As many of you know, Biden signed a Proclamation banning travelers from India to enter US due to the worsening situation with COVID in India on April 30th. To get US visa stamping done during this travel ban period, you need National Interest Exception(NIE) or you need to be part of the Exceptions as listed in the Travel Ban Proclamation.
Many users, applied for NIE using a letter from their company and were able to get the stamping done. But, for some who did not have NIE or it was not clear to the Visa Officer, a 221(g) administrative processing form was issued. In this article, we will review those samples and what they mean, and some context around them.
Before we get into details of 221g, in context of National Interest exception, let’s briefly review what is 221g.
What is 221g form – Refused for Administrative Processing ?
US Consulates, when they need additional information regarding the visa application or need to verify something on their side, they issue a form that says “Your case was refused under section 221(g) of Immigration Nationality Act(INA)“. It is usually called ‘refused for administrative processing’. Depending on the reason for 221(g), you may be asked to submit some documents to the consulate. Sometimes, they do not ask for anything and just say your case requires administrative processing.
If you were to be issued 221g form, there is nothing that you can do. All you can do is wait. There is no estimated time for processing if you were to be issued a 221g form. If it is a simple check, usually the response is quick like few days to few weeks. But, if something is not clear, it can be stuck in that stage for months. You can read more on What is 221(g) for US Visa ?Issues, FAQs
What is 221(g) form issued around National Interest Exception(NIE) ?
Since the US travel ban kicked in, many of the pending visa applications that were in the process received administrative processing 221g forms. Also, many users, who attended US Visa interviews and could not demonstrate that they fall under National Interest Exception(NIE), were issued 221g Forms asking to submit proof that tells they qualify for NIE.
NIE Approval for US Visa Interview Appointment: Since the US Travel Ban started in early May 2021, applicants planning to get visa interview appointments for H1B, H4, or others need to first request for Emergency US Visa Appointment based National Interest Exception. The applicant needs to fall under certain criteria as listed on the Official US Dept of State Website to get NIE.
221g Issued at Visa Interview: If the consulate approves the NIE request, then they can attend the Visa interview. The ultimate decision for issuance of US Visa under NIE is up to the Visa Officer. They would determine the same during the visa interview if the applicant really qualifies for NIE or not. In some cases, when they are not clear, they also issue 221g form at that time as well.
Let’s now look at some samples of the same and what they mean
2 Sample 221g given for H1B Dropbox Submission
Below are the two 221g white forms and slips that were issued by the US consulate for a couple of our users who applied for H1B Visa Renewal using the Dropbox option. This was issued around June 20, 2021. . This does not give any additional information to the user to submit anything. Just says text Presidential Proclamation as a reason.
Sample 221g Issued for H4 Visa Stamping asking NIE of Spouse
Below is the sample 221g form issued at US Consulate in Mumbai for a H4 Visa holder, who submitted for Visa renewal using Dropbox option. In this 221g, it is clear that the user was asked to submit ‘Husband’s Approval NIE‘. The background for this is that, for a dependent holder to get visa under NIE, the principal applicant need to be qualified for NIE.
Sample 221g Issued at In-Person Interview H1B – NIE
Below is sample 221g that was issued at US Consulate in Delhi for H1B Visa stamping. It has Consular officer comments that say, ” Please provide proof of qualification for the current national Interest Exemption“. For this case, the user needs to submit the NIE letter proof that is convincing to the Visa officer.
3 Sample 221g Issued for H1B Dropbox – Proclamation
Below is 3 sample 221g forms that were issued at Hyderabad Consulate for H1B Visa Dropbox submission. Two of them are in white color, the other one is in Blue color. It states that the user needs to submit documentation to the Hyderabad consulate via email to be eligible for further process.
Sample 221g for H1B Regular Visa Appointment – No NIE
Below is a sample 221g form that was given for an H1B Visa applicant at Chennai for Regular Visa Stamping for not having NIE. If you see the below 221g white form, it shows that the applicant got admin processing due to the proclamation in effect and needs to apply after the ban is lifted.
Did you get 221g form due to US Travel Ban or lack of National Interest Exception ? What action did you take ? Share your thoughts and experiences in comments below.