usembassy.gov/general_information.html. Applicants are encouraged to apply early in order to allow ample time for processing.

The US Embassy Kingston would like to remind visa applicants to be cautious in all dealings with individuals and companies that claim to offer any assistance in obtaining US visas. These individuals and companies may attempt to receive payment for forms and information about visa procedures that are free on the Embassy or Department of State website. Applicants are strongly encouraged to read the Department of State's fraud warning at: http://travel.state.gov/visa/immigrants/types/types_1749.html.

The Embassy staff in Kingston will answer questions you may have regarding the US Mission, including consular law, regulations and/or practice. In order to respect privacy, staff will not answer questions about specific visa applications. The embassy employs a visa appointment system, so it is only necessary for visa applicants to arrive 15 minutes before their scheduled appointment.

Send your questions to: editorial@jamaicaobserver.com and we will send them to the embassy.

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