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What Does A Visa Denial Under 221(g) Mean?

Sometimes when things don't go as planned in a consular filing case, the visa applicant may be temporarily refused a visa. Perhaps the most common code used by the consulate is 221(g).

What does 221(g) say exactly?

221(g) is can be found in the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA). The statute says, in part: "No visa or other documentation shall be issued to an alien if (1) it appears to the consular officer, from statements in the application, or in the papers submitted therewith, that such alien is ineligible to receive a visa or such other documentation under section 212, or any other provision of law, (2) the application fails to comply with the provisions of this Act, or the regulations issued thereunder, or (3) the consular officer knows or has reason to believe that such alien is ineligible to receive a visa or such other documentation under section 212, or any other provision of law....."

It is important to understand that while a 221(g) decision can be devastating, it is not necessarily a final decision. Rather, the consular officer has decided to, in effect, put the case on hold pending administrative processing or in many cases, pending the receipt of requested additional documentation. If the case is put under "administrative processing," but the consular officer is not requiring any further information from the applicant, that usually means that there is some sort of background or security check that is being or will have to be conducted before a visa is issued. Unfortunately, consular offices will usually not provide any more information other than that the case is pending. The wait can be extremely frustrating, with some cases pending for close to one year after being placed under administrative processing.

On the other hand, if the consular officer requests additional information or documents from the applicant, the applicant will be in a much better position to address the problem and hopefully see a speedier resolution. In many cases, for example, there may be deficiencies with the Affidavit of Support. While a flat-out denial may too extreme and legally untenable, the officer may ask the applicant to furnish additional financial information or seek an alternative or joint sponsor to overcome any public charge concerns. Provided that the applicant turns in the requested information to the office within the specified time, and assuming that the evidence is satisfactory, the consular officer should then issue the visa. It all depends, of course, on what the alleged problem is, and what documents or information the consular officer is expecting to see to resolve the problem. If the submission does not meet or allay the officer's concerns, the visa may ultimately be denied.

If you or the beneficiary you have filed for, find yourself in the second scenario where you are being asked to supply additional information or documentation, it is extremely important that respond within the designated time. Failure to do can be critical and result in a final denial of the visa. According the Foreign Adjudicator's Manual (FAM), which consular officers look to for procedural guidance, if the applicant fails to supply the evidence purporting to overcome the refusal within one year, officers are instructed to "terminate the registration"-which essentially means that the case will be cancelled. See 9 FAM 42.83 N 1.2.

We hope that you have enjoyed this article and learned at least one new thing or tip that you may not have known. To keep informed about the latest developments in immigration law, please subscribe to our blog feed by clicking on the "Subscribe To This Blog's Feed" button on the right. It is important to understand that the above is only general information. The law is extremely fact and circumstance sensitive. For an individual legal analysis of your specific legal case, please complete the "Case Evaluation" box to the right of the screen to get in touch with one of our attorneys.

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    • New Jersey Chapter | American Immigration Lawyers Association | Angie Garasia | Chapter Chair 2015-2016
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190 State Route 27
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