Frequently Asked Questions
As an American, what can I do to help a citizen of Togo get a U.S. visa?
U.S. citizens may petition the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services in order to sponsor various categories of aliens to immigrate and work temporarily in the U.S. However, U.S. citizens do not have the legal right to sponsor an alien in order to facilitate that alien's entry into the U.S. for a temporary visit.
Under U.S. law, each applicant must be judged based upon the individual merits of his or her case. Each applicant has his or her specific purpose of travel as well as ties outside of the U.S. Current U.S. visa law states that the burden of proof is placed solely upon the applicant to prove that he or she is qualified for the type of visa for which he or she is applying.
There is no provision within the law for a U.S. citizen to guarantee the welfare of an alien in the U.S. nor their departure from the U.S.; therefore, a U.S. citizen cannot be held accountable for an alien even if he or she has signed an affidavit of support or a letter of guarantee. While documents from the U.S. are often informative, they are not determinate in the case of nonimmigrant visa eligibility.
In addition, we cannot accept documentation regarding a visa applicant outside the scope of the visa interview. Due to this, we encourage U.S. citizens to provide any visa applicant he or she is inviting to the U.S. with letters of invitation or any other pertinent information in advance of the applicant's interview so that the applicant may present them at the time of the interview. Helpful letters of invitation should include an explanation of the inviting party’s relationship with the applicant, what the applicant plans to do during the visit, the applicant’s intended length of stay, and what the inviting party understands the applicant's family, economic, and overall situation in Togo to be. Evidence of the inviting party’s legal status in the U.S. (a copy of a U.S. passport, USCIS certificate of naturalization, legal permanent resident card, or U.S. visa) is also helpful.
What documents are needed for a Togolese citizen to prove they arequalified for a visa?
Under U.S. law, each applicant must be judged based upon the individual merits of his or her case. Therefore, it would be unfair to state that each applicant must have documents to prove X, Y, and Z to qualify for a visa. Each applicant has his or her specific purpose of travel as well as ties outside of the U.S.
Current U.S. visa law states that the burden of proof is placed solely upon the applicant to prove they do not intend to immigrate to the U.S., and it is therefore his or her responsibility to document what he or she feels will compel them to exit the U.S.
We ask that each applicant be ready to discuss his or her ties during his or her visa interview and, if documentation is necessary, arrangements can be made for the applicant to present documentation pertinent to his or her eligibility.
Why was the Togolese citizen I invited to the U.S. denied a visa?
When visas are denied, it is normally due to the fact that the applicant failed to qualify for a visitor's visa under Section 214(b) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) of 1952, as amended.
Section 214(b) of the INA is the most common basis for denying a nonimmigrant visa. It stipulates that every applicant "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, . . . That he is entitled to a nonimmigrant status under section 101(a)(15)." Section 101(a)(15) states that a nonimmigrant is "an alien having a residence in a foreign country which he has no intention of abandoning and who is visiting the United States temporarily" for a variety of purposes which the law delineates (business, pleasure, student, etc.). According to the law, therefore, an applicant can only receive a visa if the consular officer adjudicating his case is satisfied:
- That the applicant has a residence abroad;
- That the applicant has no intention of abandoning that residence;
- That the intent of travel conforms to one of the nonimmigrant visa categories delineated in the INA.
Consular officers determine from objective evidence of strong family, economic, and social ties to an applicant's home country as well as the context of the country that an applicant has no intention of abandoning his residence there. Even if an applicant superficially displays such ties to his home country, the consular officer is still obligated by law to deny the visa application if the officer suspects that an applicant intends to abandon those ties, doubts the veracity of the ties, determines that the ties in the U.S. outweigh those in Togo, or the officer believes the purpose of travel is not permissible under the requested visa category.
Due to the Privacy Act, Department of State considerations, and the personal nature of information submitted on the visa application form, we cannot discuss the content of visa applications with the general public. Please do not feel that the denial of a nonimmigrant visa is in any way based upon the bona fides of the inviting party. The fact is that the applicant was unable to provide objective evidence at the time of the visa interview that it was not his or her intention to immigrate to the U.S., or, that the purpose of travel conforms to one of the visa categories as outlined by the INA. The burden of proof in that regard lies first and foremost with the applicant.
Ineligibility under Section 214(b) is by no means permanent. If, in a subsequent application, an applicant is able to convince the consular officer that he or she has no intention of abandoning his or her residence overseas (due to new evidence of strong ties not presented during the original application, or because the applicant's social, familial, or economic situation has changed in a way which strengthens his or her ties to his or her home country), he or she will be issued a visa. However, please be advised that this is no guarantee of issuance. Without new evidence of strong ties to Togo, the applicant may well not obtain a visa upon reapplication.
What is the difference between an immigrant and non-immigrant visa?
An immigrant visa is issued to a qualified person who has an approved petition based on a family or work relationship and who wishes to live in the U.S. permanently. A non-immigrant visa is issued to a person who is traveling to the U.S. for a specific purpose (vacation, studies, medical treatment, business, temporary work) and who will depart the U.S. after completion of that purpose.
