Virtually any time a non-U.S. citizen submits an application for a visa to come to the U.S., whether as a visitor or for business, or applies to participate in various simplified travel programs, such as visa waiver or Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA), he or she must answer the question: “Have you ever been denied a U.S. visa or entry to the U.S. or had a visa canceled?” Unfortunately, many people inaccurately answer “no.”
When a consular officer reviews a DS-160 Application for a Nonimmigrant Visa and determines that sufficient evidence has not yet been submitted to allow the consular officer to approve the application and grant the visa, the consular officer likely will issue what is referred to as a “§ 221(g) refusal.” Typically, a § 221(g) refusal means one of two things: First, it may mean that processing of the application has been suspended for additional “administrative processing.” Second, it may mean that insufficient evidence has been submitted to justify granting the visa. Frequently, the notice will identify additional documents that may be submitted by the applicant in order to overcome the § 221(g) refusal and receive the visa.
Despite its seemingly innocent consequences, a § 221(g) refusal is, technically, a denial of a visa application. This is true even though a final decision on the visa application has not yet been made, and in many cases additional documents are requested by the consular officer in order for the officer to approve the application.
Unfortunately, most applicants do not realize that the § 221(g) refusal they received is considered a denial of a visa application. After receiving a § 221(g) refusal, the question: “Have you ever been denied a U.S. visa or entry to the U.S. or had a visa canceled?” on any subsequent visa application must be answered “yes.” If that question is answered “no,” the inaccurate response becomes a misrepresentation on a visa application. Such a misrepresentation would lead to the visa applicant being prevented from entering the U.S., possibly permanently.
There are two ways to prevent this result. The first way is to avoid receiving a § 221(g) refusal. This can be done by submitting a properly completed visa application with all of the necessary supporting documents, anticipating any potential problems, and proactively addressing them. The second way is by properly completing all subsequent visa applications by acknowledging that the § 221(g) refusal was a visa denial, and thoroughly explaining the circumstances behind the § 221(g) refusal to avoid a subsequent denial.
If you have questions about how to properly complete and submit a visa application, or what the consequences of a visa refusal might be, contact an immigration attorney at Paule, Camazine & Blumenthal, P.C.