3 Reasons Your 221g Was Refused

Posted by in Immigrants | Updated on August 10, 2023
At a Glance: A 221g refusal is a visa refusal under section 221g of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), indicating that additional information or processing time is needed for the application. It does not necessarily mean a complete denial. Reasons for a 221g refusal include background checks, employment verification, or incomplete information. After receiving a 221g, the applicant must submit the required documents and wait for the visa decision. The processing time for a 221g can vary, typically taking around 3-4 weeks but possibly extending to several months. There are options to follow up on the process and explore alternatives if the visa is denied.

People planning to visit the United States usually have to undergo a visa interview process before they are allowed to enter the country. The interview process takes place at a US embassy or consulate in your home country or the country you are currently in.

During the interview, all your documents and information will be reviewed and you will be questioned about the reasons you are traveling to the United States.

Once the foreign service officers have checked all your documents, they decide whether your visa will be approved or rejected. In other cases, you might be issued a 221g, which is the request for additional information to verify your case.

If you are issued a 221g, you are neither rejected nor accepted for getting a visa to enter the United States. A 221g just places you on hold to request additional information from you about your visa process.

What is a 221g refusal?

A visa refusal under section 221g of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) means that information is missing from your application or that more processing time is needed.

Although the word “refusal” might bring anxiety to most trudging along through their visa journey, it really only means that the consulate or embassy you are conducting your interview with needs more information to handle your case.

3 big reasons why a 221g refusal may be issued

There are three primary reasons why the visa officer at the embassy or consulate will issue you a 221g refusal:

1. Background check

If you come from another religion or work in an industry which is on the technology alert list (TAL), you might be put under review by the consulate.

Industries in the TAL include people working in engineering, pharma, or biotech. If this is the case for you, you might have to go through extra background checks on your family or employment history.

2. Employment check

The United States will usually do an extra employment check if you work in a consultancy that is hard to define. This extra check is to dig in a little deeper to what exact work and projects you are currently working on.


A PIMS is a client/server application that applicants need to fill out. You will be issued a 221g if you haven’t updated this information yet. In this case, the 221g simply puts your visa processing on hold until all information has been updated.

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What happens after a 221g refusal?

Now that the Department of State has issued you a 221g, they will issue you a slip with an assigned case number to your stamping. Usually, the case number starts with the year your interview took place and is followed by your assigned case number.

Depending on your case, you will have to submit the respective documents needed to get through your visa application process. You will have the option to submit your documents electronically or at the VFS Dropbox.

Don’t worry so much about the logistics of this part—all the information about the documents and where you have to submit them will be stated on your slip.

Once you have submitted all the required supporting documents, it is time to wait to see if your visa will be approved or not.

If the consulate decides to issue you the visa, they will ask for your passport so that they can officially stamp the visa. In the unfortunate case your visa gets rejected, the consulate will return all original documents to you.

221g administrative processing maximum time

The 221g administrative processing maximum time varies based on a variety of factors, including if additional information is requested, what additional documents are requested, where you are located, and more.

In most cases, 221g administrative processing will be completed within 60 days—typically around 3-4 weeks. In some instances, however, some 221g processing times can take many months or even over a year.

Note that you will likely be asked not to inquire about your case for at least 180 days.

What does the revocation and reevaluation process involve?

As mentioned, petitions can be refused for a variety of reasons. For example, a consular officer may find issues in your background – your approval may be a result of misrepresentation, fraud, or other means that are against the law. In this case, the officer has the right to reject the visa that was claimed under the 221g provision.

However, this rejection does not automatically mean that everything is over. Once the interview is over, the case will be returned to the USCIS so that the decision can be reconsidered. The result can end in two different ways: the approved petition can either be revoked, or it can be proved lawful – meaning that the individual will get their visa.

This revocation process can be rather burdensome and lengthy. The 221g processing time can take a few months, and in the more unfortunate cases, it can take as much as a few years. In most cases, neither the applicant nor the employer is willing to wait that long. Most applicants would look for other employers, just as most employers would start looking for new employees.

221g refusal administrative process

If the petition is returned and both parties decide to go through the process, here are the steps that are generally followed:

The US consulate will review the returned petition, and the fraud management will enter it into the fraud database. The 221g processing time may take up to three months until the NVC receives the diplomatic pouch to review the petition again.

1. NVC Petition Review

The NVC will review the petition and send it back to the USCIS service center. This process may also take up to one month.

2. Service Center Petition Review

The service center will review the petition, and the consular officer will begin making notes on the case. Bear in mind that returned applications are of a lower priority compared to new ones. This means that their revision might take quite some time after the new petitions have been resolved.

3. Notice of Intent to Deny

The USCIS service center will either give a NOID (Notice of Intent to Deny) or a NOID (Notice of Intent to Revoke), depending on the observations of the consular officer. A notice will be sent to the one who signed the petition.

