221g Explained: Meaning and Reasons for Refusal

Updated on April 10, 2024

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 US must attend a visa interview at a US embassy or consulate. During this interview, your documents and reasons for visiting are reviewed.

After reviewing, foreign service officers decide on your visa approval. Sometimes, they might issue a 221g, which isn’t a rejection or approval but a request for more information about your application.

What Does 221g Mean?

221g refers to the section of the United States Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) that allows consular officers to temporarily delay or withhold visa issuance. This is typically due to the need for additional documents or further administrative processing.

What is a 221g refusal?

A refusal under section 221(g) indicates an application is either missing essential information or needs more administrative processing. At the end of your interview, the consular officer will inform you if you’re refused under 221(g) and specify whether your case requires further processing or more details.

If they ask for additional data, they’ll guide you on how to provide it. Upon a 221(g) refusal, you’ll receive a formal notification and have 12 months to submit the necessary documents without reapplying or incurring a new fee. Failure to provide the required documents within this timeframe may result in application termination as per section 203(g) of the Immigration and Nationality Act.

For any documents the Embassy or Consulate asks for, ensure you submit them at the designated LBC document collection office. Remember, all submissions must be accompanied by the appropriate document submission form, available for download online.

Additional Details

Visa applications can be deferred under section 221(g) if they need more administrative processing. At your interview’s conclusion, the consular officer will inform you if your application falls under 221(g) due to this reason. The time taken for this additional processing can differ based on the specifics of each case. Unless there’s an urgent need, like critical health issues or death in the immediate family, applicants should wait a minimum of 180 days post-interview or after providing any additional documents to inquire about their processing status.

What Happens When a 221g is Denied?

Following your immigrant visa interview, some applicants face a hold under section 221(G) of the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Act. This typically arises when applicants haven’t presented all essential documents or the consular officer needs further details. Don’t fret! Our team at the U.S. Embassy simplifies this for you. We offer a clear guide highlighting the required documents or details you need to provide to progress in the visa process. Best of all, there’s usually no need for a new appointment! Just submit the necessary documents at the Visa Attention Center in Galeria 360 or any Mailboxes Etc. branch. Ensure you provide every document requested to avoid further delays in your application’s assessment.

10 Reasons Why Your 221g May Have Been Refused

Here are some common reasons why a visa applicant might receive a 221(g) refusal:

1. Incomplete Application or Documentation

If the consular officer believes the applicant hasn’t provided all the required documents or information, a 221(g) can be issued to request the missing items.

2. Administrative Processing

Sometimes, the U.S. consulate needs to conduct further background checks or other administrative reviews. This might be due to the applicant’s field of study, work, travel history, or other factors.

3. Ineligibility or Inadmissibility

If the consular officer believes the applicant might be ineligible for a visa due to criminal history, immigration violations, or other reasons, they might issue a 221(g) while they verify the applicant’s status or eligibility.

4. Suspicion of Misrepresentation

If there’s any doubt about the authenticity of the documents provided or if there’s suspicion that the applicant provided false information, a 221(g) can be issued.

5. Medical Reasons

If the consular officer believes that the applicant might have a medical condition that could render them inadmissible, a 221(g) might be issued asking for further medical tests or certificates.

6. Pending Petition

For certain visa categories, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) must approve a petition before a visa can be issued. If the consular officer is waiting for this approval or documentation, they might issue a 221(g).

7. Employment Verification

For employment-based visas, the consulate might want to verify employment details or other relevant information with the employer.

8. Photo or Fingerprint Issues

Technical issues or discrepancies with photographs or fingerprints can also lead to a 221(g) issuance.

9. Doubts About Intent or Qualifications

For nonimmigrant visas, if the officer has doubts about the applicant’s intent to return to their home country or their qualifications for the visa, they might issue a 221(g) while seeking additional information.

10. Security or Policy Concerns

In some instances, due to evolving U.S. security and foreign policy considerations, certain nationalities, professions, or individuals might be subject to extended scrutiny.

It’s important to note that when a 221(g) is issued, the consular officer should provide the applicant with an explanation or a checklist indicating the reason and any additional requirements. Applicants should carefully follow any instructions provided, and they can check the status of their visa application online or with the U.S. consulate or embassy where they applied.

What Happens After a 221g Refusal?

Upon receiving a 221g from the Department of State, you’ll be provided a slip with a unique case number related to your stamping. This number typically begins with the interview year, followed by your designated case number.

Your next steps involve submitting the necessary documents to further your visa application. You can choose to do this electronically or via the VFS Dropbox.

The slip you receive will clearly indicate the required documents and the submission location, simplifying the process for you.

After submitting all necessary documents, you’ll need to await the decision on your visa application. If approved, the consulate will request your passport to affix the visa stamp. If not, they will return all your original documents.

221g Administrative Maximum Processing 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.

