Visa Trends – Higher Refusal Rates in 2015

The Department of State recently published its 2015 refusal statistics for B visas.  Several countries exceed the 60% mark: Syria, Gambia, Federated States of Micronesia, Mauritania, Liberia, Laos, Haiti, Somalia, Guinea-Bissau, Ghana, Cuba, and Afghanistan.  Among the most populous countries, the refusal rates greatly vary: China – 10.03%; India – 23.78%; Indonesia – 8.71%; Bangladesh – 59.96%; Pakistan – 40.4%; Nigeria – 32.56%; Russia – 10.24%; Philippines – 27.96%; Turkey – 13.88%; and Ukraine – 34.03%. These 2015 refusal rates represent an increase over 2014 for most of these populous countries: for example, the refusal rate for India jumped nearly 4%; in Turkey – more than 6%; in Ukraine – more than 6%; the Philippines – more than 3%; in Pakistan – more than 2%; in Russia – more than 2%; and China – 1%.

While on the surface these percentage increases may not seem significant, for these countries – with tens or hundreds of thousands of visa applicants – they translate in to thousands of additional refusals.   The increase can be chalked up to a number of factors, such as turmoil in a country (e.g., Ukraine); economic downturn (e.g., China); validation studies showing an increase in visa overstays from that country; or new consular personnel or policies at a particular post. Denial under Section 214(b) is far and away the most commonly-invoked legal basis for refusing these visas.

The refusal rate is important for a number of reasons. For example, if a country attains a 3% refusal rate it may be considered for participation in the Visa Waiver Program. The Visa Waiver Program allows for visa-free travel to the United States for business, tourism, and medical purposes for nationals of those countries accepted into the Program.  It is not only a matter of prestige, but a great boom to commercial and leisure travel.  Currently, there are 38 countries participating in the VWP. Based on the recently-released statistics, it does not appear that any of the countries listed above will be joining VWP anytime soon.



This entry was posted in 214(b), Consular Officers, Department of State, US Embassy Delhi, US Embassy Kyiv, US Embassy Moscow, Visa Denial, Visa Refusal, Visa Refusal Rates. Bookmark the permalink.

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