When you apply for a visa (For example, E-2, B-1, H1-B, O-1) at a Consulate, there are several possible outcomes. The visa can be approved, denied (refused), or the application and applicant can be placed in Administrative Processing.
What is Administrative Processing?
Administrative Processing is a period of time where a visa application goes through additional review and screening which is in addition to the standard adjudication required to see if the applicant meets the legal visa criteria. An application can also be placed in Administrative Processing if the Consulate requires more information to make a determination on an application. In most cases though, applications are placed in administrative processing because something in the application triggers a “hit” or a red flag to the Government.
It will usually occur after the visa interview and if an officer indicates that your visa has been approved (meaning you have met the legal requirement for the visa), the Department of State visa status system will usually move to Administrative Processing. During this time, the Government will run a security check and in many cases an applicant will move from administrative processing to “issued” on the same day. In some instances, though, an applicant may become “stuck” in administrative processing while the Government completes their review. During the review period, the Government will assess criminal convictions, security risks, past visa history and compliance and any other item that the Government deems relevant. In some cases, the Government may make an applicant complete an extreme vetting questionnaire.
How Long Will Administrative Processing Last?
In some cases, