Incorrect Visa Refusal Notation Can Cause Hardship

As previously reported on MurthyDotCom, the U.S. Department of State (DOS) experienced large-scale computer problems this summer that resulted in visa issuance delays globally. While these issues have been resolved, the resulting notations in some visa applicants’ files have raised additional questions. The DOS addressed these concerns in an October 9, 2014, liaison meeting with representatives of the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA).

Refusal Notations Reported

The DOS experienced serious technical problems with the agency’s Consular Consolidated Database (CCD) in July and August 2014. This caused delays in issuance of visas of all types at U.S. consulates abroad.

Those who applied for visas between July 20, 2014 mid-August may have notations of refused in their respective records pertaining to those visa applications. Individuals have reported such notations showing on the DOS Consular Electronic Application Center (CEAC). The DOS is in the process of determining how best to resolve this potential problem for the benefit of visa applicants.

Prior Visa Refusal for Form DS-160

The DOS confirmed that individuals who simply experienced delays due to the CCD problems in the 2014 summer are not considered to have been refused a visa. This is important, as the DS-160, nonimmigrant visa application form, asks “Have you ever been refused a U.S. Visa…” It is, of course, important to provide truthful information on any visa application.

ESTA and Visa Refusal Notation for VWP Nationals

The Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA), utilized by foreign nationals requesting admission under the visa waiver program (VWP), also asks about prior visa refusals. For these applicants, the existence of a prior refusal can be quite problematic. It could result in a denial of ESTA authorization, meaning the individual would be required to obtain a visa “stamp” in order to be admitted to the United States.

Prior Visa Refusal or Error in Notation

It is important to determine whether or not a refusal has occurred. There are many situations in which a visa is issued after initially being refused, leading some applicants to conclude incorrectly that, therefore, there was no actual refusal. The visa application process at the consulate is such that even a request for more documentation is generally considered a refusal. More information about visa refusal reporting is available in the MurthyDotCom NewsBrief, 221(g) Visa Stamp is Considered a Visa Refusal (18.Dec.2009).


The efforts of the DOS to investigate reports of improper refusal notations is appreciated. Individuals who are experiencing any problems, or who otherwise need assistance with visa related matters, are welcome to consult to with a Murthy Law Firm attorney.

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Disclaimer: The information provided here is of a general nature and may not apply to any specific or particular circumstance. It is not to be construed as legal advice nor presumed indefinitely up to date.