E3 Visa & H1B Visa “Administrative Processing” Refusal at US Consulate

In general for most people once an potential employer sponsor in the US has agreed to hire a foreigner under the E3 Visa, H1B visa or L1 Visa, the hard part has been done. This also applies to the K1 Visa for Marriage.

As with the H1B visa and L1 visa, petitions and forms have to filed and approved at the USCIS and Department of Labor and with the E3 visa at the Department of Labor only, so a lot of the vetting has already been done. Then of course employers if they are planning to go through the time, expense and hassle of hiring a foreigner, they themselves are going to make sure most of the time, that the employer is a legitimate candidate with relevant experience and qualifications.

So going to the US Consulate interview, while in many ways seeming like a big deal to the candidate because of the formality, seriousness and security of the process, ends up being just a routine with at the most and most a few hours wasted in the room waiting. Therefore actually getting the E3 visa or H1B visa stamp in the passport is the last step in the process before flying to the US to begin their new career.

However for some unfortunate candidates it is not so simple and the process at the US consulate takes a lot longer under the title of “administrative processing” under condition 221(g).

For a few of this group it is partly or fully their own fault as they have forgotten documents they were supposed to bring or to pay relevant fees. Usually in these instances, it just requires another US consulate visa appointment or even a quick dash out to get things and pay the relevant costs, returning the same day to continue the interview albeit with going to back of the queue.

Also in some instance people have lied about their experience, qualifications and/or circumstances and/or their employer has to some degree and this is noticed or suspected by the US conular officer. In these cases the administrative processing that follows will ultimately result in a visa denial or occasionally and instant denial at the US consulate.

(To Note visa like the F1 visa or J1 visa tend not to have this issue. Of course you can still be denied for these visas, but it tends to be instant at the US consulate as the USCIS is generally not involved in these petitions)

However in most cases the “administrative processing” or condition 221(g) is a lot more grey and is often as a result of a very particular case officer hesitation due to some aspect of the application. These can include;

  1. Unsure about the company as never sponsored a foreigner before and/or is a smaller organization or possibly operates in an industry field not usually associated with the professional work visa like E3, H1B and L1
  2. Unsure about the job offer as it sounds like a non-professional or specialty role which may not require a bachelors degree not usually associated with the E3 visa, H1B visa or L1 visa
  3. Unsure about the candidate as either their something amiss about their qualifications and experience and how it relates to the role they are about to fulfill or about their personal background from a security/character/criminal standpoint or for the E3 visa whether they intend to return home
  4. Unsure about the nature of a dependent on the visa petition

The problem is at this point if a candidate receives a letter or notification under “administrative processing” 221 (g) that they lose complete control over the process. Whether their case will take a 1 week or 4 months is really dependent on the individual US consulate, what the backlog is at the time, mailing times, whether the processing will happen locally or be sent back to the US, public holidays and of course the nature of the individual case.

Additionally in most instances there is no way to get extra information until the US consulate contacts you with an update or request for more information or in any way to find out how long the process is going to take. This of course can complete ruin a potential work position, as many employers in the US are unlikely to hold open a role indefinitely with no guarantee of success or timeliness. Then of course individuals and families have also no doubt made travel plans and paid costs and begun to wind down local life so can cause a lot of heartache and financial pain as well.

This is a clear example of the US Immigration system for Legal Immigrants being completely unfair and in need of complete reform. However in the new immigration laws proposed by members of congress, things like this are never discussed as that would be too practical and not score any political points! This aspect and many like it is why the Legal Immigration mess feeds into and causes Illegal Immigration problems for the US.

Sometimes US consulates when required don’t even send the “diplomatic pouch” which carries the case documents back to the US straight away and collect other cases from their particular US consulate and others in the area or country prior to sending it back. This of courses further delay along with the fact the USCIS who re-process these cases often view this as low priority cases to evaluate.
In truth this process should only be used sparingly by US consular officials as in many cases just duplicating work already done by other US Government agencies as well as the Private employer.

I wish I could give more hope and insight to the process for people in this situation but it is a veyr mysterious process and this is all that is really known about it. All I can hope is that you never be subject to condition 221 (g) and administrative processing!



