Integrity Legal

1st December 2010

Those who frequently read this blog are likely to note that we frequently discuss issues surrounding Consular processing of US visa applications. In some cases, a visa applicant is refused a visa, but issued what is commonly referred to as a 221(g) form. The term “221g” refers to section 221(g) of the United States Immigration and Nationality Act. Under this provision of the Immigration and Nationality Act, a Consular Officer adjudicating a visa application may refuse to issue a visa if the adjudicating Consular officer finds that the application is somehow deficient of documentation. Consular Officers are basically tasked with the responsibility of conducting due diligence regarding a visa applicant’s subjective intentions. Therefore, in a K1 visa interview the Consular Officer may be concerned with the Cambodian applicant’s subjective intentions regarding the K1 visa petitioner.

There is some debate as to the legal ramifications of a 221g especially in the context of the United States Visa Waiver Program. The American visa waiver program allows certain foreign nationals to enter the USA without a visa provided those individuals register on the Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA). Although Cambodia is not currently a participating country in the Visa Waiver program it should be noted that a 221g refusal issued by a US Consulate or US Embassy abroad should be disclosed in the ESTA system when seeking travel authorization online. Therefore, a 221g refusal is effectively treated as a “denial” by the Department of Homeland Security which should be noted by anyone seeking American immigration benefits at an American Mission abroad since such a development could have an adverse impact upon one options at a later date.

Many are under the mistaken impression that a 221(g) refusal cannot be remedied. In point of fact, this is not the case as some 221g refusals simply require further documentation before a Consular Officer is prepared to make an adjudication in the underlying application. That said, in some cases, a 221g could evolve into a legal finding of inadmissibility which is an outright visa denial. In such cases, a visa applicant may be able to have the legal grounds of inadmissibility waived through use of an I-601 waiver of inadmissibility. That said, such waivers are adjudicated by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service under an “extreme hardship” standard of review. This “extreme hardship” standard can be difficult to overcome for some. In any event, many couples find that the assistance of an American attorney can be beneficial during the US visa process or the I-601 waiver process as such an individual can provide insight into the process and advocate on behalf of the petitioner and beneficiary. Furthermore, some find that an attorney’s assistance can result in smoother overall processing of visa applications as such an individual can foresee issues which may arise in a given case and attempt to deal with such issues before they become a problem.

Receiving a 221g refusal letter after the visa interview can be worrying, but in some cases the issue can be resolved through better understanding of the adjudication process and relevant United States Immigration law. Those who receive a 221g refusal at the US Embassy in Cambodia are likely required to follow up within 1 year of issuance lest the visa application be deemed to have been abandoned.

For related information please see: US Visa Cambodia.


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