Information on “Administrative Processing”

      1. What is “Administrative Processing”?
      2. What is the purpose of “Administrative Processing””?
      3. What happens if a case is sent for “Administrative Processing”?
      4. What should an applicant do if  a case is placed in administrative processing without any written notice?
      5. If the Application for Non-Immigrant Visa (DS-160) is sent for administrative processing, does this mean  the application was denied or will be denied?
      6. How long will administrative processing take?
      7. After the case is sent for administrative processing, is it possible to determine the status of a case? Can a decision by the consulate to place an application in administrative processing be contested?
      8. What can an applicant do after an application is sent for administrative processing?
      9. If more than 60 days have passed since a case was sent for administrative processing, can anything be done?
      10. How to know if an application is likely to be sent for administrative processing?
      11. If denied a visa after administrative processing, can the decision be appealed?
      12. Where can I find more information on administrative processing?

 

What is “Administrative Processing”?

When a person applies for a non-immigrant visa at an Embassy or Consulate, the Consular Officer can issue the visa at or soon after the visa interview. However, the Consular Officer can also issue a notice, sometimes referred to as a 221(g) notice, declining to issue the visa and sending the case for further review. That further review is sometimes referred to as “Administrative Processing.”

Administrative Processing means that the Consular Officer is sending the case from the Embassy/Consulate for further evaluation and screening. While the exact process is fairly opaque, Administrative Processing means: 1) that the applicant’s case has been sent from the Embassy/Consulate to a data center to be reviewed for criminal convictions, security risks, immigration violations or other irregularities and 2) that the applicant’s case will be delayed.

What is the purpose of “Administrative Processing”?

Administrative processing is carried out by the Visa Office of the U.S. Department of State with the cooperation of other government agencies to ensure that a visa applicant is not a security risk and the he/she is not ineligible for the requested visa or otherwise inadmissible to the U.S.

For more information on the purpose of administrative processing click here.

What happens if a case is sent for “Administrative Processing”?

When an applicant’s visa application is selected for administrative processing they will be notified with a letter stating the case is on hold until eligibility can be determined. Sometimes – but not always – the letter instructs the visa applicant to provide additional information or documentation which will help the consular official can make a decision.

For more information on visa eligibility click here.

What should an applicant do if a case is placed in administrative processing without any written notice?

If the applicant has not received a letter stating that the case has been sent for administrative processing, he/she should contact the consulate or consulate official to inquire whether the visa application has been sent for administrative processing.

If the Application for Non-Immigrant Visa (DS-160) is sent for administrative processing, does this mean  the application was denied or will be denied?

No. When a visa application is sent for administrative processing, the visa eligibility has not been determined. After the case comes back from administrative review, and if no problems are identified, the application is likely to be approved. Of course, the final determination of approvability belongs to the Consular Officer.

Such determinations are made on a case-by-case basis and an adverse decision cannot be appealed in any U.S. court.

How long will administrative processing take?

Processing times are unpredictable. According to the U.S. Department of State, most administrative processing cases conclude 60 days or less after the visa interview. However, the average wait time for administrative processing can vary depending on where the consulate is located. Administrative processing wait time can also be impacted by the individual circumstances surrounding the visa applicant’s case.

For more information about the administrative processing wait time click here.

After the case is sent for administrative processing, is it possible to determine the status of a case? Can a decision by the consulate to place an application in administrative processing be contested?

There is no formal process for contesting administrative processing. However, additional documents and information relating to your individual case can and should be sent to the consular office or post. Concerns about administrative processing may be reviewed with your immigration attorney.

In situations where administrative processing is taking longer than expected, it is possible to initiate an inquiry.

What can an applicant do after an application is sent for administrative processing?

If the consular post associated with your application has a website, view the consular website to determine if there are any instructions on how to make a status inquiry. Also, the U.S. Dept. of State has a website that lets applicants check the status of their visas.

That website can be found here. Applicants can also check the status of their case by calling the U.S. Dept. of State Visa Office at 202-485-7600. When calling DOS, applicants must provide all relevant information relating to their case, including their name, date of birth, passport number, where and when the applicant submitted the visa application.