I brought all the required documents during my interview. Why am I being asked to bring other documents?
During the visa interview, the consular officer determines if additional documents are required to help establish your eligibility for visa issuance. Secondary documents are not statutorily required. However, applicants should submit secondary documents to help establish their qualifications. When you are asked to provide additional information or supporting documents, your application is generally refused under Section 221(g) of the Immigration and Nationality Act. A consular sheet is given to you after the interview indicating the additional documentation you should present.
What else may delay a decision on my application?
The Embassy may need to local up original civil records or consult with other official agencies to confirm or verify information about an applicant. An unterminated marriage to a person other than the petitioner, for instance, would disqualify an applicant with a spouse or a fiancé(e) petition.
The Embassy may also conduct investigations to determine the qualifications of applicants to be eligible for visa issuance.
When these extra steps are taken, visa issuance may be delayed. Applicants are advised not to finalize their travel arrangements until they have been issued visas.
Will the same consular officer talk to me if I have to return to the Embassy?
There is no assurance that you will be seen by the same consular officer. All officers have access to the same information about your case and should review your application based on the same requirements.
Can the children of an immigrant visa applicant be included in a single petition?
Children of American citizens are considered Immediate Relatives (IR) and must have individual petitions filed for them. Petitions for immediate relatives may be filed simultaneously at the USCIS.
Children of applicants with family-based petitions (F category) may derive immigration benefits from the same petition provided that they are single and under 21. Such children are called "derivatives" for purposes of immigration. Only biological or legally-adopted children are entitled to derivative status. A non-orphan adopted child must have been legally adopted before the age of 16 and must have been in the physical and legal custody of the adoptive parent for at least two years.
A child born after a petition was filed and approved may be registered or added on to the petition as a derivative. The principal applicant needs to submit the child's birth certificate printed on NSO paper either to the NVC or to the Embassy and pay the corresponding visa processing fee for each additional derivative
Can my child, who is nearing 21 years old, be issued a visa before he turns 21?
If visa numbers are available for you (or your visa case becomes current for processing) and your child is "aging out" (or turning 21), we are prepared to expedite the processing of the application. However, it is still the applicant's responsibility to complete the application requirements in a timely manner.
U.S. immigration law requires that visa applications be strictly processed according to priority date because of the limited number of visas available worldwide. If you believe ageing out will affect your case, you may contact the Embassy at 228-261-5470.
We have raised a child who is neither our biological or legally adopted child. Can he/she be included as a derivative on our immigrant visa application?
No. A child may only become your derivative if that child is either born to you or meets the definition of an adopted child under the Immigration and Nationality Act. If you attempt to bring in a child who does not meet any of these definitions, you risk being denied an immigrant visa and being barred permanently from entering the United States.
Can a child born outside the United States to Legal Permanent Residents enter the United States?
A child born abroad to a mother who is a U.S. Legal Permanent Residents may enter the United States without a visa, provided the child is accompanied by a parent, upon that parent's first return to the United States within two years of the child's birth. The parent must provide reliable documentation showing the parent-child relationship.
The Legal Permanent Resident parents left the child abroad with family members and returned to the United States. Now, they wish to bring the child to the U.S. What must they do?
The child must have an immigrant visa to enter the United States. The Legal Permanent Resident parent(s) must file an F2A (minor child) or F2B (unmarried child over 21 years old) preference petition with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. (can't they also FTJ in some cases?)
I was a Legal Permanent Resident ("Green Card" holder) who left the United States for several years. Can I still return to the United States using my Green Card?
As a Legal Permanent Resident you may remain outside the United States for only one year unless you receive a re-entry permit from the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services before your departure from the United States. Otherwise, you are considered to have forfeited your status and must either be re-petitioned or apply for a Returning Resident Visa. The returning resident visa is granted only when circumstances beyond your control prevented you from returning to your U.S. domicile within the required period of time.
Can I still qualify for a tourist visa if I have a pending immigrant petition?
Having an immigrant petition on file is not grounds for an automatic refusal for a non-immigrant visa. The consular officer reviewing your non-immigrant visa application will require strong evidence that you are not intending to immigrate at this time and that you are returning to the Togo after your planned and temporary visit to the United States.
When does the Embassy require a DNA test?
Relationship fraud for immigrant visa purposes is a major problem in the Togo and we are often compelled to ask applicants to take additional steps to establish relationships. In the absence of any conclusive evidence, we believe that DNA testing is a more reliable and reasonable way to validate the claimed relationship.
The DNA testing is not a requirement. It is for the petitioner to decide whether to submit to the testing procedure. While it can be expensive, DNA testing is offered as the most logical alternative and a useful tool for verifying biological relationships when no other form of credible evidence is available. The burden of proof is upon the petitioner and/or parent to establish the claimed relationship.
The Embassy requires that DNA testing be done at a laboratory accredited by the American Association of Blood Banks (AABB). The U.S. laboratory sends a testing kit and instructions directly to the Embassy, which collects the samples or specimen and ships these to the U.S. laboratory. The test results are not given to the applicant. The original copy of the test result is sent directly to the Embassy.