It is important to follow up with the embassy and gather as much information as possible about what steps need to be taken in order to resolve the case.
Immediately After Getting 221(g)
It is good to ask as the officer as soon as the 221(g) letter is handed out about the nature of the 221(g) given and what next steps need to be taken to overcome it. This might lead the officer handing you out a questionnaire or a supporting documents submission form immediately rather than through mail that way saving some processing time.
The following could be the next series of steps to be taken in no particular order depending on your individual case
- Inform your employer, client and the concerning manager/supervisor about your situation and that they may be contacted about your case as well as the interview questions (related to them) that were asked. This way are ready and do not give conflicting responses to the same question.
- Contact the immigration attorney who had filed your case and discuss your situation and the possible responses
- Contact consulate to find out about your case ID or diplomatic pouch number
- If any documents or information has been submitted confirm with consulate that they have been recieve
First 60 days
If the consulate has given you a questionnaire complete it as soon as possible and return it. If any supporting documents are requested try to submit then within the first few days to reduce the processing time and to clear the 221(g) sooner.
Since the consulate claims that the average time to handle a case is 60 working days not much can be done during this time period. One can check the status by calling the DOS helpline (202) 663-1225 and following up with options 1 and 0 to get to the operator. You will need your passport number and date of birth. One can also check their case on the website : Check Status
The DOS website gives details on Case Creation Date:
Status Updated Date:
EVC/EC Model: Since the case is with USCIS applicants under 221(g) can check the status of their case with National Customer Service Center 1 (800) 375-5283 or the USCIS website with their case number https://egov.uscis.gov/cris/Dashboard/CaseStatus.do
Other visa categories can check their status using the following options:
- B-1 Visa: 202-663-3198 or firstname.lastname@example.org
- F-1, J-1 or J-1 Visa: email@example.com
- Immigrant Visa (National Visa Center, see #19 above): 603-334-0700
- Diversity Visa (Kentucky Consular Center): 606-526-7500
After 3 Months
If the case has taken more than three months (more than 60 working days) and the case still shows pending administrative processing on the DOS website shoot an email to the embassy to inquire about the status of the case. Usually a response would state some cases
take longer than the average 60 days. It might be a good idea to have the attorney or legal firm who filed your visa to contact USCIS or department of state about the status of the case. Even though usually they get the same response with only some additional details about the nature of the case it might help as the response would be from a legal team in DOS. Also in cases where the case is waiting for additional information or documentation the legal team might be able to provide that to the processing agency.
It might also be helpful if your employer can contact the consulate with a strong supporting letter highlighting the importance of your work and how badly the company needs you back in US.
After 6 Months
Some cases take longer than 6 months. In this case it becomes difficult as the usual generic responses do not provide much insight on what is causing the delay in the case. One of the methods to inquire about your case at this point is to have a congressman or senator of the district you work in contact the DOS about your case. The information on senators and congressman with their serving areas can be found in the links attached.
Usually the easiest method to contact them is email them. The representatives also have office phone numbers and one of the secretaries can guide you further but usually they will still need to understand the case so an email can provide them the details. The representatives office will ask you to sign a waiver to find information for you. Also give them details of your case and how your inability to travel impacts your employer.
Sometimes the representatives office takes a long time to respond in which case try calling them. Also once the representatives office picks up your case they will provide you with the status of your case at an official level. Request the representatives office for further details on your case and reason for delays.
Another possible method of finding information is filing a request with Department of State or USCIS under the Freedom of Information Act asking them to provide consular notes on the case, that way actual reasons of 221(g) can be found and may be a way out can be found.
After 1 year
This happens in very rare cases. But if your case has crossed one year and the inquiries from the legal team or the representatives office have not yielded much it is possible to file a petition against DOS for expediting your case and getting a conclusion. This is known as “Writ of Mandamus”. The writ needs to be filed in the state the applicant is employed by a licensed attorney. It might be a good idea to have your employer file it as it will have a higher likelihood of getting accepted by the judicial system. Once the judge accepts your case the DOS has 60 days to respond. Usually this will lead to expediting the case to resolve in 60 days. Not all cases will be accepted though so get legal advice before proceeding this route. Most of the EVC companies hesitate to file for Writ of Mandamus because it could bring them into spotlight and may even lead to investigations related to the case. In general after 1 year an EVC model applicant can also consider changing the employer and reapplying for the H1B.
Employment while on 221(g)
One of the most difficult things for the applicant when on 221(g) is the individual is stuck in limbo with little to no information on the resolution. If you are a student it might help to postpone your reporting semester and delay the semester you start if no assistant-ship or scholarships are involved but with jobs it is much more difficult situation. With the current economy jobs are difficult to find and retention is not easy either.
Try to accommodate the employer as much as possible. This might involve using up your vacation and holidays. Some companies allow unpaid leave that way you can buy some time till the 221(g) comes to a conclusion. If possible support the employer remotely and convince them that you can manage your job remotely. Some companies have branches in your home country. It is possible work at the branch and maintain the job while you are waiting. I worked from two different cities while i was waiting for the visa in my home country. Some employers have Canadian branches and might prefer their employees to work from their. Usually Canadian work visa requires labor opinion but it is possible to get a GETS Canadian work visa for a short term (less than 6 months) assignment very easily without a labor opinion. This way one can work from Canada for a few months but keep in mind the processing of Canadian visa takes a few days (20 days in India). But there is not one solution that works for all. Some companies may prefer one method over another so be just be accommodating.
Another thing to keep in mind is expiring H1B. If the H1B petition with a particular employer expires while the applicant is in 221(g) the consulate will not issue the H1B even after 221(g) is cleared until a new petition is filed for a renewal. Some employers can be hesitant of investing in a employee because of the existing 221(g) which means the employee is stuck in a circular argument (clear 221g we will file visa, file the visa we will clear 221g). So it might be helpful to appear for the interview a year before the expiry of H1B petition.