The Beast called 221g – Process and FAQs

In Immigration| Visas by Saurabh1366 Comments

Any person planning to travel to US has to go through an interview process at the US embassy/consulate, and as part of the interview process, the officer reviews all the submitted document and information and makes the call whether to approve or reject the visa. As part of the process, they often issue 221g when they want to do additional processing, and cannot make the decision at the time interview is being conducted.

Here, I will try to capture as much information on 221g to try to explain the process.

What is 221g?
When the consulate officer determines that additional processing is required before they can make the decision, they issue 221g.

When is 221g issued?
A person can be put under administrative processing, because of several reasons. Some of the most common reasons are:

  1. Background check: This can happen if a person has a common muslim name, or is working in an industry like pharmaceutical, biotech, engineering etc that’s there on TAL (Technology Alert List); or has a name matching to an entry in alert list.
  2. Employment check: This can happen if a person is working for a consulting company and the officer wants to ensure that the submitted client/project information is correct; or want to check if the employer maintains control over employee’s tasks and activities (employer-employee relationship).
  3.  PIMS: This can happen when the petition has not been updated at the KSC (Kentucky Service Center) and the officer puts the processing on hold until the information gets updated there.

What does the DOS do after 221g is issued?
Once your case is put under administrative processing, following steps happen:
1. A slip will be issued. Different color slips are issued for different reasons by different consulates. The slip will have the case number assigned to your stamping. The case number starts w/ the year of interview date and will be of the format 2012xxx-xxx-x or 2012xxx-xxx-xx (assuming the candidate went for interview in 2012).
2. If the consulate needs additional documents for the processing, they will ask you to submit the documents. These can be submitted electronically or at VFS drop-box. The issued slip will have information about the required documents and how to submit them. The processing will not start until all the documents have been submitted.
3. After this, you just need to sit back and wait for them to process your case.
4. Once the processing is complete and you are determined to be eligible for the visa, then you will be asked to submit the passport (if not already submitted) and they would stamp the visa in the passport. If you are not found to be eligible, then they would return the original documents (except for 797).

How long does it take to resolve?
There is no set timeline for 221g processing. It can take as little as a week, or as much as several months.

How to follow-up?
As per DOS “Before making inquiries about status of administrative processing, applicants or their representatives will need to wait at least 60 days from the date of interview or submission of supplemental documents, whichever is later.” One can follow-up in following ways:
1. Track your passport on VFS website
2. Track your case number on concerned consulate website. Note that not all cases can be tracked electronically, and each consulate has a different method of updating the cases.
3. Call VFS (contact information available on VFS website). Note that they will not provide any more meaningful information than what’s already available from (1) and (2)
4. Email concerned consulate (contact information available at respective consulate website). Note that they may not be very good in responding.
5. Email or call Department of State in Washington DC (contact information available on DOS website). Note that they will not provide any more meaningful information than what’s already available from (1) and (2), and may be short in conversation.
6. If you were working in US, then you can email your Senator and ask them for help. However, this should be done only if it has been pending for more than 60 days.

Can I expedite 221g processing?
There is no way to expedite the process.

Does delay mean rejection?
Not necessarily. Unfortunately, administrative processing takes time, and one needs to remain hopeful. If one has been asked to submit the passport, then that’s definitely a positive sign. However, if one has not been asked to submit the passport, then it’s not necessarily a negative sign.

Are there any alternates to this?
There are not many alternates, but the few ones available are:
1. Apply for visa in another category. This can be done as long as you are eligible for that visa category. One doesn’t need to withdraw the pending 221g application.
2. Apply for same visa but through another employer (applicable more to H-1 applicants). Based on your current petition, an employer (same or different) can file cap-exempt petition for you. Once it is approved you can re-appear for visa interview. Again, one doesn’t need to withdraw the pending 221g application.

What happens in case of rejection?
In case the stamping request is rejected after the processing:
1. Consulate will send the petition back to USCIS for reconsideration along w/ their comments
2. All your original documents will be returned to you, except for 797 which is sent to USCIS
3. Once USCIS receives the petition, they will send a notice of receipt to the petitioner
4. USCIS will review the petition (this could take 2-3 months) and either issue NOIR (Notice of Intent to Revoke) or NOID (Notice of Intent to Deny). The petitioner will be given certain days (30-60 days, actual days given is mentioned in the NOIR/NOID) to respond.
5. Based on petitioner’s response, USCIS will finally reinstate the petition or deny it
6. If it’s reinstated, then USCIS will send the document to the concerned consulate, which in turn will get in touch w/ you to appear at the consulate.