66 thoughts on “E3 Visa & H1B Visa “Administrative Processing” Refusal at US Consulate

  1. Hi ,

    my h1b visa is approved after 2 years pending with the US consulate .
    i got the passport and the expiry date on the visa is 31/july/2009 as my employer filed the petition in 2007.

    My question is how long can i stay on this visa as the initial visa is for 3 years ?


  2. Hi SSP,
    I am glad your H1B is approved after all this time and I hope your potential employer still wants you. However you said the expiry date on the visa is July 2009, which is in the past. If the expiry date is in the past you wont be able to enter the US and will need a new visa. The H1B visa expiry date on the stamp is how long you are able to stay and can be up to a maximum of 3 years from issue.

  3. hi ,

    sorry , its 31/july/2010.

    how can i extend my stay ?

    My employer told me its not a problem , it can be easily extendable.


  4. Hey Chris, Great post!

    I just wanted to add that AP is also used heavily for security checks and applicants from the T (for Terrorist!) countries are far more likely to go in to AP for a name check. For instance, I was born in Pakistan but moved to the UK when I was 8, and I’ve been a British Citizen with a British passport since 2005. But at the embassy they asked me just one or two short, simple questions and put me straight in to AP.

    My lawyer says this is due to a name check, since they didn’t ask to see my I-129 petition or my degree or any other docs. Apparently a lot of people with muslim/arab names go through the same process.

    Hopefully the process won’t take two years (!!) but anyone applying for an immigrant or non immigrant visa should definitely keep in mind the delays caused by AP, especially if they’re from Pakistan/Syria/Saudi/Afghanistan/Iran etc…

  5. Hi Hamza,

    My husband had his interview for the L1 A visa on the 10th Oct and his visa has been delayed by AP. It’s been 9 days now and still no news. Funny thing is he was given the go ahead and told to stand in the que and was called back because he shares the same name with someone on their hit list.

    Have you heard back from them yet?

    Patiently waiting!

  6. Hi B Master,
    This is not an official site anyway just an information, reference and community site for people like you. Administrative Processing is not a fun thing and can take anywhere up to 6 months even, if the application is sent back to the US. Hopefully given it seems like they are just checking his smae they will do it within the country you applied for your L1 visa but there is nothing you can really do but wait unfortunately.
    Good Luck,

  7. hi CJ,

    i am going to U.S. in december. As my visa expires in july/2010. And my employer will definately extend my visa. Should i buy one way ticket to U.S.
    or a return ticket . Is there any problem with one way ticket at the port of entry ?


  8. HI SSP,
    It is an interesting question as it is very arbitrary how it is applied. In most cases you should be fine with just a one way ticket as it is not really something that is checked at the Port of Entry by Customs. However it can be one of those things they may ask about for arbitrary reasons depending on what country your passport is. Most likely though you will be fine as I have never heard of someone being refused entry at the border for no return ticket.
    Good Luck,

  9. Hi CJ,

    I’ve been offered part time work 20 hrs a week in a field related to my degree. The employer (also an Australian) believes it’s possible to get an E3 for part time work – but I can’t find any info confirming this. Does it have to be a full time position or can you work part time on the E3?


  10. Hi Cc123,
    You certainly can be employed Part Time on the E3 visa. It just needs to be approved as such on the LCA with the Department of Labor just like a full time role and you may get asked during your US consulate interview about how you might support yourself only working part time.
    Good Luck,

  11. i CJ,

    Mate thanks for putting up all this info. I just realised that you mentioned on the website that you’d provide an example of what you’d be putting as your visa status for E3 and where on your resume, but i can’t find the example that you referred to on your website. Is there anyway you could indicate that? Thanks alot.

  12. hi guys,
    I was given AP letter when i went to US embassy for C1D1 sea crew visa. My employer expect me to start the job end of Feb 2010.I’m originally from Africa but hold a British passport since April 2009. Should I start looking for another job just incase the case took longer?