Tracking Your 221g Status: 5 Methods

Before you follow up on your 221g status, it’s advised to wait a minimum of 60 days. Here are several methods to ascertain your application’s progress:

1. Visit the VFS Website

Begin by checking the consulate’s website. Some consulates offer electronic tracking where you can monitor your passport or case status. However, this feature is not universally available across all consulates.

2. Reach Out to the Consulate

Consider phoning the consulate to inquire about your application’s status. While they might not divulge detailed information, it’s an avenue to try.

3. Drop an Email

Navigate to the consulate’s website and draft an email requesting an update. Remember, similar to calling, you may not receive comprehensive details regarding your status.

4. Engage with the DOS

Contacting the Department of State (DOS) in Washington DC could offer additional insights. However, given DC’s bustling nature, interactions might be concise, possibly offering limited details. The DOS homepage provides their contact information.

5. Liaise with Your Senator

For those working in the U.S., reaching out to your senator could be an option, especially if your application has surpassed the 60-day mark. Given their hectic schedules, ensure you’ve crossed the 60-day threshold before contacting.

Though these methods don’t guarantee specific information or an expedited process, seeking clarity after an extended period can provide some peace of mind regarding your 221g status.

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 to Do After 221g Rejection

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.

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.

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Final thoughts on 221g

Navigating this process can be intricate and drawn-out, often leading to applicant frustration. We hope this article has clarified the stages and provided guidance for your waiting period.

While it’s challenging, it’s crucial to remain patient. Constantly contacting the Department of State or your consulate won’t expedite matters and might even adversely affect your application. It’s best to stay composed and wait for your response.

221g Refusal FAQ

What steps should I take after receiving a 221g refusal?

After a 221g refusal, you should follow the instructions provided in the refusal letter, which typically involves submitting additional documents or information.

Can a 221g be denied?

Yes, after the additional review and processing, a visa application under 221g can still be denied.

What does “Notice of 221g refusal – further review needed” mean?

This notice indicates that the consulate needs more time to review your application, either due to missing information or other concerns that require additional processing.

What is the outcome if my visa status is marked as “refused” post-administrative processing?

If your visa status shows “refused” after administrative processing, it means that your visa application has been denied.

How much time is typically needed to resolve a 221g refusal?

The resolution time for a 221g refusal varies. While some cases are resolved within weeks, others can take several months. The exact duration depends on the nature and complexity of the required review.

What is the typical success rate for visas under 221g?

The success rate of 221g visas depends on individual circumstances, the consulate’s guidelines, and the nature of the additional information or review required. There isn’t a fixed rate, as outcomes differ on a case-by-case basis.

How can I overcome a 221g refusal?

To overcome a 221g refusal, ensure you provide all the requested documents and information promptly. Complying with the consulate’s requests and ensuring completeness and accuracy can increase your chances of approval.

Is it possible to reapply after a 221g refusal?

Yes, you can reapply for a visa after a 221g refusal. However, it’s advisable to understand the reasons for the initial refusal and address those issues before reapplying.

What does a visa status marked as “refused” signify?

When a visa status is marked as “refused”, it indicates that the visa application has been denied by the consulate or embassy.

What should I do if I’ve been given a 221g and asked to submit my passport?

If you’re asked to submit your passport after a 221g, it generally means the consulate is considering issuing a visa after some final checks. Follow their instructions and submit your passport as advised.

My visa status says “refused.” What does that mean?

A visa status of “refused” indicates your visa application was reviewed and subsequently denied by the consulate or embassy. This could be for various reasons, including missing documentation or failure to meet specific requirements.

What does it mean if my passport is returned without a stamp after a 221g?

If your passport is returned without a visa stamp after a 221g, it likely means the consulate needs more time for your application’s evaluation or is awaiting further documentation from you. It’s essential to await further instructions and provide any documents if requested.

How is INA 221g different from 221g?

INA 221g pertains to the specific section of the Immigration and Nationality Act allowing for further scrutiny or additional documentation for certain visa applications. In essence, they refer to the same provision, but INA signifies the context within the U.S. immigration law.

How long is the 221g White Slip processing time?

The processing time for a 221g White Slip can vary. Some applications are resolved within weeks, while others might take several months. This depends on the nature of the administrative checks required.

What is a 221g Tracker?

The 221g Tracker is a tool or forum where individuals can share and monitor their 221g case status. It offers a platform for insights from others experiencing similar visa processing delays.

What should H1B visa applicants know about 221g?

221g for H1B visa applicants often indicates that additional documentation is needed to verify information about the applicant’s job, employer, or other specifics. It’s crucial to respond promptly with the necessary details.

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Frank Gogol

I’m a firm believer that information is the key to financial freedom. On the Stilt Blog, I write about the complex topics — like finance, immigration, and technology — to help immigrants make the most of their lives in the U.S. Our content and brand have been featured in Forbes, TechCrunch, VentureBeat, and more.

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