Decoding the Section 221(g) of the Immigration and Nationality Act
F1 Student Visa applicants are increasingly becoming apprehensive about the Section 221(g) of the Immigration and Nationality Act, especially in keeping with the strict immigration policies introduced by the Donald Trump administration. But rest assured that it can be easily overcome if the required shortfall or documentation is fulfilled.
At the outset, let us understand about section 221 (g) and why it is issued to an applicant. Upon scrutiny of your visa application documents, the applicant is sometimes informed that a final decision cannot be made on his visa application immediately. In such a case, the consular officer raises the Section 221(g) of the Immigration and Nationality Act and informs the applicant that the case will be withheld till the applicant’s eligibility for the visa can be proved. The increasing number of such cases needed processing “time-out”.
Most often, the 221(g) cases for the F1 visa are related to the security aspect or alternatively to establish the genuine eligibility of candidate for study, wherein the consular officer requires additional time, information, or documentation before making a final visa decision. In connection to security, it has been observed that students who apply for programs pertaining to fields that fall under the Technology Alert List are subjected to the section 221(g) of the Immigration and Nationality Act. The reason for invoking this act is that the US does not want to collaborate on sensitive technologies with the wrong individuals, who may misuse knowledge to harm people or damage property. In such cases, the applicant is requested to provide a resume, list of publications in the relevant field, and a description of the program and career plan of the applicant. Very often, these clearances are a mere formality, which makes time for running the application through various security checks.
On the other hand, eligibility related issues may include investigations or verifications in India or requests for information or documentation related to the qualifications of the applicant for a visa like education, work experience, paper publication, past or current research, Statement of Purpose, funding, itinerary and co-travellers. A consular officer may seek to investigate or verify issues such as:
- Employment of an applicant
- Tax filings or information pension fund payments; authenticity of an education document
- Intentions or existence of a sponsor in the US.
- Authenticity of a statutory document, such as a marriage, birth, or divorce certificate.
- Legitimacy of a marriage
Sometimes you are asked to furnish additional documents, which may include:
- A police verification certificate that confirms the residence of the applicant after the age of 16;
- Certified copies of court dispositions (arrests, convictions); confirmation of the date of a past departure from the US (e.g. visa overstay);
- If working professional, then employer tax documentation; additional affidavit of support (e.g., if consular officer does not accept the submitted affidavit of support);
- Financial documents to sponsor the education of applicant in a US university;
- Additional information about the program to be studied in the US.
Sometimes, even though all your documentation and information is correct, you may end up with the section 221(g) letter. In such a scenario, the investigations that were carried out may have been inaccurate. For example, a consular officer may mistakenly believe that an applicant has a background in a technology that is on the Technology Alert List; a consular investigator may visit the wrong office address; a secretary who picks up the phone at the applicant’s place of employment may tell the consular caller that no such person works there when in fact the applicant does work there; a consular officer may be attempting to re-adjudicate a previously-approved employment petition by requiring additional documentation or sending it back to USCIS.
Therefore, being proactive in dealing with a 221(g) decision by a consular officer will benefit you by resolving the issue at the earliest. It is advocated that applicants should not only cooperate with reasonable consular requests but should also seek to aggressively challenge unreasonable requests or demands and extended delays in processing.
To provide the required information or documentations, you should submit the same at the nearest CGI document pickup location within one year from the date you received the 221(g) letter. Failing this, you will be required to submit a fresh visa application and pay all associated fees in order to continue with your visa application process.
Submission of 221(g) documents:
- Print a Document Submission Letter and complete the checklist manually.
- Visit the nearest Common Gateway Interface (CGI) document pickup location. Carry your 221(g) submission slip, the 221(g) letter given to you at the Embassy or Consulate, and all documents requested in your 221(g) letter.
- Submit your documents and the 221(g) submission slip at the CGI document collection office. CGI will acknowledge the 221(g) submission slip for you to keep for your records.
- CGI delivers your documents to the Embassy or Consulate.
- CGI returns your documents and your passport to you at your chosen document delivery pickup location. If the visa is issued, your passport will contain your visa or alternatively, you may also receive a new 221(g) letter.
Now that you have understood about Section 221(g), dealing with it would not be a major challenge. Meet our expert counsellors today, who have a 100% success rate on conversion of the observation under section 221(g) to an F1 visa holder. Visit our centers for abroad career counseling today and we will help resolve any issues on your visa applications and 221(g) status.