  13. Hi Suv,
    Given your type of employment and the fact the boat will set sail on a set date, it may be wise to at least look for another job as the whole Administrative processing is so unknown. Sometimes it is quick in the sense of a couple of weeks but there is unfortunately no way to truly know how long it will take.
    Good Luck,

  14. Hi CJ,
    My H1B got stuck in Admin processing in Sept 09, somehow got to know that its stuck somewhere with Washington, people say that it will take its own sweet time. The only thing that concerns me is that – I was given a case ID during interview and told that I can track the same on the website. Even after 4 months my case ID is not listed on the website ! Can this be a situation where my case is somehow lying unattended somewhere? Washington (some agency there) might not have received the case for processing at all.. and here the consulate is under impression that it is being processed ! Please guide.

  15. Hi Raj,
    Unfortunately with all things related to Administrative Processing it is a real unknown and there is not much you can do to either find out more information or speed up the process. The only thing you can try is contact your US consulate and say your Case ID doesn’t work but they may just say that it is being processed. I am sorry I can’t be more helpful but administrative processing is one of the worst aspects of the US Immigration system that needs to be fixed immediately.
    Good Luck,

  16. Hi CJ, If you travel to the States on the Visa Waiver, then go to a US Consulate in Canada for the E3 Visa interview and are either denied the visa or it is in processing, can you then return to the US for the remaining days of your Visa Waiver to collect your belongings? Also how safe is it to have your passport posted to a hotel in Canada if you have gone there just for the visa application? I’m worried about the timing as you are only allowed into the US within 10 days of starting a job, so unsure how you factor in how long the visa takes to process and approve. Thanks

  17. Hi SR,
    If you are denied a visa albeit in Canada or Australia and them immediately do the ESTA online for the Visa Waiver program, you will likely be denied. As in theory the fact that you applied for a US visa will technically make your Visa Waiver null and void. However in practice this is very grey and am sure different people have different experiences depending on the consular officer at the border. I mean having a passport posted to an address like a Hotel is as safe as any other mail as long as you know they will accept mail on your behalf and that you will be there to receive it. The visa processing usually takes 1-2 days to process and then express mail is another day so is quick unless there is a problem with the company, the job or yourself. So the 10 days wont be an issue in most cases. Anyway the date they will put on your visa will be the current date so you would likely not be entering early anyway.
    Good Luck,

  18. Hi Cj,
    I will visit India next month and I have to appear for visa interview again for my HIB enewal. Last year I was stuck in India 1 months due to the administrative processing. My question is there also any chance for that kind of thing this time?

  19. Hi DJ Bose,
    Yes there is always a chance of Administrative Processing for anybody. Hopefully if you are working for the same company and they checked everything they needed to last year with your administrative processing, you will have no issue this time. I have never heard of people going through it more than once personally.
    Good Luck,

  20. Hi, last July I paid for l1 premium processing in The states via my Florida attorney.
    This was approved by uscis and granted from the end of August.
    At my London embassy interview in early September I was told my application needed “administrative processing”!
    The interview lasted aprox 30 secs in contrast to the 5 hour wait.
    This was a complete shock and inevitabley resulted in a lot of heartache, expense and uncertainty (the flight to move was booked for the following week).
    Around march time we found out that the embassy had returned the application to uscis recommending it not be approved and should be reviews.
    Uscis, asked for further supporting info which we sent. They have now reaffirmed their approval and have sent it back to London for “action”!

    My problem is, I am going to Florida on fri for 7 days on holiday. On the Esta application I answered “no” to the ever been denied a visa question. It approved the application instantly. I’m assuming I’m correct in my answer as I have not been formally denied while it is still pending 10 months later!
    Am I correct or am I likely to have any problems?
    Please help, I go in 2 days!

  21. Hey!

    I’m from Pakistan and will be starting my post grad medical training in the US soon hopefully. My H1b visa was approved by the US embassy a couple of weeks ago but as expected has been subjected to administrative processing.

    I have two questions.

    1. Is there some official website where I can find out the status of my application/visa?

    2. Is there a way to estimate the time it would take for administrative processing? Previously it took 3 months for my F1 visa (7 years ago) and then 4 months for my B1/B2 visa which was issued 5 years ago. I’ve been to the US six times since then.

    Would really appreciate a prompt reply.


