221g, 221(g) Denials

221(g) You have been found Ineligible

The Consulate General is unable to issue a visa to you because you have been found ineligible under the following section (s) of the U.S. immigration and Nationality Act (INA). Section 221(g) of the Act prohibits the issuance of a visa to anyone who has failed to present documents required in connection with the visa application or who has failed to submit sufficient credible evidence to support the claimed petitioner relationship.

This was on the letter Belinda’s fiance sent her after his failed K1 Fiance visa interview in Havana, Cuba.

One of the scariest moments your fiance might have is when she is handed a letter with the above message during or immediately after the visa interview at the consulate.


Section 221(g) is the most common refusal for immigrant visas

The CRITICAL portion of a 221(g) refusal letter, are the next paragraph that comes after the above introduction.  Either it lists what is MISSING from your application, offering you a second chance to provide them, or tells you the case is “on its way back to USCIS”. I call these soft and hard denials.

You don’t want to get a 221(g) letter at all, but if you DO get one, you want a Soft denial. A soft denial means your petition is still in play, you still are in the running to be approved for the visa. You just need to carefully respond, IN FULL.

Missing documents could be something simple like a birth certificate, tax return or police clearance. Or might be something much more involved. You could get the all inclusive “provide evidences that prove your relationship is bona fide”.  Of course, a convincing demonstration that your relationship is bona fide is the major objective of the front loaded presentations VisaCoach would have created for you if you were wise enough to hire VisaCoach at the start of your case.  So far, no client who submitted a VisaCoach Front Loaded Presentation. has ever received a 221(g) letter asking for more relationship proofs.

Its Not Too Late.

If your DIY attempt was not of VisaCoach’s high standards, and you now need to “catch up” at the interview, it is not too late. Under 221(g), the consular officer has kindly offered you a second chance to show better proofs.  “Kindly” is used, because he could just as easily given you a “hard” denial with no opportunity to respond. You usually have ample time to properly reply, BUT you have only ONE more chance. You must make this last effort count. It is far better to take extra time to do a thorough job and win your visa, then to rush to submit an incomplete answer leading to denial.

Back to Belinda. She called me to talk about her denied K1 Fiance Visa. She had known her Cuban fiance for a year, traveled to meet him, then waited two more years before submitting a fiance visa petition. USCIS received her petition just under the 2 year filing deadline. She had hired a “paralegal” to help her to fill in the blanks. What she and the paralegal didn’t understand, was that claiming you want to marry and spend a life with someone, but also allowing a long, extended separation, does not look particularly convincing vis a vis the bona fides of your relationship. Yes, it is within the eligibility rules to submit a petition, without having seen your fiance face to face for the past 23 and 3/4 months, however the appearance of being a genuine couple is sorely damaged.

Her fiance was given 221(g), soft denial, and asked to provide more proofs of the bona fides of the relationship. Here was their second and last chance to convince the consular officer to say “yes”. The Fiance rushed home taking a 12 hour bus ride, rifled through his desk for some extra photos of his American Fiance’s visit, now three years past, and rushed back to the consulate the next day, sitting another grueling 12 hours on the bus.

The consular officer was not impressed.

The couple did not fully understand the real meaning of  the request for more bona fides, and instead of providing ample, and complimentary proofs, submitted a slap dash response.

The case was denied and is on its way back to USCIS. Eventually USCIS will send a notice to Belinda re-confirming the denial. I told her that if when she hires me to help her with her second attempt, that this time with VisaCoach on the case, providing she follows my advice and does what I ask her to do, I fully expect her fiance to get his visa.

The ideal case is that couples contact me, and we start working together, early in their plans and engagement. When I provide couples with FULL support, start to finish, I can guarantee success for their application, as my involvement always includes a high quality, VisaCoach Front Loaded Presentation, that tells your story, to the consular officer, and convinces him of the bona fides of your case.

When I get a call from someone who is at the consulate, reeling from his 221(g) notice, I can enter the case at that late date, and prepare a response to be sent to the consulate. Typically this is modeled after the VisaCoach Front Loaded Presention.

I would never recommend anyone to to go into the consulate interview without a proper VisaCoach Front Loaded Presentation having “softened the beaches” and “prepared the way”, but couples who have come to me with their 221(g) soft denials,  as their “last, best hope”  for whom I prepared consulate “proof of bona fides” packages, all won their visas.

By Fred Wahl
the VisaCoach