Thursday, March 27, 2014

Visa under administrative processing - 221g: what can be done

[Disclaimer: What I have written here is not a legal advice. This info is based on my own experience plus what I have heard/read from friends/internet- so take this as a grain of salt]

My US visa applications always have had strong relationship with going for Advanced processing (221g). My Visa stamping applications had gone through 221g clearance four times in past seven years. The sad part is that this is the 5th time I am stuck in India from last 6 weeks. Nothing has changed from my last visa stamping (2011) to this stamping: same company, same Job, same location, only working in US from past 7 years. I have no idea what is causing this check – my only guess is that its just because of my name matching with someone else in their record.

It is very obvious that this wait period become very frustrating after few weeks. But there is nothing you can do except waiting and hope that everything will work out in the end. In my case the average wait time period varied between 6 to 9 weeks from the date of my visa interview.

What can be done:
Immediately After Getting 221(g)
It is good to ask officer as soon as the 221(g) letter is handed out about the nature of the 221(g) given and what next steps need to be taken to overcome it. This might lead the officer handing you out a questionnaire or a supporting documents submission form immediately rather than through mail that way saving some processing time.

The following could be the next series of steps to be taken in no particular order depending on your individual case

- Contact consulate to find out about your case ID (if not already given) so that you can track the status

- If any documents or information has been submitted confirm with consulate that they have been receive

-Inform your employer, client and the concerning manager/supervisor about your situation and that they may be contacted about your case as well as the interview questions (related to them) that were asked. This way they are ready and do not give conflicting responses to the same question.

-Contact the immigration attorney who had filed your case and discuss your situation and the possible responses

First 45 days (6-8 weeks)

- If the consulate has given you a questionnaire complete it as soon as possible and return it. If any supporting documents are requested try to submit then within the first few days to reduce the processing time and to clear the 221(g) sooner.

- Since the consulate claims that the average time to handle a case is 60 working days not much can be done during this time period. One can also check their case on the website : Check Status

After 45 days
- You can ask your immigration attorney to inquire about the status. As such attorneys do not have any transparency but they can certainly inquire about the delay.

After 60 days:
- Its good to send a follow-up email to DOS (department of states) and asking about the status.
- Try to reach DOS customer support service

After three months:
One of the methods to inquire about your case at this point is to have a congressman or senator of the district you work in contact the DOS about your case. The information on senators and congressman with their serving areas can be found in the links attached.


- Keep in touch with your manager/employer and try to do your work remotely. This will be challenging because of time zone difference.

- Keep faith that everything will work out for good in the end! It has worked out for me every time. So keep your head high and try to enjoy the wait time by pursuing your hobbies.

Update: Received my passport back after 81 days. So hang in there and I wish all the best to you!

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

How to shrink Windows partition with unmovable files

The reason why Windows won’t let you shrink the volume is because there are immovable system files at the very end of the volume.  Do following steps 

  1. Run the Disk Cleanup Wizard, making sure to remove the hibernation file and all restore points.
  2. Disable System Restore
  3. Disable windows indexing
  4. Disable the pagefile ( Open up System in Control Panel, then Advanced System Settings \ Advanced \ Performance \ Advanced \ Change \ No Paging File.
  5. In the same Advanced Settings, go to Startup and Recovery \ Settings and then change the Write debugging information drop-down to “None” to disable the kernel memory dump.
  6. Disable Hibernation mode in your power options \ advanced power options screen or by runnuing powercfg -h off
  7. Reboot the machine, and then delete your c:\pagefile.sys file, following below
    1. takeown /f C:\Windows\System32\en-US\winload.exe.mui
    2. cacls C:\Windows\System32\en-US\winload.exe.mui /G <username>:F
Now that we’ve deleted almost every system file that we can, you should run at least one of these free defrag utilities, but preferably all of them, in order to move all of the files to the beginning of the volume, so we can force the Shrink volume feature to work.
  1. Power Defragmenter(GUI interface for sysinternals contig)
  2. Auslogics Disk Defrag
If you are encountering the MFT problem, then you won’t have too much luck even after running those utilities. What you’ll need to do is use one of the non-free defrag utilities that is able to move the MFT files. If somebody can suggest a free way to move the MFT, leave a note in the comments.
  1. You can download a 30-day free trial of Perfect Disk and then uninstall it when you are done. Or not.
At this point you should be able to shrink the partition, at least a decent amount. Once you’ve gotten the partition shrunk, you should re-enable those important files:
  1. Re-enable the Pagefile (Reverse instructions above)
  2. If you have issues re-enabling hibernate, follow these steps.
  3. Enabling System Restore or kernel debugging information is entirely up to you.
  4. Reboot.