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,
    Here for an inquiry again. I still have no news from the embassy regarding my visa. What my employer did was they filed an amended petition under premium processing and was approved. In othr words, I’m waiting now for an intervw sched for the amended petition though there is still a hanging visa processing in the embassy (pls refer to my previous message for my case status). In that status, how will the hanging visa affect the approved amended petition? I’m thinking, since the USCIS approved the amended petition, maybe the first petition will not cause any conflict or they might have disregarded it. Correct me pls.

    Another thing, my passport is still in the embassy, how can I get it? I am also nervous when I’ll have my interview again. It’s like I’m having near phobia since i was brought and interogated in the fraud prevention unit. Please help me answer my questions and kindly picture out what could happen when i’ll have my interview in the embassy. Thank you very much.


  2. Hi CJ,

    Ur website is very informative. i wanted to ask u a question..

    My fiancee who holds a H1B visa is being put under AP since sept 2010..Hes doing his residency and is a doc wid a hosp in New York and had cum to India for a vacation of 4 weeks n he was goin to go back by Oct..

    But since last 8months he is stil in the country..We are very stressed pls lemme knu if theres sum way v can find a solution as v r very tensed now..His residency has been increased by one more year and v hope his visa doesnt get refused..

    At the consulate he was being told that his visa has been approved but they have kept passport for AP..His immigration lawyer in US said AP generally takes 6-8months but can u pls give me more info on this…He had submitted all reqd documents and even holds a PR of canada..

    Thankin you

  3. Hi,

    I am renewing my E3 visa and i keep hearing different stories on the London Embassy. Some forums recommend the London Emabassy while my employer does not.

    Can anyone confirm if they have had success and the turnaround time.

  4. I am in a situation in which i have been given an administrative processing 221(g) case status by the US embassy in my country. However, my US employers and I are considering a fresh application in another Country as i am out there working in that country.

    Is this possible or there is a negative impact if i go ahead?

  5. I had my H1B Visa interview on 12th August in Islamabad. The consular retained my I-797, Passports, I-129 copy etc with her and told me that my case was being forwarded for AP. Interestingly, she did not give me any receipt or form and encouraged me to track through the Islamabad Embassy email.

  6. Dear All,
    Hopefully you will be doing fine!
    I applied for H1-B 2.5 years back, my interview was straight forward.

    AFTER 6 months: Embassy returned me all my documents (including passport) saying that
    “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 Embassy before returning.”

    AFTER 7 months of above: USCIS asked my petitioner for the revocation of visa but my petitioner didn’t and try to prove that he need me in USA.

    Since then no answer from USCIS.

    My notification will expire in 6 months.
    I myself considered that no visa for me…but my petitioner saying that since the case has not been denied, it must be active. If there is an undue delay we will have recourse to reapplying for the same in the future…

    Any Advise!


    I had my E3 (Skilled worker) Visa interview on 13th of Feb 2012 in Islamabad alongwith my spouse and 2 year old son. The consular office ask few question and after that he give us green 221(g) slip. i am very confuse about wait time i ask him how much time AP will take he replied it will take 2 week to 29 month????

  8. I attended my vissa interview on 1st of August 2012 . i am told by VO – that they would be reviewing the case and will contact me if anything is reqd and will take 1 week time and issued with the case number. He kept my passport , job description , LCA , I-129 and letter to USCIS….what would be the consequence ? he told a weeks time , is that really gonna be a week or more ?

  9. Hi

    I had my e-3 interview recently and was asked two questions – what my role is and how long have I worked with the employer for. Then I was handed the “have you been approved” info sheet and the officer kept my passport. I asked how I could track it and he said you’ll receive an email. It’s been more than 5 working days and the case is still showing AP. How long more should I wait before making inquiries and whether I should at all? The usual processing time listed for the consulate is 2-3 days. Thanks

  10. Hi,

    My fiancee who is an Australian Permanent Citizen working for in USA on contract basis.

    His USA VISA will expire on 23rd Feb,2016.

    He applied for renewal for USA VISA and said it is on hold in Administrative Process.

    Marriage is on Jan 1st,2016 and at this stage can he travel to India.

  11. Thanks, but the list of when the 221(g) letter is received is incomplete.

    I have had two E-3 visas, and both times had to undergo administrative processing. The first time it took six weeks (both my wife and I), the second time it took one month. I am going through the same process again, though for a different visa.

    The reason is because my job falls under the technology alert list, i.e. technology that has potential dual intent (military + civilian), which requires the US consular post to seek a security clearance in DC. This applies to virtually all practicing scientists, engineers, doctors, etc. This process takes about a month apparently (if there are no issues) as of late 2015 although I am referring to Sydney consulate.

    Also, keep in mind that though security clearances are valid for over 12 months in many cases, if you change your visa type by law the consular post will request a new security clearance and you will be placed under administrative processing again.


  12. Hi CJ,

    I applied for the E3 visa in Perth. Now the status is “Administrative Processing” as my job offer doesn’t include the job responsibilities.

    Now can I submit a new visa application in Sydney Office with the corrected details?

    Please let me know

    Thank you


  13. I had my E-3 visa interview on Monday. They did they interview, then told me I was missing a signature on my LCA form. I was worried, they said it was an “easy fix” and handed me a green 221(g) and told me to email the signed LCA form to the email address on the form. They held onto my visa and DS-160, and told me they would approve me and get my passport back within 10 days.
    I emailed the LCA signed the next day, but have received no follow-up to confirm they got it and cannot get in contact. I checked my status on CEAC and it says “Administrative Processing”.. not sure if I should be worried? Should I still trust what the Visa Officer told me? I have a return flight booked but not really sure what to do- just wait and hope or try to get more information?
    Any advice would really be appreciated!

  14. Hi – I hold an E3 visa at the moment and I have some concerns which I do not wish to publish publicly until I have spoken to somebody one on one. Is it possible to discuss by email or by phone my concerns to see if you are able to help?

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