What Can be Done

Individual Efforts

At individual level not much can be done when one is stuck under 221(g) or change the current format of 221(g). Here is what can be done and has been previously tried by other candidates in each broader category:

1. Administrative Processing – Not much can be done in this situation. You have to just wait. Hope the agency handling your case resolves your case quickly. Keep contact with the consulate and make inquiries through every channel possible. One of the suggestions that has been made is that people get FBI clearance before appearing for the interview. But that might not reduce the chances of 221(g) since FBI clearance is only part of the administrative processing

2. Further Consulate Review – Complete the questionnaire and submit all the supporting documents as soon as possible. Make sure you do not leave out anything that has been requested since it will delay the process.

3. Employee Employer Relationship(Employer Vendor Client Model) – Resolving this case has more to do with your employer than you. So its important that your employer assists with all the information and documentation requested by USCIS or consulate. There can be a lot of back and forth between USCIS and the consulate about the EVC model thus causing delays. One of the way out of this could be to find a direct employment, doing H1B transfer and reapplying for the visa. In this scenario a few cases have been overcome by applying for H1B by transferring to a different employer. One note of caution would be that if the new case is not strong or still has issues related to employer then the case can again be put under 221(g).

Other Efforts

A number of efforts have been made in the last few years to ease the issues with 221(g).

Facebook 221(g) group:

To raise awareness of 221(g) a group was formed on facebook. This group usually has posts from individuals currently stuck under 221(g) with their interview dates, interview questions and processing times. The groups mission states:

This is a group to bring awareness to everyone about the “Technology Alert List” or the TAL check or the Visa Mantis Check or the the 221 g which is holding back so many foreign students and researchers in their countries after completing degrees from the US.

Congressional Hearing

A congressional hearing took place in 2003 regarding delays in processing of visas. A number of high level individuals from FBI, academic and business communities testified. Here are some details of the hearings:

http://www.aip.org/fyi/2003/056.html

One of the conclusions the committee came to was that the delays were caused by miscommunication between different departments handling the visa processing.

Petition with Department of State

A petition was filed with the department of state with data and highlighting the delays in different cases in 2009. A copy of the petition can be found at:

Nothing much came of the petition.

Homeland Security Forum Idea

An idea was proposed on the DHS forum for ideas in 2010 reading:

…there should be a deadline on when it would be completed. I have read a lot of forums that some people have been waiting for years to get a response. Others are still waiting. During this long waiting period, the petitioner and beneficiary go thru pain and suffering, and the frustration that the US government is not doing enough for them. It is also frustrating to call USCIS and ask for a status, and in return all they tell you “It’s still in Administrative Processing”

Apart from some really sad and depressing stories in comments there is no real response to this idea.

The White House We the People Petition

A petition was filed on the “White House We the People” webpage to do something about the suffering of several individuals stranded on 221(g) in February 2012 with the request:

Speed up immigrant visa cases pending under Section 221(g) at US Embassies after Visa Interview.

https://wwws.whitehouse.gov/petitions/!/petition/why-qualified-working-professionals-are-being-stopped-name-221g-when-they-visit-their-family-abroad/0msdNHvv

The petition failed to get enough support as the number of signatures failed to meet the requirement to clear the first stage.

Message to President Obama

A message was sent to President Obama highlighting the difficulties faced by professionals under 221(g).

Several other lawsuits and petitions have been attempted to change the format of 221(g) and processing times without much result. While any efforts to change it is commendable usually the legal efforts to bring about a change in policy have failed.

Every year more than half a million individuals are put under 221(g) which they finally clear with only 1 in 10 eventually not getting the visa. While in some cases 221(g) is even justifiable the concept of timeless processing is not. Some of the individuals stuck in 221(g) are in crunch times of their career where a year can make or break their future path. To fix the issue with 221(g) the bigger issue of immigration and the perception of immigrants needs to be fixed.

One needs to understand the roots of 221(g). While 221(g) may be even justifiable the long term and the drawn out process which gives the candidate no transparency is not. There is a lot of distrust of the immigrant be it the religious last name or the company he works for. May be a better solution would be a two pronged approach: changing the perception of immigrant workers in public as well as authorities and pursuing strong legal course rather than a bunch of weak ones.

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