what is 221g, when is it issued and how to handle it ?
what is 221g, when is it issued and how to handle it ?

Basics of 221g

Often after the H1B visa interview, the US official says your application is subject to administrative processing or commonly known as 221 (g). This causes a lot of stress/ agony to the visa applicant. Let’s try to demystify this and get a clear understanding of 221 (g).

What does 221g  mean?

221(g) is given when essential data about an application is missing or that an application has been placed on administrative hold. The consular officer (often referred to as US visa officer) who interviews the individual,  will tell at the end of the interview that it is subject to 221(g) pending further information. If further information is required from the individual, the officer will tell how to submit that information.

As part of this process, you may be given a document that lists what needs to be submitted,  and the applicant will have 12 months to submit the requested documents to the visa consulate.  It is important to note that additional visa application fees need not to be paid for this processing. If a decision cannot arrive within 1 year,  221(g) is terminated.

During this time, the visa office does not provide tracking information which raises anxiety among the applicants.  There is very little an applicant can do to control the speed or the outcome of this process.

When is 221g issued?

A person can be put under 221g, because of several reasons.

Background check

This can happen if the applicant has a name that associates to bad actors around the world, or is working in a highly regulated industry like pharmaceutical,  and their name appears on TAL (Technology Alert List), or name matches someone’s name on TAL.

Employment check

This can happen if the individual is working for a mom and pop consulting company and they want to ensure that the client/project information is accurate; or if they want to verify if the employer maintains control over individual’s activities. Employment check is the most common reason for issuing 221(g).

Can 221g processing be expedited?

The process cannot be expedited. It is a long and grueling wait.

Does 221g processing delay mean a rejection?

This may or may not be true. Unfortunately, administrative processing takes time, and every case is unique and gets processed at a different pace. If passport copies have been requested, then it is a positive sign that visa application is close to approval.

Any alternatives to 221g?

  • You can apply for a different visa category. This can be done if you are eligible for the visa category. By applying for another visa category, you do not need to withdraw your pending 221 (g) application.
  • Apply for same visa category but through another employer.

What happens if the case is rejected or sent to USCIS?

  • Visa office will send the petition to USCIS for re-evaluation with their commentary and research.  
  • Any original documents held by them shall be returned.
  • I – 797 papers shall not be returned, because they are sent to USCIS.
  • USCIS reviews the application and either issue a NOIR (Notice of Intent to Revoke) or NOID (Notice of Intent to Deny).  This review can take 2 – 3 months.
  • The applicant may be given a defined time period to respond to USCIS. Generally, this period is 30 or 60 days.
  • Based on received responses, USCIS makes the final decision whether to issue or deny the visa application
  • If USCIS decides to issue I – 797, your local visa consulate will reach out and request your passport for stamping.
  • In case USCIS denies it, you may or may not hear any information from USCIS or your local visa consulate.
    • During this period if you are in the US, you will be required to leave the country within a defined period of time (most often this period is 30 days).

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