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.
Admin processing is the normal status and could mean multiple things with or without form 221(g).
A new type of admin processing is on the rise at US embassy when they issue form DS 5535 to go through your last 15 year travel history and residence addresses.
This article will discuss:
- Form 221g Processing Time
- H1B Form 221g in Canada or Mexico
- Passport Returned by Visa Officer
- H4 Visa Approved, H1B still Admin Processing
- Reasons for Form 221g
- Why Identity / Security Checks with Form 221(g) are done?
Form 221g Processing Time
CEAC – Visa Approved but Status is Administrative Processing status is common these days after visa interview in US embassy. If your visa was approved and no form 221(g) was issued, then you can expect your stamped passport within 5-10 working days. No need to worry.
- Form 221g processing takes 7-20 days if no documents are requested and passport is kept by visa officer.
- Form 221g can take anywhere between 30 days to 17 months if passport has been returned and employer documents are requested.
It is possible that US embassy has not issued form 221(g) but the status will still show as admin processing on CEAC website. But, they can still send your application back to USCIS in USA for US work location verification.
In this case, your application status will show as Administrative Processing even though the visa officer told you VISA APPROVED.
White Form 221g US Embassy Visa Interview – Real Life Case
This real life case happened at US embassy in New Delhi for H1B visa interview. This person worked for direct US employer full time. This H1B visa stamping was done just after H1B transfer approval in premium.
- Visa Officer (VO): How are doing today?
A: I am doing fine. What about you?
- VO: What class of visa have you applied for?
- VO: Which company are you going to work for?
A: ABC Company.
- VO: What is the education of your wife?
- VO: Is B.A. equal to Bachelor of Arts
- 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.
- VO: Westford? Where? In Massachusetts?
A: Yes, Massachusetts.
- 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.
- VO: Please move to the next window and my colleague will help you.
They move to next window and then were informed that they are putting the case for administrative processing. They now ask following questions:
- 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.
- Q: Do you have any brother/sister?
A: Yes, I have.
- Q: What is the name of your sister?
A: XYZ Sharma.
- Q: What is the name of your brother?
A: I don’t have any brother.
- Q: When do you intend to travel?
A: 11th Oct.
They hand over the white form 221g but keep passports with them.
Problem (as analysed by person himself and attorney): 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.
White Form 221(g) – No Documents to Submit
Form 221g may be issued even if there are no extra documents required from you. Usually, the documents list is printed by default and the visa officer will cross it down.
Form 221(g) Solution by Attorney
Attorney and person went through the full transcript of the interview (as written above) and concluded that VO probably had 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 premium service email directly with clarification on the address that the person forgot to tell the Visa Officer.
The is the the real email that was sent. I must say that attorney was really smart in this case and took fast decision and really helped the candidate.
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!
You can get admin processing form 221g issued in Canada or Mexico too. The risk of form 221g delay is always high if your paperwork is not complete.
Form 221g processing time varies between 7 days to 6 months. If the form 221(g) is issued with request to submit more documents, you can expect to wait form ore than 8 weeks. If there are no documents requested, then you can expect your US visa approval in 7-30 working days.
You can request to get your passport while US embassy is doing their internal admin processing. Once US embassy has cleared your case, they will send an email to submit passport again.
H1B Form 221g in Canada or Mexico
If the visa officer is not satisfied with your answers or you are working in an EVC (Employer Vendor Client model) with H1B visa, the chances are high for request for more documents.
You will have to stay back in Mexico or Canada if your case gets into Admin processing. It may take 7-14 days to get your passport with stamped US visa.
You should not book your travel tickets with fixed dates if you do get form 221g as there are no fixed timelines.
Passport Returned by Visa Officer
If your passport has been returned by US visa officer after interview and a form 221g was issued, then the chances are very high that your case processing will take at-least 6 or more weeks.
You will get an email to submit the passport again as and when the US embassy is ready to stamp your US visa. Once you submit the passport again, you can expect to get stamped passport back in 7-14 days.
It is important to keep a buffer of at-least 3 weeks after US visa interview these days if you are going for visa interview especially H1B and L1 visas.
H4 Visa Approved, H1B still Admin 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 approval is also on the way. Just a couple of more days to wait.
Reasons for Form 221g
There can any number of reasons for issuing form 221g by US embassy and some can be really un-heard of.
Recently, a person was issued form 221g and asked to submit the details of CBP encounter at US port of entry. This person had paid the fine for not declaring the food items that he was carrying from India.
We will add more form 221g reasons here as and when we hear.
Why Identity / Security Checks with Form 221(g) are done?
Identity checks are done by US embassy to get US government security clearance on the person before the visa is issued. You cannot expedite the security check process 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.
The State Department do not have any specific time limitations to give 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.