H1B Visa Approved but Status is Administrative Processing

Anil Gupta  20 Feb, 19      183  USA Work in USA - H1B, L Visa

After the H1B Visa interview at US embassy in Delhi, India, Visa officer took my passport and told me Congratulations, your visa is approved and I will get the passport in 2-3 days.

I just checked my CEAC status online and it says: Administrative Processing. I did NOT receive any form 221g or any other document whatsoever.

Why is it in Administrative processing then? This is pretty common question in this situation.

Don’t worry.
Administrative processing is the normal status and could mean multiple things with or without form 221(g).

CEAC – Visa approved but status is administrative processing

Many times, US embassy will not issue form 221(g) just because they do not need any documents from you.

But, they can still send your application back to USCIS in USA for US work location verification.

Related: EB2 India Predictions – 20 years average wait time, 70 years worst case

In this case, your application status will show as Administrative Processing even though the visa officer told you VISA APPROVED.

If your visa was approved and they did not give you any form 221(g), then you can expect a response/ passport within 3-7 days.

No need to worry here.

H1B visa approved but status is Administrative processing
H1B visa approved but status is Administrative processing

White Form 221g Issued US Embassy Visa Interview – Real Life Case

  1. Visa Officer (VO): How are doing today?
    A: I am doing fine. What about you?
  2. VO: What class of visa have you applied for?
    A: H1B
  3. VO: Which company are you going to work for?
    A: ABC Company.
  4. VO: What is the education of your wife?
    A: B.A.
  5. VO: Is B.A. equal to Bachelor of Arts
    A: Yes
  6. VO: Where have you lived in US and where are you going to live now?
    A: Tampa, FL and Westford.
    -I was interrupted by my kid here. So, could not answer completely and was immediately followed by another question.
  7. VO: Westford? Where? In Massachusetts?
    A: Yes, Massachusetts.
  8. VO: Is there any client or you are going to work directly for this company?
    A: There is no client. The work is directly for ABC company.
  9. VO: Please move to the next window and my colleague will help you.
    A: Okay.

——————————————————————–
We move to next window and then they inform us that they are putting my case for administrative processing. They now ask following questions:

  1. Q: When did you change your address in last 15 years? Is it in 2006?
    A: I thought they are asking specifically about India as i was in India in 2006. I answered Yes, and gave my Indian address before and after 2006.
  2. Q: Do you have any brother/sister?
    A: Yes, I have.
  3. Q: What is the name of your sister?
    A: XYZ Sharma.
  4. Q: What is the name of your brother?
    A: I don’t have any brother.
  5. Q: When do you intend to travel?
    A: 11th Oct.

They hand over the form 221g with all the information crossed. They kept our passports with them.

Problem: In this case, this person forgot to tell one of his address that he lived in USA to VO officer. VO did not tell this to the person but instead, just issued a form 221(g) with no documents to submit.

Sample white form 221(g) with no documents to submit

Solution: Attorney and person went through the full transcript of the interview (as written above) and concluded that VO probably has doubts on person’s identity since he forgot to mention all his US addresses clearly.

The Attorney in USA then sent an email to USCIS directly with clarification on the address that the person forgot to tell the Visa Officer.

Sample Email Form 221(g) clarification sent to USCIS premium processing Center in USA

The US Embassy was satisfied and they cleared the ‘Administrative processing’ within a week. The person had his H1B visa approved in 7 straight days including weekends.

A smart attorney can really take you far!

H4 dependent Visa Approved online, Passport Issued, H1B still in Administrative processing

It is also possible that with NO Form 221 (g) was issued and Visa officer told you ‘Visa Approved‘.

Your dependent’s H4 gets approved but your own H1B visa status shows as ‘Administrative Processing‘ online.

This generally happens when US embassy is just verifying primary H1B’s credentials a little bit more or have sent H1B’s application to USCIS to confirm some more information.
One of them could be ‘Work Location‘.

No need to worry, you will get your H1B approved.
Remember, H4 cannot exist without H1B. If H4 has already been approved, your H1B is also on the way. Just a couple of more days to wait!

