When you apply for US Visa stamping at a US Consulate, the first thing you need to check is the eligibility to get visa stamping. Many a times, you may have all the documents and qualify to apply for a visa, and even get a interview slot…but in situations like COVID or when US national emergency is declared by President, there can be presidential proclamations in place that can prevent you from getting stamping done.
In this article, we will look at Section 212(f) and what can happen, if you attend interview, when you do not qualify for exceptions in such situations. Also, we will look at samples given to some of our community users in recent times.
What is Section 212(f) of INA ?
As per Immigration and Nationality Act – Section 212(f), US President gets the broadest authority to block anyone from entering US. Below is the actual regulation screenshot of INA Section 212(f). It basically means that, if President believes that entry of any foreigner is not in the best interest of US, then they can by Executive Order or Proclamation block the entry of them as needed. You can read Can US President ban entry to US for more details and see previous presidents who have used it.
Travel Ban Executive Orders with Text of Section 212(f)
If you look at previous Proclamations 10014 and 10052 by Trump, you can see the reference to INA 212(f) as highlighted in the screenshot below that the President used the power granted to him under Section 212(f) to ban entry to US.
What does it mean when Proclamation is in effect based on Section 212(f)?
When the Presidential Proclamation or Executive Order (EO) is in effect based on INA Section 212(f), all the categories of individuals listed under the proclamation or EO are banned from getting US Visa or entry to US, unless they qualify for exceptions as listed in the Proclamation or Executive Order.
If you book an appointment and try to go for visa stamping, when not eligible under exceptions from proclamation, then Consular Officer would issue you a sheet of paper that says “Ineligible for a Visa under Section 212(f)”. Let’s look a sample and details below.
Sample Form – Ineligible for a visa under Section 212(f)
Below is the sample form that is typically issued by US Consular officer, when you attend visa interview and not eligible for exceptions related to Proclamation or Executive Order.
There are two options in the form. Depending on the applicant eligibility the consular officer would select one of the options.
- Not eligible for an Exception: If the Consular Officer believes that you are not eligible for exceptions related to Proclamation or Executive order, then they would select the first option that says “…Consular Officer has determined that you are not eligible for an exception…you may reapply for visa at any time..”. If the consular officer selects that this decision is final, there is no review that will be done by the officer and you have to start over again and apply for new visa stamping application again.
- Reviewing eligibility for Exception: If the consular officer is not sure, if the applicant qualifies for an exception, then they would select this option asking for more time to review the candidate’s eligibility for exception for the proclamation. If the consular officer gives this option, it means that there is some hope left and it is not all done. They may ask for documents at times, sometimes, they do not ask for anything and say that they will come back. This option is definitely better than first option. If you get this, you would hear from Consulate on their decision and next steps.
If you notice closely, the date on the above form given by US Consulate in Mumbai is March 15th, 2021. It clearly tells that you need to qualify for exceptions under Travel ban to be eligible for visa stamping. If not, you would get a form like this and you will lose money and need to start over. Check Trump Travel Ban – H1B, L1, H4, other – Exceptions for Stamping Travel
Is getting a Visa Ineligible letter under 212(f) negative thing for future ?
Getting a form from Consular Officer that says “Ineligible for a Visa under Section 212(f)” may or may not directly impact your visa stamping for the future. The reason is that it is not directly tied to your application or your qualification, rather it is saying that you are not even eligible to apply due to Section 212(f) of INA related to proclamation that is in effect. If you know, you are not eligible for exception, do not go for stamping…
Some go to Visa stamping without aware of this and get this form, it is probably pure lack of knowledge or not paying too much attention and hoping they would get lucky…It is always important to check the consulate, and your attorney and then only go for stamping. See below guidance on US Embassy India website clearly tells you need to qualify for exception to get stamping. If you read this and still go, it is your mistake.
Below are some more samples of variants of forms given based on Section 212(f) during the last few months in India.