H-1B holders at wits’ end to get work visas stamped

US visaUS consulates issuing more 221(g) forms seeking additional information during Covid travel ban

In recent times, the Covid pandemic has created enormous travel and visa related confusion around the world. Ever since the United States barred entry certain travelers from India, a lot of Indians pursuing work-based visas or requiring a stamping on their existing visas are finding themselves at wits’ end.

With no official date or indication of when the ongoing travel restrictions may be lifted, a lot of work visa holders resorted to NIE or National interest Exception.

However, many reported that they were issued a 221(g) form which means that either essential information is missing from their application or that it requires additional administrative processing before a decision can be made on their visa.

Read: USCIS to allow resubmission of certain FY 2021 H-1B petitions (June 24, 2021)

If individual experiences reported to the American Bazaar are anything to go by then there seems to be a sentiment that issuance of 221(g) forms may have increased during the ongoing US travel ban imposed in May 2021 following the deadly second Covid-19 wave in India.

Some of the most common reasons for an issuance of a 221(g) include an added employment or a background check required.

But now for the most important question. What has 221(g) got to do with an NIE?

One of the primary reasons why a 221(g) may have been issued during recent times could be that many visa applicants who attended their visa interviews during this period could not fall into the list of exceptions that qualify under NIE.

A plausible reason for a 221(g) in such a scenario could be that the authorities needed to get proof that they could qualify for an exception to travel.

Emergency US Visa Appointment: The travel ban requires that those seeking to schedule a visa appointment for work-based visas or dependent visas for working spouses need to request for an NIE to get an emergency US Visa appointment.

The US Department of State website lists certain criteria that qualify for an exception. It’s ideal to check if you qualify under any category and prepare your application likewise.

Read: Indian woman detained at US immigration for six hours despite NIE (June 15, 2021)

The Visa Interview: Remember getting permission to appear for an interview does not automatically guarantee that you are qualified for a waiver to travel.

The final decision whether you should be granted an NIE and allowed to travel during the ban ultimately rests on the visa officer. If they feel satisfied you may be granted your visa. Many visa hopefuls have reported getting a 221(g) at this stage too.

During these uncertain times it’s best to first self-review your case to know if you are likely to qualify for a travel exemption if you wish to avoid unnecessary paperwork and disappointment.

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