In certain cases, an immigrant visa applicant will receive a notice at the conclusion of the consular interview informing them that their case has been placed on hold pending administrative processing under section 221(g) of the U.S. Immigration and Nationality Act. Why do cases go through administrative processing and what does this mean for visa applicants?

A 221(g) notice is issued when additional information, documents, or background checks are necessary to determine visa eligibility. Before issuing a visa, consular officers must check the information in the visa application against many databases for potential risks, security concerns, and other information that may make an applicant ineligible to receive a visa. Examples of information that can lead to administrative processing include past criminal history, ties to terrorist organizations, current and past membership in a Communist party, previous immigration violations, and discrepancies with information provided in previous visa applications. A 221(g) notice may also be issued in the case of an unprepared applicant, who fails to bring police certificates and other civil documents in accord with the interview instructions. Note that this list is not exhaustive. If any information shows up in the databases that leads the consular officer to believe the applicant is ineligible for the visa, the case will be placed in administrative processing until a determination on eligibility can be made.

If additional information or documents are needed, the notice will list the documents or information that the applicant must submit in order for the consular officer to proceed processing the visa application. The notice should also contain instructions on how to submit the additional evidence. In certain instances, the applicant will not need to provide any additional materials but must wait for other security clearances. Applicants who are issued a 221(g) can request return of their passports during the post-interview waiting period, and can monitor their accounts on to know when the consulate reaches a decision.

If your case is placed in administrative processing, the entire visa application process will take longer than average. According to the U.S. Department of State, most administrative processing is resolved within 60 days of the interview date. However, each consulate and case varies on the amount of time required to complete administrative processing. Generally, consulates require applicants to wait about 60 days from the date of the interview or the date of submission of additional documents, whichever is later, before contacting the office about the status of the case. If you received a 221(g) notice, please contact our office for additional information on how to proceed.