[As I get more information on 221g and based on most commonly asked questions in the blog, I will continue to update this post]

Also, you can check out our 221(g) tracker that has anonymous data with users like you, who added the details for community benefit.  Waiting for the 221(g) response from US Consulate can be very painful…To help everyone be informed on average processing time and other similar cases,  we have built an easy way to track for users their 221(g) status and let the community have an idea on the timeline as well. It is fully anonymous. Please add your case to the 221(g) Tracker.

221(g) Case Tracker

View 221(g) Cases by added by community. Please add your 221(g) Case for everyone's benefit. It is fully anonymous and will help many waiting for it like you.

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Comments ( 1,366 )

  1. S Kajal

    I am very frustrated and feeling helpless since last 10 days. Please help me. I had my interview on August 11, 2016. The officer said that my visa has been approved and I was NOT given any slip. He kept my passport. Since that day, my visa status is showing administrative processing. Why is that? Please someone help me.

    1. administrator

      S Kajal,

      At times, it is put in AP due to no fault of yours. Maybe they are unable to verify something related to petition etc and need more time. If they needed anything from you, they would have contacted you by now.

      Unfortunately, there is no SLA for this and could take days, weeks or months.

  2. Rajesh

    I have received 221g when I submitted through drop box and and asked me to appear for interview. I completed my interview today and they have asked few questions and took my passport. Would that means my visa is approved? How many days it may take to receive my passport?

      1. Krishna

        Hi saurabh,
        I went to h1b stamping in jun16 I got 221g slip…and asked for tax documents my employer didn’t submit till now
        1.what else I can do if he didn’t submit query..
        2.Is there any specific time for submission of query..
        Thank you

        1. administrator


          1. Nothing you can do
          2. There is no specific timelines, but long delays don’t help your case. For example, if you submit the response 6 months from now, the officer may think why it took so much time when a company is expected to keep regular tax records and it shouldn’t be something that takes that long (just an example).

  3. Nana Agyemang

    i went to cr1 interview on the 2/8/16 and the consular issued me a letter stating that i was been found ineligible under section 221g of the immigration and nationality they will return the case to NVC.which will return the above case to USCIS.we should not contact the embassy regarding the case as it may take six months for the case to forwarded.
    My question is would they give me another chance or is totally deny?.And this 221g is under which category,is it admnistrative processing or what?

    1. administrator

      Nana Agyemang,

      They will continue to process your visa application and make the final decision in next few days/weeks/months. Yes, 221g is administrative processing.

  4. Bia

    So my mom got an interview yesterday to ask for a tourist visa to visit me. But after the interview they kept her passport and gave her a white i221 form and checked the box with administrative processing. What do they mean by that? Is there still a chance for my mom to get a visa? What should we do? Thanks

    1. administrator


      Did they mention any documents in the issued 221g form? You need to continue to wait here, as there is no other option. 221g issuance doesn’t mean denial and there are lots of cases where visa was eventually approved.

      1. bia

        they didnt mention anything about any documents just gave my mom the form. and how long does it usually take to find out if she could get visa or not? is there anything serious here or they just want to take a deeper look into her case?

        1. administrator


          There is no set processing time and could take days, weeks or months. Nothing much you can do except to wait.

          1. bia

            so i just used her confirmation number to check her visa status online and it says refused. so that meant she couldnt get visa this time right? or they are still trying to do something else? thanks

          2. administrator


            That’s a standard status for petitions in 221g status. Did you check that on US travel docs site or CEAC site?

            As they have kept her passport, consider it as a positive sign (not an approval, but a positive sign).

          3. bia

            i checked and it says her visa was refused. so thats meant she has to re apply again if she still wants to get the visa right? or are they still trying to figure out something else?

          4. administrator


            They issued 221g which is refusal and the same is shown on the site. However, they still have the passport and are continuing to process it. If they return the passport, then it means they are not going to issue the visa at all. You should continue to wait until the passport is returned.

            If the visa is eventually rejected, then she can appear again. However, it may end up in similar fate until you know why it was rejected and correct those issues.

          5. bia

            so just wait until the passport is returned and hopefully they will say why they refused her visa. or how do we find out why she got denied? we thought if they kept the passport it would be positive sign. i got so disappointed when i checked her status today.

          6. administrator


            Most of the times they provide a very generic reason as denial text. In reality most of B-1/2 visas are denied either due to the fact that person was considered as a potential immigrant or didn’t have finances to support the trip.

