Integrity Legal

15th Dec 2009

When visa applications are submitted they process through the US Immigration system. The process depends upon the type of visa being sought. In situations in which applicants are seeking a K1 visa, K3 visa, CR1 visa, or IR1 visa the process is often routine, but many get through the entire process to find themselves confronted with a 221(g) refusal. AILA recently distributed an article dealing with this issue as it now has an impact upon those who utilize the Visa Waiver program and ESTA (the Electronic System for Travel Authorization) when traveling to the USA. To quote the publication’s section on 221(g) refusals:

“Section 221(g) of the INA provides for a temporary refusal when an otherwise qualified visa applicant is found to be lacking a specific document, or when a consular officer determines that additional security clearance is required. Consular officers beneficially use 221(g) as a way of affording applicants every opportunity to supplement their applications in order to address concerns – such as possible fraud – that arise at the visa interview. Once the deficiency is satisfied, or the concern resolved, 221(g) refusal is “overcome” and the visa may be issued.”

221(g) denials can truly be a boon to both the Consular Officer and the Immigration attorney as it provides a clear indication of what needs to be presented in order to facilitate visa issuance. That being said, Consular Officers can re-issue 221(g) refusals, but this rarely occurs as many officers seem to make a point of ensuring that all other documents are compiled before issuing an initial 221(g).

Many people wish to know information regarding common reasons for 221(g) refusal. AILA provides a brief overview of the common reasons for this type of denial. To further quote the aforementioned publication:

“1. The applicant is asked to provide additional supporting documents, such as proof of local employment;
2. The applicant is employed in a field listed on the Technology Alert List (TAL) and the consular officer requests a Visas Mantis Security Advisory Opinion (“SAO”). (This is one of the most common scenarios in which applicants in India, China and elsewhere are told their applications require “administrative processing.”)
3. The consular officer requests an Advisory Opinion from the Visa Office on the applicability of one of the statutory grounds of inadmissibility.
4. There are no empty visa pages in the applicant’s passport, or the application photograph does not meet quality standards.
5. The applicant’s petition approval is not yet listed in PIMS.”

In many cases, 221(g) refusals are routine and they usually do not have a detrimental impact upon travelers to the USA. However, in recent months it has been announced that the Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Service treats 221g refusals as denials when posing the question “have you ever been denied a visa to the USA” on the ESTA registration form. It would appear that the ESTA system “red flags” those who have been “denied” a prior visa and asks that some of these applicants receive an actual visa (in most cases a US tourist visa) before traveling to the USA which could cause delays to those wishing to enter the country.

Currently, the Kingdom of Thailand does not participate in the American Visa Waiver Program so this issue with CBP will have little impact for Thai nationals traveling to the United States. However, people in Thailand who hold the nationality of a country which participates in the Visa Waiver Program may be effected by this new regulation if they are presented with a 221(G) denial by a Consular Officer at the US Embassy in Bangkok.

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