  22. Hi Graeme,
    Yes you are experience the frustrating and annoying story of many around the world that is both not very explainable and unacceptable. However there is no recourse (unless you happen to personally know US consular officials who could research on your behalf) and you just have to wait it out. The way you answered the ESTA application is correct, however they do generally advise not to travel if you have a pending non-immigrant visa application as well. Hopefully you had no issues.

  23. Hi AK,
    I am sorry you have had to go through this terrible process so many times and admire your patience and perseverance and one day it will all work out for you. There is no website you can find any information on administrative processing, nor estimate the time. Your guess and experience so far is the best estimate you have and given they have checked you twice already and approved you, hopefully it will be no longer than your other times.

  24. Hi,
    I attended my B1 visa interview on May24 2010. It is in AP now. They said it will take 4 weeks min,, Its been 4 weeks already,,, But the passport is with consulate.. I am in a idea of changing the employer. how to get back my passport from us consulate? CUrrently they said, passport will be sent to my cuurent company…

    Please any one give a suggestion???


  25. Hi,

    I have appeared for L1B interview on Jul22 at Hyderabad US Consulate in India. I got the 221(g) form and she gave me one form to fill the details about educational & experience details. And she kept my passport also. Any idea, what would be the reason for this? And in general how much time it will take for this kind of cases to complete the administrative processing?

    Thanks in Advance,


  26. hello… i was being interviewed before 3 months……..VO didnt ask me for any doc. she kept my passport i20 and a photo…. Case is in AP. what are the chances… and how long it will take.. and what are they doing with my case… i had sent emails but they didnt answered me anything..they didnt reply me……


  27. Hi,

    Just want to share below inormation with you guys.
    I have gone through this terrible processing 3 times before in last 3 yrs and my application is again sent for administrative processing for fourth time now.
    This time just wanted to change my employer and got badly stuck with this processing its 2 1/2 months now and still waiting…

  28. hi i had an interview at us embassy in lebanon . She asked me and she took the documents from me . And then she gave me refusal worksheet and it said my application require administrative processing i asked if that mean there’s any problem , she said no everything is fine waiting to complete processing . Can i get idea what’s that mean ? How long it would take ? Thanks alot

  29. I have got AP few days back from chennai consulate.They have retained my passport, my case number is ending with 10.For most of them it is ending with 1 and for few ranges from 1 to 30.
    Can anybody suggest what kind of check is this and how much time it will take for them to return my passport.
    Is there any chance of rejection

  30. Hi,

    I had an interview at US consulate in chennai on nov12th, everything went fine but visa officer issued Pink sheet stating that some administrative proccessing has to be completed and they have retained my passport. how long will it take for AP and when will i get back my passport? does case number has any significance, my case number ends with 390 1

  31. Hi Mohamed,
    If you want your passport back you have to ask them for it but this Administrative Processing period will be on your record and may happen again with any future visa application.

  32. Hi,
    B1 visa was refused twice for me in between sept-oct 2010, now im working in same company and applying for L1, im just 10 months old in the company.

    My questions are

    1. Can i start L1 application process? ( cuz it will take 4-8 weeks and i will be completing 1 year by jan mid)

    2. My B1 visa refusal will act in any manner for L1 process?

    thanks a ton in advance….

  33. Day no 131
    But no response from Islamabad Embassy:(
    Any suggestion what can i do…


  34. CJ
    I was interviewed in July 2010, I got pink 221g for AP. Recently I send them email and I got a standard reply from them.

    Dear Sir:

    Greetings from the Nonimmigrant Visa Section of U.S. Consulate General Mumbai.

    Please follow the instructions below in order to continue processing your pending visa application further.

    You DO NOT require scheduling another appointment. If you were issued a white/ blue pending letter at the interview, please visit the Consulate General any business day at 9.30 am with your pending letter, passport, courier envelope and other documents pertaining to your visa application.

    However, if you were issued a yellow / green pending letter at the interview, you will need to submit your passport, pending letter and the courier envelope to the Consulate General via any of the VFS offices. Please carry a copy of this email for ready reference.

    Please note that this email communication does not confirm that your visa is issued at this time.

