Many of our followers have been asking a very important question, what does a visa “refusal” mean and what is 221(g) Administrative Processing?
The situation unfolds something like this. You’ve applied for a non-immigrant visa and have attended your Consular visa interview. After attending your interview, you check the status of your visa on the State Department’s Consular Electronic Application Center (CEAC) webpage, and you see the dreaded words “Refused.”
What does this all mean and what can you expect if you find yourself in this predicament? In this video, attorney Jacob Sapochnick walks you through the meaning of a “refusal” and how you can still be successful in obtaining a visa despite this obstacle.
Applicants for nonimmigrant visas can check the status of their visa cases by visiting the State Department’s Consular Electronics Application Center CEAC launch page .
To check your status, you must enter your DS-160 confirmation number and the Consular location (Country and City) where you were interviewed.
The DS-160 confirmation number can be found on the DS-160 confirmation page and starts with AA followed by 8 digits.
Once you have successfully entered the online CEAC visa check system, you will receive one of the following results:
(1) Application receipt pending
If you have submitted your online non-immigrant visa application (DS-160), it has not yet been processed into the visa system. At some locations, your application will remain in this status until you appear for an interview or until your application is ready for review. Please see the Embassy or Consulate website for information on the next steps required for visa processing.
The application data has not been entered into the Embassy system.
For interview cases, the application will remain in this status until the applicant appears for an interview.
For mail-in cases, this means the Embassy has not received the application.
(2) Application Received
Your case is open and ready for your interview, fingerprints, and required documents. If you have already had your interview, please check your status after two business days. If no interview was required, please check back in two business days for the updated status of your application.
For mail-in cases: The visa application has been received by the Embassy and is undergoing review.
This also includes cases that are pending for additional documents
(3) Administrative Processing
Your visa case is currently undergoing administrative processing. This processing can take several weeks. Please follow any instructions provided by the consular officer at the time of your interview. If further information is needed, you will be contacted. If your visa application is approved, it will be processed and mailed back within two business days.
This status includes:
- The visa issuance process (visa has been approved but not yet printed)
- Pending for additional documents/information
Your visa is in final processing. If you have not received after 10 working days, please see the webpage for contact information of the Embassy or Consulate where you submitted your application.
The visa has been issued
A U.S. consular officer has adjudicated and refused your visa application. Please follow any instructions provided by the consular officer. If you were informed by the consular officer that your case was refused for administrative processing, your case will remain refused while undergoing such processing. You will receive another adjudication once such processing is complete. Please be advised that the processing time varies and that you will be contacted if additional information is needed.
This includes cases that are:
- Pending for additional documents/information
- * Administrative Processing (See below for details)
- Cases with a waiver request pending.
- Denied under Section 214(b) of the INA.
- For E-visa new company registration cases: The visa application has been received by the Embassy and is ready for review. Please wait for further instructions from the Embassy or Consulate. Processing time for new company registration typically takes at least 3 weeks.
For the purposes of this video, we will focus on what the visa status “refused” really means.
Applicants can receive a visa “refusal” for a number of different reasons.
In many cases, applicants are left confused upon seeing a visa “refusal,” especially where the Consular officer has told the applicant that their visa has been approved following their visa interview. In other situations, applicants have received a “refusal” after following the Consulate’s instructions to submit documents via dropbox (for instance for applicants seeking H-1B visa stamping). Applicants who have been told their cases have been placed in 221(g) administrative processing also receive a visa “refusal.”
Before March 3, 2020, any case that required further documentation or information before a decision could be made would automatically receive the visa status “administrative processing.” Additionally, if the Consular officer could not make a decision by the conclusion of the visa interview, applicants would also receive the same “administrative processing” status.
However, after March 3, 2020, the State Department changed its procedure and began “refusing” cases where further documentation, or information was needed from the client, or where the client was placed in 221(g) administrative processing,
A Visa Refusal is not the same as a “Denial”
A visa “refusal” is not a denial of the visa application. Instead, a “refusal” means that the case will remain on hold until the case goes through further processing. This means that the Consulate will place your case on hold until the documentation or information it has requested from you has been received. Additionally, for cases placed in 221(g) administrative processing, applicants will typically undergo additional background checks, and during this process the case will remain refused until the Consular officer is prepared to make a final decision.
