My Visa Was Denied Under Section 221(g) Administrative Processing – What Are My Chances Of Being Approved?

Getting an immigration visa application denied can be very stressful but it usually doesn’t mean that your out-of-luck when it comes to immigrating to the United States. There is a large group of applicants that seem to be automatically placed in administrative processing based on the country they are applying from.

There are many reasons that your visa was denied under section 221(g) and you will likely receive a letter from USCIS letting you know what documents they require to continue processing your case.

The reason for this discrimination is a higher prevalence of immigration fraud from specific high fraud countries. It could also be a universal policy follow by come US embassies to discourage visa fraud.

Simple ways to avoid administrative processing (AP):

  • proving lots of supporting evidence for your visa case
  • having a clean background and criminal check
  • being honest on all the forms that you fill out

Administrative processing can mean the following:

  • Addition review of your documents/case
  • FBI name and background check
  • Criminal background check
  • Suspicion of immigration fraud
  • Review of prior visa applications and overstays
  • Review of previous visa denials

Any “hit” on a particular database will mean your case will be put into administrative processing. A “hit” can be as simple as having a common name that gets flagged and USCIS will need to review them one by one.

Let’s go into some scenarios to help you understand why you may have been placed in AP and what to do about it.

Sponsoring My Wife From India and Placed in Administrative Processing

In most cases, sponsoring an immediate relative is straightforward and are approved quickly without delay. However, in some countries where immigration fraud is higher, the US embassy will likely need further review of the case.

Sanjeet filed for his Indian wife who he married just a few short months prior. He put together the I-130 petition on his own and provide a lot of evidence of their relationship. They were quickly approved the petition and thier case was forwarded to the national visa center (NVC) where they sent his wife forms to be filled out. They paid the visa fee and were scheduled for an interview.

Unfortunately, Sanjeet couldn’t attend the interview and his wife wen to the interview herself. She was asked questions about their relationship, Sanjeet’s job as well as what was on the I-130 petition. His wife answered all the questions appropriately but the result of the interview was the 221(g) letter stating that the case is in administrative processing for further review.

In the above case study, they did everything right and were completely surprised that their case was placed in administrative processing. Remember how I explained that administrative processing could be a number of different things and you really don’t know which bucket your in?

I believe that they were placed in AP because the embassy still isn’t sure if the marriage is genuine. By the time the interview comes around, all the background checks should have been done. Sometimes the embassy officer can’t make a decision right then and there and look to a supervisor to review the case.

The last time I talked to the couple, Sanjeet had many another month long trip to see his wife but they were still stuck in AP for 2 months now.

Lack of Documentation:

One of the most common reasons for being placed in AP is due to lack of sufficient documentation. If you are applying for a K1 fiance visa you will need to provide evidence of an ongoing relationship. This can include emails, chat logs, phone calls, letters and so on.

For the CR1 spouse visa, it is a little different because you will have a burden of proof that is more difficult. You will be required to show a bona fide marriage which can include wedding photos, trips together, phone records, affidavits from friends and family etc.

Incorrect Information on Application:

This is a simple thing to correct if you made a mistake on the application. However, if you intentionally give incorrect information you may be deemed inadmissible under immigration law.  I always tell people to always tell the truth even if you fear that your visa will be denied. The truth always seems to come out in the end so it is better to be honest then be barred from entering the US.

If the adjudicator has found a mistake, they normally send a request for evidence (RFE) if the interview hasn’t been scheduled. To resolve this issue, you should provide the correct information in writing or send new corrected documents. If the adjudicator does not notice the error until after the interview, you will probably be placed in administrative processing for them to review and have you correct the mistake.

Administrative Processing (221g) After Interview

During your interview, the consulate officer may have asked you specific questions about your sponsor trying to fish out any suspicious applicants. If your interview went well and you were able to answer all the questions accurately and without hesitation then the administrative processing should be temporary and your visa will be issued shortly.

If you were placed on administrative processing but your passport was kept by the consulate, this is great news! This usually is the simplest and quickest way out of the administrative processing black hole. Not all cases that are placed in AP mean that the interviewer was suspicious of your relationship, sometimes it could just mean that they need to run additional background checks.

administrative processing

I Was Not Given A Reason For Administrative Processing, Was I Permanently Denied A Visa?

Sometimes after your interview you are given the 221(g) form for administrative processing but are not told why and never asked to provide more information. This situation is a little more complicated because it will now be a waiting game and it can sometimes take upwards of 1 year to complete.

There is high chance that you will be placed on administrative processing if you are applying from certain countries. This is an unfortunate policy that many embassies abroad have to reduce the amount of marriage fraud that takes place there. But it also punishes couples who have real marriages and just want to be together.