4. Right to Respond

Depending on the answer given by the service center, the petitioner has the right to respond with no evidence within 30 to 60 days. Once the new evidence has been addressed, it will be decided whether the original petition will be reaffirmed or denied. An official letter with the result will be issued.

5. New Evidence

If the petition has been reaffirmed, the center will send the petition along with the new evidence to the consulate—including the recommendation for issuing a US visa.

6. Interview Date Issued

The beneficiary will be informed by the consulate about the interview date. The procedure may vary, depending on the consulate.

7. The Visa is Issued or Denied

The consular officer in charge of conducting the interview of the petitioner will either issue the visa or issue a visa refusal via section 221g. If the petition is once more denied, it will go back to the USCIS along with a revocation recommendation – and the process will start once again.

Most of the administrative processes should be resolved in 60 days, at most. However, depending on the complexity of your case, the 221g processing time may take longer.

5 ways to follow up on your 221g

There are several ways to follow up on your process, but you should wait a minimum of at least 60 days before making any inquiries. Below, we list several ways you can go about to find out where you stand on your 221g process:

1. Check out the VFS website

The first option you have is to check out the website of the consulate and track your passport or case number electronically. Please note that only some consulates offer electronic tracking and that not every consulate offers this service.

2. Call the consulate

If you want, you can simply give the consulate a call to find out where your paperwork lies in the process. Keep in mind that they probably won’t be able to give you specific details on the case – but it’s worth a shot to try!

3. Send an email

Check out the website of the consulate and simply send them an email requesting more information. Please also note that – like with calling- you are not guaranteed extra information on where you are at in your process.

4. Call or send an email to the DOS

The DOS or the Department of State in Washington DC might be able to give you a bit more information. DC is a busy place, however, so the conversation will most likely be very short and might leave you with little to no extra information as well.

If you decide to call the DOS, you can get their contact information at the DOS homepage.

5. Contact your Senator

If you already work in the United States you might be able to email or call your senator. Please only do this if your process has been pending for more than 60 days. Senators are also extremely busy so try not to bother them if you have not reached the 60-day mark.

There is no guarantee you will get information, or that getting in contact with the right representatives will expedite the 221g process. However, if a long time has passed, it might put you at ease to find out more information about your case.

Does a longer processing time automatically mean rejection?

A longer 221g process does not mean you will get rejected from getting a visa in the United States. Some cases just take more administrative work than others do because of the complexities of a certain case.

Once you have been asked to submit your passport, however, it is a good sign that you are on your way to getting an approved visa. Do not stress if you have not been asked for your passport because it just might take longer for them to ask for it for your unique case.

I know it is hard but try to relax and to stay calm because administrative processing always takes a long time.

What are other ways to get a visa in the United States?

Unfortunately, there are not many alternatives to getting a visa once you receive a visa denial. These are your primary two options:

1. Different visa category

You could try to apply to a different visa category than the one you are currently in now. You can do this without having to withdraw your current pending 221g process so that you do not have to go through the entire visa process again. However, it is important that you are eligible for the new visa category.

2. Same visa, different employer

The second option you have is to apply for the same visa category but with a different employer. Like in the first option, in this case, you do not need to withdraw your current 221g petition, however, you do need to go through the whole visa process again, including doing another interview.

What do I do after my 221g petition gets rejected?

In case your 221g petition gets rejected, the consulate will send your petition back to the USCIS and all your original documents will be returned to you—except for the 797, which will be sent to the USCIS. This document will be sent to the USCIS with comments so they can reconsider your petition.

Once the USCIS has received all relevant documents, they will send you a notice of receipt to notify you that they will start the second evaluation process.

This second period of evaluation normally takes between two and three months, which by the end of, you will either be issued a Notice of Intent to Revoke NOIR, or a Notice of Intent to Deny, NOID.

Depending on their answer, your petition will be reinstated or denied. If they reinstate it, they will send all relevant documents to the consulate and ask you to make another appearance there as well to continue the visa process.

Final thoughts on 221g

Alas, this is a very complicated process that can take very long and frustrate many hopeful applicants. We hope this article has helped you to understand the entire process better so that you are aware of what’s going on at each stage and what you can do while you wait for your answer.

We know it’s hard, but we recommend you to stay calm and simply wait until you get your response. You can not change anything if you call a hundred times a day or send a thousand emails to the Department of State and your consulate.

You might actually hurt your case if you decide to show so much impetuousness so we recommend that you relax and stay calm.

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Rohit Mittal

Rohit Mittal is the co-founder and CEO of Stilt. Rohit has extensive experience in credit risk analytics and data science. He spent years building credit risk and fraud models for top U.S. banks. In his current role, he defines the overall business strategy, leads debt and capital fundraising efforts, leads product development, and leads other customer-related aspects for the company. Stilt is backed by Y Combinator and has raised a total of $275M in debt and equity funding to date.