When an applicant receives a visa “refusal,” the processing time for a decision to be made on the case can vary widely depending on the reason for the refusal. In most cases, a decision is made soon after the requested documentation or information is provided, however in more complex situations such as 221(g) administrative processing it could take longer than a year for a final decision to be issued.
Refusals for those placed in Administrative Processing
The State Department indicates that there are typically only two possible outcomes for complete and executed U.S. visa applications. The Consular officer will either issue or refuse the visa.
If a visa applicant has not established that he or she is eligible for a visa, the Consular officer will refuse the visa application.
However, in some cases, a consular officer may determine that additional information from sources other than the applicant may help establish an applicant’s eligibility for a visa. In such cases, refused visa applications require further “administrative processing.”
Once the case-specific administrative processing has concluded, the Consular officer may decide that an applicant is now qualified for the visa he or she has applied for.
On the other hand, the officer might decide that the applicant is not eligible for the visa he or she is seeking.
When administrative processing is required, the Consular officer will typically inform the applicant at the end of the visa interview. The duration of the administrative processing varies based on the individual circumstances of each case. Visa applicants are encouraged to apply early for their visas, well in advance of their anticipated travel date in case of receiving administrative processing.
What does a visa refusal under section 221(g) administrative processing mean?
A visa refusal under section 221(g) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) means the applicant did not establish eligibility for a visa to the satisfaction of the consular officer, under the law.
When an applicant is refused under 221(g), it means the Consular officer determined that the applicant was not eligible for the visa after completing the visa application and any required interview.
When a consular officer refuses a case under 221(g), she or he will convey to the applicant whether the applicant is required to provide any further documentation or information, or whether the case requires additional administrative processing.
Reconsideration of previously refused visas
It is possible that a Consular officer will reconsider a visa application that was refused under 221(g) at a later date, based on additional information or upon the resolution of administrative processing, and determine that the applicant is eligible for the visa they are seeking.
Can a refusal under section 221(g) be overturned?
Yes. If an application was refused under section 221(g) and the Consular officer specifically told the applicant to provide documents or information, the applicant must provide a complete response as soon as possible.
A Consular officer will request additional information from the applicant if he or she believes the information is relevant to establishing that the applicant is eligible for the visa sought.
If the Consular officer refuses a visa, but requests additional information, an applicant has one year from the date the visa was refused to submit the additional information. Otherwise, if an applicant does not provide the required additional information within one year, the applicant will have to reapply for the visa and pay another application fee.
Wait Times for Administrative Processing
If an application was refused and a Consular officer indicates administrative processing is required, processing times can vary based on individual circumstances. If an applicant’s situation presents a unique hardship, applicants should inform the Consular section where the visa application was made. In some instances, administrative processing can take longer than a year to come to a conclusion.
Communicating with the Consulate
Whatever your situation, it is important that you remain in constant communication with the Consulate. If further documentation or information has been requested from you, provide it as soon as possible. If you have not heard back from the Consulate within a reasonable period of time, you must constantly follow up by emailing the Consulate on a regular basis until you receive a decision for your case.
If your case is denied, you will receive an official notice of denial from the Consulate (different from a visa refusal on the CEAC webpage).
If your case has been stuck in administrative processing for more than a year, you should seek a consultation from an attorney who can determine what options you may have to resolve your case.
Contact Us Today. We hope that this information was helpful. If you have any further questions or would like to schedule a consultation, please text 619-483-4549 or call 619-819-9204.
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- Visa Status Check Online Information
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- Administrative Processing Information
- Visa Appointment Wait Times
- February Visa Bulletin
- USCIS Processing Times
- Chats with Charlie YouTube Channel
- Immigrant Visa Backlog Report
- DOS Visa Services Operating Status Update
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