Visa Refusal under INA 214(b), 221g, and Administrative Processing
The US Embassy refuse visa applications for a myriad of reasons. US consular officers review the documents, investigate the individual’s background, and conduct a personal interview to evaluate whether a visa applicant is eligible. When an immigrant visa case is not approved the applicant is issued a 221(g) or “blue sheet” indicating the evidence submitted was insufficient. When a non-immigrant visa is not approved, it’s basically due to the requirements of section 214b, wherein the applicant did not have evidence of strong ties to a residence abroad to compel the applicant to return home after a short, temporary visit. Administrative processing is sometimes equivalent to a 221(g) refusal as the consular officer was unable to approve the case based on the evidence submitted, or a discrepancy was discovered requiring additional time to investigate. Administrative processing cases may languish in visa purgatory for a long time.
Section 214(b) is part of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA). Most visa applicants apply for a tourist visa or a student visa in this category. To qualify for a visitor or student visa, a prospective visitor or student applicant must meaningful evidence of funding, valid purpose of the trip, and strong ties in a residence abroad to compel the applicant to return to after the visit.
The most frequent basis for such a refusal concerns the requirement that the prospective visitor or student possess a residence abroad he/she has no intention of abandoning. Applicants prove the existence of such residence by demonstrating that they have ties abroad that would compel them to leave the U.S. at the end of the temporary stay. Evidence of “strong ties” may be illustrated by consistent and steady history of employment, sufficient collateral or property ownership to cover travel expenses, and a succinct and sincere reason for the visit. These are compelling factors the consular officered consider when evaluating an applicant’s eligibility for the visa. The brief interview with the applicant is also valuable in the consular officer’s decision to approve or deny the visa.
U.S. consulates abroad have been known to deny visas based upon INA Section 221(g) even after the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has approved a petition for the visa application.
In a 221(g) case, the consular officers determine that the requirements for a petition-based visa are not met by an applicant. They can refuse to issue the visa under Section 221(g). When they do so, they also request that the USCIS revoke the petition that was approved earlier.
Even though the USCIS has the primary authority to determine whether or not a person meets the requirements for a particular, petition-based visa classification, the consulate may reach a different conclusion and request that the USCIS reconsider its original approval of a petition. What can happen is that new, negative information can come to light at the time of the interview and the interviewing consular officer may conclude that the visa applicant either does not appear to meet the requirements of a fiancé/e. Essentially the fiance(e) did not convince the consular officer that the relationship is bona fide and possibly a sham marriage entered into to circumvent US Immigration law. Cases issued 221(g) are equivalent to a denial, however, some languish in visa purgatory similar to administrative processing.
In cases pending in Administrative Processing (AP) the consular officer may need more time to review the case before determining whether the applicant is eligible for the visa. In immigrant visa cases such as the fiance(e) visa, the consular officer may conclude at the interview that there’s not enough convincing evidence to deny the case nor approve it, there may be some red flag issue, or a discrepancy in the case to warrant a secondary review. Cases in AP may take months to conclude, however, in this writer’s experience, providing additional compelling evidence of the bona fides of the applicant’s relationship to the American petition may assist the consular officer in making a definitive decision in the case.
AP is a state of flux that leaves applicants frustrated and confused as there’s no definitive guidelines as to what the immigration issues are and whether the applicants can do anything to compel the consular officer to issue the visa. It is within the discretion of the consular officer to hold the case and investigate it further, thereby leaving the applicant with neither an approval nor denial.
Whether the case is issued a 214(b), 221(g) or placed in administrative processing, a competent immigration attorney should be able to review the case and provide the best course of action based on the applicant’s unique sets of facts. Consular processing attorneys are in a highly advantageous position to assist since they are able to inquire directly with the consulate and embassy where the applicant’s case was denied.