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Nonimmigrant Intent

Most foreign nationals applying for a US nonimmigrant visa are required to demonstrate that they plan to return home when they are done with their intended program or activity. This standard, known as Nonimmigrant Intent, requires the individual to have a residence abroad that he or she has no intention of abandoning.

As the applicant, the burden of proof is on you to show sufficient ties to your home country that will compel you to leave the United States after your temporary stay here. The US Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) assumes that foreign nationals have immigrant intent until they can show otherwise when applying for a nonimmigrant visa and/or entering the country in a nonimmigrant category.

This assumption can be difficult to overcome, which is why the most common reason for a visa denial is a failure to satisfy nonimmigrant intent.

Establishing Nonimmigrant Intent

During the visa interview (part of the visa application process), you must present evidence that you do not intend to abandon your home country and that you have significant economic, professional, and personal ties or reasons to return home once your program or activity is completed. Strong ties are not strictly defined and vary considerably by country, region, and individual.

Consular officers have a lot of discretion to decide whether the applicant has demonstrated sufficient nonimmigrant intent. It may help to collect supporting documentation to demonstrate:

  • Property ownership
  • Investments and other financial assets
  • Family and other social relationships
  • Offer of future employment

These items are not mandatory, nor do they guarantee that your visa will be approved. Instead, each applicant is evaluated individually during their interview.

Officers understand that younger applicants, such as undergraduate students, may not have the same opportunities to establish formal ties. You should be prepared to speak about your intentions and goals, long-term prospects, and reasons to return home. However, there is no standard combination of documents or circumstances that will automatically satisfy nonimmigrant intent.

Dual Intent

Not all visa categories are subject to nonimmigrant intent. The concept of Dual Intent allows a foreign national to be in temporary nonimmigrant status while at the same time be pursuing the process toward permanent residence statusin the United States.

Of the temporary nonimmigrant statuses sponsored by the University of Rochester, only H-1B  and O-1 recognize Dual Intent.