  5. antonio

    my wife went to cr1 interview marriage interview and they guy told her that she would need more evidence and that he was sending the case back to uscis but he or the paper didn’t say more evidence of what, we not sure what he talking about and he didn’t write it on the slip but we check the website and it say administration processing and he kept our wedding pictures only, since it says administration processing does that mean he have a chance of heart and have not deicide should have give us a visa or not? we been married for 2 years.
    [email protected]

    1. administrator


      Administrative processing doesn’t mean denial. They would let her know when the processing is completed, and it could be approved at that time. Patience is the secret weapon when stuck in administrative processing.

  6. h1b_Approved.

    Hi Saurabh,

    As you have mentioned, 221(g) will be issued as part of background check if a person has a common muslim name. Are they doing background check for all muslims ? My H1b visa is approved and I’m planning to take my spouse for stamping interview.

    It would be helpful if you clarify.


    1. administrator


      Its not a blanket check for all folks having Muslim name. It is case by case basis. However, if someone is appearing for a visa interview and has common Muslim name, it is better to be prepared for delays and have back-up plans.

  7. Dario Rivera

    Hi Saurabh,

    I had my interview on Aug the 5th. The consul approved my visa. However when l picked it up yesterday, I got surprised by the fact that under section 221g l am not eligible for a non-migrant visa (b1-b2: tourism and business). On the white slip attached to my passport, was checked to sending to them via the Visa Collecting courier service in my city a new passport since the one l used in the process was a bit deteriorated.

    They don´t mention nor ask me to send them in advance neither another document nor info or interview at consular section. What does this mean? How long would it take? After sending it to them, Would they ask me for another document during the process?

    I´d appreciate your answer Saurabh. Thanks a lot.

    1. administrator

      Dario Rivera,

      If they have only mentioned about new passport, then get a new one and submit that. If they had to ask for any other documents they would have listed them in 221g form.

  8. happiness

    Hello Saurabh,

    I recently attended an H1B visa interview. I work full time for a legitimate US consulting firm. The visa interview went well but the officer issued a yellow form 221g.

    The form does not have any boxes checked off. Do I just need to wait until further administration review is complete? Or am I supposed to submit the additional documents mentioned on the form? I am confused because none of the boxes are checked off.

    Appreciate your help in advance.

    1. UPENDRA

      Hi Saurabh,

      Same issue happened to me. I got white 221g slip but no boxes were checked off. When I called call center, they instructed me to submit all the documents listed on the sheet. In addition I also got a email questionnaire. Could you please update what happened afterwards in your situation.



      1. administrator


        Call center at times provides scripted response. If nothing was marked in that document, then no need to submit anything. If you received email w/ questions, then do respond to that.

          1. administrator


            Look at the site of US embassy/consulate where you went to. They should have phone numbers mentioned there.

  9. AGB

    I got 221g and i am waiting from 7.5 months. I heard from my employer that USCIS visited my employer office personally and verified bunch of documents. How much time they will take to respond as it was completed 3 weeks back.

  10. 221gb2visa

    My Parents for visitors visa interview on JULY 26th to mumbai consulate. theey were issued 221g asking for a list of documents like invitation, resume, research, publications , iternary, purpose etc which looks like general one. My father works with defense sector. This might have triggered some kind of suspicion and hence the 221g. Has anyone here faced similar issue? if so can you suggest how these documents are expected is there any format which is favourable to support the application. Research and publications is irrelevant to my parents occupation, how do we justify that?

    1. administrator


      Yes, the defense sector could have triggered this 221g. If they haven’t published any research etc then mention so in the cover letter addressed to the consulate office.

      1. 221gB2visa

        We have prepared all the documents in requested format. Is it okay to include additional supporting document like ‘No objection certificate’ issued by government Defense department ? Or we jut stick to what they say in
        The document ?

          1. 221gb2visa

            Hi Saurabh

            We emailed all the docs to mail id in the slip but did not get any auto response. When I researched through the forums regarding this I see that the subject line has to
            Match exactly as per the slip. For example it was given AAxxxxxxxxx — last name, first name. In the above format we just put a single (-) in the subject line between ID and name. So it did not trigger an auto response but I am not sure if it also means that they would not
            Go through the email. Can you please clear my confusion if you had come across this before?

          2. administrator


            I don’t know about the subject line. Maybe call the contact center and ask them about it.

  11. Vinay karyal

    I was refused under the section 221g on 24th dec 2015 after two months my case got updated and on 11 feb my status was refused. I was refused because they didn’t know anything about my 12th board as i did from internation board. Later on i come to know about they haven’t verified anything from anywhere about my board and after some day i collected my passport with all the docs and 214b i applied to non-ranked university without toefl i even don’t know whether it’s blacklisted or not(dixie state university) so can i apply again and in good university with toefl score or now it’s doesn’t matter as i am afraid that now they will not approve my visa because i never heard 221g f1 rejection got visa in next interview please help me out

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