White Form 221(g) issued but no documents need to be submitted

This is a unique case where there are no documents need to be submitted but you are still issued form 221(g).
Normally, Visa officer will just put a big cross on the form 221(g) and handover to your. They will also keep your passport with them.

Why Identity / Security Checks with Form 221(g) are done?

This is needed so the government can complete its security clearance on the person for the visa issuance. This is not a process that can be expedited, as the State Department (through the Embassies) takes its security obligations quite seriously.
We have found that once someone supplies the missing or corrected information, the security clearances can take 1 to 8 weeks, and unfortunately, the government shut down does delay these clearances.

While we know it is frustrating to be told there is no precise date, the application is in the hands of the State Department and they do not have any specific time limitations they must abide by if they decide someone’s case needs additional security clearances.

Sometimes, these clearances are requested just because someone with a name similar to ABC’s name is on a watch list of individuals who committed a crime – and then the Embassy must be sure it can clearly determine that ABC is NOT that person.

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  1. Waiting Waiting   18 Feb, 19 at 5:08 pm

    Hi, What if someone is given Ds 5535 with 221 g for h1b stamping for the first time and passport returned? Interview was in early January, 2019
    What will be the processing time for 221g with ds 5535 questionnaire?

    • Anil Gupta   18 Feb, 19 at 8:01 pm

      If your passport has been returned, then the wait time is most probably longer than 8-10 weeks.

      • Waiting Waiting   20 Feb, 19 at 7:20 pm

        Have you seen cases with DS 5535 admin processing under 221 g and how long do they usually take from what you have seen?

        • Anil Gupta   20 Feb, 19 at 7:43 pm

          It depends on why US embassy has asked you to fill DS 5535.
          Do you work in any weapon or ammunition related technology field?

          Sorry to say but it can take anywhere from a month to more than a year depending on your profile.
          The more common is 12+ months.

          • Waiting Waiting   20 Feb, 19 at 8:21 pm

            No, not in technology.
            They have not shared any reason to why this was given. I have studied and worked in the US before without any issues in visas for 10+years.

            • Anil Gupta   20 Feb, 19 at 9:07 pm

              As per my information, the form 5535 is usually issued when US government’s system gets a hit on your name for a possible threat. I may be wrong here but this form is usually issued to get a detailed background check for you.


  2. Hello Anil,

    I submitted my documents for dropbox on Jan 30th but I was called in for finger prints and interview on Feb 12th. In the interview I was asked the folowing questions –
    Highest level of education?(ans: Masters in Industrial and Systems Engg),
    Did I use my OPT and then applied for H1?(ans: yes),
    Do I work at client location or Petitioner location? (ans: Im fulltime employee with my petitioned so I work at the petitioner’s location),
    How long have you been working with this company? (ans: I have been working since April 2017, so about 2 years)

    After this the visa officer said “Your application is under administrative processing, we will let you know in 5 business days”. Should I be concerned? how long might this take?

    Thanks in advance!


    • Anil,

      Sorry I forgot to mention, the visa officer did not give me any 221G sheet with check marks or anything.

      I got a small rectangular white slip. Hope that helps.

      • Anil Gupta   18 Feb, 19 at 9:51 am

        I think US embassy is just doing a simple identity verification on your case and you can expect to get your stamped passport within 7-10 working days.


        • Thank you for replying. I hope the same. Few of mt friends who had similar Dropbox to Interview experiences got it in 4-7 business days. But I agree with what you said regarding simple verification.

  3. Kelly Zaara   15 Feb, 19 at 11:39 pm

    Good day . My husband had his spousal visa interview about two months back , they told him not to worry that his visa was approved but that they needed an “authenticated “ copy of my divorce documents . A week later we sent what we thought was sufficient and about two weeks after that they responded and wrote the copy was not authenticated. I then contacted the clerks office in the state of my divorce and asked them to send me the full authenticated copy and it took almost a month for us to recieve it. We sent that to the embassy almost two weeks ago and have not heard anything . What can we do and should we be concerned ?

    • Anil Gupta   16 Feb, 19 at 8:41 am

      Embassy does take time to validate the documents that you submit. It is possible that they are cross verifying your document with the clerks office in US.

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