Dealing with 221(g) Issues from the Consulate

Dealing with 221(g) Issues from the Consulate

In this week’s article, we explore one common issue that happens to noncitizens seeking entry into the United States from abroad.


In this week’s article, we explore one common issue that happens to noncitizens seeking entry into the United States from abroad. For those noncitizens who have received an I-130 or I-140 approval and have a current priority date, many of them have to undergo processing at a U.S. consulate or embassy in their home country.

One issue they may run into is a hold under 221(g) of the Immigration and Nationality Act.

In some ways, an administrative hold under 221(g) of the Act is similar to a Request for Evidence (“RFE”) response that USCIS utilizes when a visa petition lacks supporting evidence. The consulate or embassy can use 221(g) to place an administrative hold to request documents related to statements made in the support letter, information made on the USCIS Forms, or for other reasons. For example, some H-1B visa seekers may have to explain projects they have worked on, large spans of unemployment in their work histories, or specific projects they intend to work on for other reasons. In other cases, a 221(g) hold may be placed for medical or criminal reasons.

The first step the noncitizen should do is to seek the advice of a competent immigration attorney, especially for complicated 221(g) issues. The noncitizen should then contact the embassy that issued the 221(g) hold to find out what the exact procedure is to alleviate that hold. Sometimes, this can be resolved mostly through email. Other times, more specific instructions must be followed, such as an interview or awaiting for processing from another government agency. Also, every embassy is different in their procedures and can differ from country by country or even by local region. It is important that the noncitizen and his or her immigration attorney remain fully informed and work together to resolve the 221(g) issue.

Once the procedures have been clarified, it is up to the client and the attorney to marshal the appropriate documents together and draft an appropriate response. Assembling the documents may take months in situations where the attorney and/or noncitizen have to coordinate with employers, medical professionals, police departments, courts, federal government agencies, or any other third-parties that may have records relating to the 221(g) issue. The immigration attorney may then draft an appropriate response summarizing all of the information.

If you have questions about your 221(g) hold or if you have immigration questions in general, contact our office today to speak with attorney-at-law Sweta Khandelwal.

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