If you and your spouse are placed in AP for any length of time, you have to stay strong. It will eventually come to an end and a good amount of these are cases are ultimately approved. The waiting time is no fun and it is even worse when you are not given a timeline, but you have no choice but to wait it out and continue to spend time with each other.

Possible High Red Flag Countries

  • Nigeria
  • India
  • Ghana
  • Morocco
  • Yemen
  • Kenya
  • Pakistan
  • Philippines
  • China

This is not a complete list but in general developing countries appear to be labeled “high fraud” and are scrutinized more aggressively. This is due to the difference in living standards which can give immigrants and incentive to commit immigration fraud. Of course, wanting a better life isn’t illegal but not following the immigration process will probably get you placed in AP or worse, denied a visa.

If the consulate states that they are returning your application back to the USCIS in the United States, this can take about 6 to 8 months to hear back from them about what is going on with your case. Keep calling them monthly to find out as much as you can and do not let your case fall through the cracks.

Do You Have Any Red Flags About Your Relationship That Could Cause USCIS Scrutiny?

.Some red flags that the USCIS may concentrate on are the following:

  • Fast Courtship
  • Married after first visit
  • Only had one visit
  • Short Visit (less than 21 days)
  • Different race
  • Different religion
  • Divorced with children from other relationships
  • Beneficiary petitioned before on a K-1 or IR1/CR1 by someone else

In the end, what is important is that you do not give up on your relationship. If you have been placed on administrative processing after filing for the K1 visa, it is best to get married to your US citizen sponsor and then file for the IR1/CR1 spousal visa instead. Sometimes it is easier for some applicants to get approved for a CR1 visa in certain countries, check out the K1 visa VS CR1 visa: which is faster article for the differences in approval timeline.


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37 Comments on "My Visa Was Denied Under Section 221(g) Administrative Processing – What Are My Chances Of Being Approved?"

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Hi Ayan. Thanks for helping immigrant people. A few days ago I gave my immigration interview. The consular took my passport but gave me 221g. I was in usa for a long time and most of the time with student visa. At the end of my course, I tried to extend my student visa but USCIS denied it and gave a letter to leave US as soon as possible. But I appealed against the decision but my appeal rejected. So when I left US, it casued me overstayed more than six month. But during my interview, the consular asked me.… Read more »

Hi Ayan
i had my interview in mumbai embassy for fiancee visa and i was almost interrogated for 2 hours by an indian counsellor. I had given most of answer with confidence and no nervousness though i was told my case will be sent back to uscis but after almost a month my case is still at embassy and theres no status update on ceac. its been showing ready for interview as it showed right after case creation…..

Erin Espinoza
Hello, thanks for a good, informative website. I am us citizen and my husband is from Nicaragua. He EWI and has been here for over 10 years, we got married and obtained an attorney here in states and filed and were ultimately approved for 601 A waiver. He went for interview 2 weeks ago, they asked for copy of MY passport and an updated Nicaraguan police report, we obtained and they have had for a week. I checked status today and it says “administrative processing “. From reading your website I am praying it’s just due to paperwork?? They did… Read more »
hello my name is marie & i applied for the k1 visa initially it got approved in the us but as we all do my fiance had to go to the interview.. i went with him the counselor asked him about 4 questions.. she looked at our pictures & also my babys sonogram since i am 3 months pregnant i decided to come here and help him with the process and boom i ended up expecting .. now the lady gave him a white form 221g no extra documents were needed she said something about invisitigating him.. she stayed with… Read more »

My spouse had an interview last month in Montreal but his visa held on AP due to not having PCC on his passport. He submitted his all required documents along with a copy of his passport PCC three weeks . We just curious how long it will take more? Because his Canadian visa is going to expire within two months. Is there any way to expedite this request?


Hi this is roopa
I attended to my visa interview on 05 Jan in this year for f1 visa.they ask my loan documents and i20 and my passport.they give me white221g form by clicking on your application required for there information before final decision can be made.
Know it is 10 Jan my college will start at 17jan.still there is no status update. am very much frastated on this situation.every one skold me .??????
Pls mam pls give advice to me about the situation.all my documents are true.



if the USCIS approved the k1 visa can the consulate in Lebanon denied and any specific reason for that