If more than 60 days have passed since a case was sent for administrative processing, can anything be done?

If it has been more than 60 days after the visa interview or after the submission of additional documents, the consulate handing the visa application should be contacted by e-mail.  Please note, the average wait time for administrative processing can vary. It is important to check the consulate’s website before making any inquiries.

If the case has been pending more than 90 days, an attorney can submit an inquiry to the U.S. Dept. of State’s Visa Office via e-mail or by telephone to 202-485-7600.

How to know if an application is likely to be sent for administrative processing?

  1. Country of nationality: Residents or nationals of the following countries are more likely to be subject to administrative processing: Afghanistan, Algeria, Bahrain, Djibouti, Egypt, Eritrea, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Malaysia, Morocco, Oman, Pakistan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, Tunisia, United Arab Emirates or Yemen
  2. Name-check: Every applicant for a visa must undergo a name-check. Name checks involve checking a visa applicant’s name across various databases. Consular Lookout and Support System (CLASS) is the principle lookout database used by U.S. Dept. of State. For example, if a name is similar to the name of an individual who may be suspected of criminal or terrorism-related activities, that applicant may be subject to administrative processing.
  3. Criminal record: If an applicant has ever been arrested, cited, charged and/or convicted for any offenses anywhere in the world that case may be subject to administrative processing. If the consular officer suspects the applicant may be ineligible for a visa, he may request an SAO, or Security Advisory Opinion. For a list of actions that may prompt administrative processing/SAO, click here.
  4. Recruitment or use of child soldiers: If the applicant comes from a country where child soldiers are used by military forces, governmental or opposition and the applicant could have been involved in any such recruitment activities, then he/she is more likely to be subject to administrative processing.
  5. Terrorist activities or terrorist associations: If an applicant or his/her family members have been accused of or involved in terrorist activities or associations, or has provided support to any potential terrorist organizations, or has ever been arrested, interrogated, or jailed for potential terrorist activities, he/she may be subject to administrative processing and may be inadmissible to enter the U.S..
  6. Entry would have serious adverse foreign policy consequences: If the applicant’s admission to the U.S. would have potential adverse foreign policy consequences or if the applicant has been involved in human rights violations or affiliated with parties or groups opposed to the U.S., administrative processing is more likely.
  7. Membership or affiliation with communist or totalitarian activity. If an applicant has been a member of or affiliated with a communist or totalitarian party, administrative processing is more likely. This does not apply where membership is or was involuntary, was solely while under the age of 16, by operation of law, for the purpose of obtaining employment, food, or essentials of living or membership or affiliation terminated two or five years (in the case of membership or affiliation with the party controlling a government that is a totalitarian dictatorship) before an application for a visa.
  8. Technology Alert List: One of the major goals of administrative processing is to protect national security. The U.S. Dept. of State maintains a Technology Alert List (“TAL”). The TAL is a list of scientific and technological specialties which are considered sensitive. The TAL is used to protect the U.S. from harm by preventing the export of goods, technology, or sensitive information through graduate-level studies, teaching, research, training or employment.

    To view the TAL, click here.  (Please note that the list below is non-exhaustive, and the actual TAL is classified).  If an applicant works in a field which appears on the TAL, referral for administrative processing is more likely. Also, if an applicant comes from a country considered a state sponsor of terrorism (Cuba, Iran, North Korea, Sudan and Syria) and or a nonproliferation export control country (China, India, Israel, Pakistan and Russia) and works in a field or has an academic background which appears on the TAL, the referral for administrative processing may be mandatory.

If denied a visa after administrative processing, can the decision be appealed?

No. Visa denials cannot be appealed, but applicants can reapply for a visa in the future. Applicants who reapply for a visa must submit a new visa application and pay a new application fee.

More information about visa denials can be found here.

Where can I find more information on administrative processing?

For more information about the administrative processing, visit the U.S. Dept. of State’s web page on administrative processing by clicking here.