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Frequently asked questions about Administrative Processing under INA Section 221(g)

By February 12, 2024Family Immigration
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What is administrative processing? Does it count as a visa refusal?

The fact that an application is placed in administrative processing does not mean that it will ultimately be denied. In fact, we have seen many cases that have been approved after having been placed in administrative processing.  In such cases the initial 221(g) refusal is “overcome” with an approval.

How long does administrative processing take?

The length of time required to complete administrative processing is different case by case. In some cases the issue can be resolved in a few weeks; in other cases, the process can take years. On average, the department of state estimates most administrative processing cases are resolved within 60 days of the visa interview. However, it is important to note that the processing period varies based on individual circumstances of each case.

What are some of the possible reasons why a case can be placed in administrative processing?

In some cases where 221(g) notice is issued, a consulate may be asking for additional information or documentation before making a final decision. In other cases, the issue is more related to the need to obtain security clearances before a visa can be issued. This happens usually when a name search or fingerprint search of the applicant results in a “match” with one of the government’s security “watch list” databases or if the individual’s case otherwise implicates security concerns. In such a case, the department of state will request a “security advisory opinion” (SAO) to obtain clearances from various agencies of the U.S. government.

What is the Technology Alert List (TAL)?

The government refers to a Technology Alert List (TAL) when reviewing visa applications to see if the case poses any risk of exporting sensitive information or technology from the United States to certain countries. These “sensitive technologies” include nuclear technology, remote sensing, advanced computer technology, information security, marine technology, robotics, and more. Students and scholars from countries considered to possess nuclear capability, such as China, India, Israel, Pakistan, and Russia, may be more likely to be flagged for security clearances related to the TAL.

Is there anything I can do to speed the process forward?

If the visa application has been stuck in many months in administrative processing, the applicant can first contact the consular office in which they applied, and ask for a status update. In many cases, the consulate may respond with a brief reply confirming that the case is still undergoing administrative processing.

There are limited options to expedite this process. In exceptional cases, the applicant may consider seeking assistance from a congressperson to move the case forward quicker. Depending on the case, a writ of mandamus may be filed in court to compel the agency to take action on a case that has been delayed for an extensive period of time.

Can I enter the US on a different visa while the administrative processing is pending?

If the consulate returned the passport, the applicant may be able to travel to the US on a different type of visa while the administrative processing is ongoing. They may encounter more scrutiny at the border because of the pending visa, though, so there is some risk. If this is your situation, be sure to talk with a lawyer to fully understand the risks.

Related posts:

What is Administrative Processing?

After the E-2 Interview, what happens?

Mandamus lawsuit for extensive delays

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