    Thank you,


    Now I have submitted the passport but still I am waiting for something to happen. Do you have any idea how long it’s gonna take further for approval. Can they still deny visa at this stage?

    Thank you

  35. Hi All,

    I have been waiting since Mid of july 2010.
    Called many times to Islamabad consulate but always same reply “you are in AP…”:)


  36. I attended the interview at US consulate, chennai for H1B-Extn on 15-Dec-2010 and got the pink slip for AP. My case id/Batch number is still appearing in the pdf case report.
    Why the case id is not updated in the pdf status report?


  37. AOA,
    Hope everybody doing fine with grace of ALLAH

    Story of last week or so.

    I call Islamabad, Officer asked me call again tomorrow!
    I called again next day and asked about my status he replied “we will let you know in 2 weeks …” I said is there any update in my case, he doesn’t replayed… and said call again after 2 weeks.


    Just to check I call DOC and asked for status of my case, officer said that your case is in AP.
    Any idea what is going to be happened or nothing…
    By the way it is been 6 months since interview (my interview was pretty straight forward).

    Please comment


  38. AOA/Hi,

    Receipt Date: April 20, 2009
    Notice Date: July 2, 2009
    Valid From October 1, 2009
    To August 31, 2012
    Interview Date: July 16, 2010
    Approval Date: July 16, 2010

    Received a Letter from Consulate highlighted following clause:
    Letter Received after AP: January 10, 2010

    The petition is being returned to USCIS for further review. Upon completion of the review, USCIS will contact your petitioner. Please wait for a notification from the Consulate before returning.

    Please Guide! No call from employer or USCIS


  39. Hi CJ,
    please if any one can assist me….
    i have found this website and seams really interesting and i feel i will get the assistance here. I am originally from INDIA and now Australian Citizen aged around 27yrs.
    My H1b approved in oct2008 and i went for an interview at sydney office and they have asked me to provide additional documents for the company as it was small company.
    I sent the documents as required. and they replied to uscis on jan2009 that my employer doesnt seam capable to hire me and provided documents are not correct. We have provided the documents as required and same as when applied for the H1B. And as per my employer my H1B has been revoked
    So untill now, i had been working in australia and became citizen. I have recently visited US on visa waiver program and during my stay i decided to find a job in LA. So i resigned from my job in Sydney and started applying few jobs based in LA. and ONE of the small CPA firm had agreed to sponsor H1B which has just been approved.
    As this is a small CPA firm with around 4-5 employees and which doesnt have any online websites. i need advice the chances to get visa approved and what should i will be bringing along during the interview………. also need advice for the expected visa interview questions and answers
    Thank you

  40. hi.. please.. anyone who can give me answers..
    I had my H1b interview last dec. 6, 2010. unfortunately I missed an information in my contract with my employer regarding my salary thus was not able to answer it correctly during my interview with the consul.. I was then asked to wait for somebody to escort me inside embassy office. I was brought to the Fraud Prevention Unit (FPU). An investigator (i think) interviewed me.. before the interview started I was able to clarify info regarding my salary and apologized that I did not mean to give wrong information to the consul. The interview lasted for 3 hrs and even asked me to come back the following week to bring a certain document. I then came back in the fraud prevention unit office and was interviewed again from 9 am to 3 pm. All the questions and my statements were printed and they let me sign it and swear to the consul in the office. I was told that the sworn statement will be forwarded to the consul who initially interviewed me since he has the authority to decide regarding my visa. They told me to just wait for a call. I was not handed of any document after the interview. I do not know un der what process is my visa application now.

    Am I under Administrative review aswell?

    Thank you.

  41. Hi Piolo,
    Your case seems like it under some sort of review while they are probably checking your company and filed application with the Department of Labor for your job. Hopefully it is quick and all works out for you.
    Good Luck,

  42. Hi PV,
    Well if you are now an Australian citizen you can have your employer sponsor you under the E3 visa or H1B visa. However in either case just follow the process as normal and be truthful in your application and your interview and hopefully all works out.

  43. Hi CJ,

    thank you very much. hopefully everything turns out well with everybody here. let’s keep praying. btw, this site is very helpful.


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