Janet Tambe
My fiance was denied a visa today under section 221g. The file will be sent back to the Département of homeland security with recommendations to cancel the application. We failed to mention in the application that he had been married and was now a widow. We chose “single.” At his interview he was asked sbout this, and he provided her death certificate.They say the department of homeland security will contact me to tell me why he did not get a visa. What are our options? They haven’t contacted me yet, but I think that is what the problem is.
Hi ayan three week ago i had my immigration cr1 visa interview visa office asked me lot of questions about my wife past divorces and information about her past husbands i dont know her past husbands i just know she had 3 time divorce and i dont have any information about her past husbands end she was asking a name of lady she was my brother in low ex wife and asking you know her she is your wife cousins i dont have any information about her i was listen first time her name i dont know about that end… Read more »
Mahavir Singh Thakur
Hello Sir, The Ceac Status is: Case Created: 22/08/2017. Case Updated: 23/08/2017. Case Updated: 24/08/2017. And till today the dates are same and the status showing administrative process. I am in Merchant Navy and I applied for C1/D Visa at Mumbai Consulate. I went for biometrics on 22/08/2017 and for Consular interview on 23/08/2017 in Mumbai BKC. On 23rd during my interview consular asked for my passport and after that she told me, “you visited Iran” I have mentioned this on DS160 that I have visited Iran. Second question was “have you ever been given shore leave” i said yes… Read more »
In year 2012 when I went to US Consulate in Chennai, India for H1B stamping I got 221g slip asking more details about employer. I submitted all the required details and after 10 months I got a letter from consulate saying that I have failed to present documents required in connection with visa application and the petition is being returned to USCIS for review with the recommendation to be revoked and if the USCIS revoke the petition the beneficiary may become ineligible for a visa under 212(a)6(c)(i). After 2 months I saw petition status in USCIS website that “Revocation Notice… Read more »

Hi Ayan, Thanks for the helpful information in this page. My wife gone through H4 visa interview in India on 10/3/17. I am on H1B visa and got already stamped. H4 visa status in administrative processing now. Visa officer didn’t mention about visa approval and didn’t gave any kind of notice/letter. Is it possible not get any notice in case of administrative processing? Is it normal scenario. Please help.



Hi Ayan, I had my interview this year August and was refused under 221g and was asked to provide additional documents. I submitted the document after 3 weeks along with passport but after 5 days only the passport was returned with letter stating my case is refused under 221g and wait for Administrative processing to finish.In the CEAC the status is showing AP currently. Does it mean my case is refused forever or do i have any chances in AP.?Please advice and what is the next step should i take. We are in a very stressful condition.


Hi Ayan. Thanks you very much for the prompt response.I am applying for CR1 Spouse Immigration visa.I have already submitted document mentioned under 221g along with passport after 3 weeks of my interview.Only my passport is returned with letter mentioning “Your case has been refused under 221g of Immigration and Nationality Act.Please bear with us while your case goes under AP.” So i am wondering whether it means complete denial or not ? Please advise if any steps that i need to take or simply wait till 60 days to complete.

I am a experienced traveler Previously I been US, Canada, UK and Europe, including twice I have 10-Years multiple visa of B1B2 USA and it’s expired in June 2017, so after expiry on November 27, 2017 I applied for renewal of my visa along with my and minor daughter’s fresh visa applications. After a long interview visa officer informed us that our visa is refused but technically our visa applications are in pending and supinely she kept our original passports, and tells me to wait for outcome with 2 days, meanwhile she give me my payment slip and an 214(b)… Read more »

hi ayan. thanks for your kindness. i am sorry i mistyped my application refused under 221g. but they didn’t write any thing one this white slip. also they kept my this good sign. do you think they will approved my visa in few days.

Hello Ayan. I’m applying for J1 visa for a period of 6 months as an exchange student. I had been to the Chennai Consulate on 30th of November for the interview, which went pretty well. She later took my passport, DS 2019, Acceptance letter that I got from the university and my resume. She handed over the 221-G blue slip and asked me to wait for a few days. Its almost been two weeks now and there has been absolutely no change on the online visa tracking page. The date on case last updated is the same as the interview… Read more »

Hi Ayan

In continuation to my previous post , it been more than 2 months that my case is showing under administrative Process. The last status update was on 25th Oct. I contact NVC helpline and they said it is under AP and have to wait.Can you please advice what shall i do


Hi Ayan
It already more than 2 months my case status is showing AP. The last status was updated on 25th Oct. I have already submitted all the required documents before two months back.Can you please advice what should i do ?


Hi Ayan.

My wife and son(3 months old) applied for H4 visa thru Drop box. My wife visa got approved but for son receive 221g Blue slip it says “ You must appear for an Interview with parents with a consular office on any working day”. I am in United states and they are in India. Please let me know what are our options. Can she go alone with my son for interview or I need to travel ? I am not sure why they issue 221g in this case all documents where provided

Thank you for help!