221(g)

Standard Template (Administrative Processing)

Your application for a nonimmigrant visa has not been refused. At present, your application must be suspended under section 221g of the immigration and nationality Act, as amended (INA), for further review at the Department of State or by another agency. Embassy xxxxxx will resume action on your application after we are informed that this review is completed. Please be advised, however, we do not control the pace or scope of this review.

  • Administrative processing
  • Waiver of ineligibility

When the process is complete, we will contact you with further instructions or to advise you that your visa is ready for pick-up.

What it Means to the Applicant:

You have just attended a visa interview to get a visa to enter United States. But rather than approving or denying your petition you have been told that your application needs further work and they are putting you under 221(g), handing you a colored slip mentioning that your application has been suspended under section 221(g). Your petition and supporting documents have already been approved by US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) but the consulate does not take that approval into consideration. So what does this mean?

221(g) is a temporary refusal or hold on the issuance of visa. The immigration team at the consulate is not fully convinced that the applicant is qualified to receive the visa on the day of the interview. So they want to obtain additional documents or information to verify the credentials of the applicant before the visa can be issued. So rather than giving a rejection the case is put on hold until they can investigate and ascertain the applicant is qualified to receive the visa. There is no real timeline how long this process can take. It can be completed in a week or drag on for a few months or take more than a year.

It means you will not be able to enter United States for now. You will not be able to make it to your work in US, your property (house, car, business) and possessions have to wait and any timely appointments have to be cancelled since there is no timeline for 221(g). This can happen to individuals who have been living in United States for years and had appeared at a consulate for getting their approved visa stamped to their passport when they traveled out of USA.

Video Explanation of 221(g) and Some Concerns

In the Words of Department of State:

Section 221(g) of the Immigration and Nationality Act

(g) No visa or other documentation shall be issued to an alien if (1) it appears to the consular officer, from statements in the application, or in the papers submitted therewith, that such alien is ineligible to receive a visa or such other documentation under section 212, or any other provision of law, (2) the application fails to comply with the provisions of this Act, or the regulations issued thereunder, or (3) the consular officer knows or has reason to believe that such alien is ineligible to receive a visa or such other documentation under section 212, or any other provision of law: Provided, That a visa or other documentation may be issued to an alien who is within the purview of section 212(a)(4), if such alien is otherwise entitled to receive a visa or other documentation, upon receipt of notice by the consular officer from the Attorney General of the giving of a bond or undertaking providing indemnity as in the case of aliens admitted under section 213: Provided further, That a visa may be issued to an alien defined in section 101(a)(15)(B) or (F), if such alien is otherwise entitled to receive a visa, upon receipt of a notice by the consular officer from the Attorney General of the giving of a bond with sufficient surety in such sum and containing such conditions as the consular officer shall prescribe, to insure that at the expiration of the time for which such alien has been admitted by the Attorney General, as provided in section 214(a), or upon failure to maintain the status under which he was admitted, or to maintain any status subsequently acquired under section 248 of the Act, such alien will depart from the United States.

Reference: http://travel.state.gov/visa/frvi/ineligibilities/ineligibilities_1364.html

221(g) in Numbers

Here is a year wise breakdown of 221(g) refusals for non immigrants and the the cases that have been overcome in the last 5 years.

year 221(g) given 221(g) overcome overcome % Ineligible Rejected
2008 589,418 510,549 86.62 1,481,471
2009 616,284 558,895 90.69 1,257,465
2010 694,620 617,155 88.85 1,159,519
2011 837,477 743,524 88.78 1,218,324
2012 806,773 724,217 89.77 1,308,983

Source: Yearly reports Immigrant and Nonimmigrant Visa Ineligibilities

(by Grounds for Refusal Under the Immigration and Nationality Act)

Actually almost twice as many get straight rejections as 221(g) and 9 out of 10 who get 221(g) get cleared. It also shows that if you get 221(g) you are not alone 221(g) is no longer an exception as the number of 221(g) cases have increased every year.

221(g) Changes to Attitudes towards Nonimmigrants

There are a number of reasons why 221(g) is issued but the underlying reason is a mistrust of nonimmigrants. It could be one of the following reasons:

  1. “Immigrants are taking our jobs” has long been the view of some in US but never an official policy. Over the past few years though the DOS has made it difficult to hire nonimmigrants and 221(g) only makes retaining nonimmigrants difficult for companies. Several legal firms (Murthy, Peeraly) have seen this could be the reason why some petitions have been put under 221(g) to discourage companies from getting nonimmigrant work force by delaying the paperwork. Even though no local alternative is available for some of the high tech jobs for which nonimmigrants are primary applicants.
  2. Some of the consulting firms that hired nonimmigrants resorted to unlawful practices that included tax evasion, unfair labor compensation and violating immigration rules. Some universities (Herguan University, Sunnyvale) and several employers (Cybersoft, Venturisoft) were raided and found for visa scam and several other violations. This might have lead consulates issuing more 221(g)s than before. In this case a few companies resorting to unlawful practices are bringing bad reputation for the other companies that abide by laws and need nonimmigrant work force to grow.
  3. Since the formation of DHS several cautionary practices have been employed on nonimmigrants. With added security procedures 221(g) has become common with administrative processing. Muslims have been in particular focus even though 221(g) is given to people of other faith as well.
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85 Responses to 221(g)

  1. Ezzat Elderiny says:

    I have applied to get USA visa again and they give me a white paper as following:

    Proof of adjustment of status in U. S. and any correspondence regarding prior stay in U. S.
    Under the section 221 g .

    I don’t understand what can I do?

  2. Malka says:

    During 221 g can both coupl do marriage , mean if couple do marriage during 221 g refusal in another country can they ?

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