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.
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
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.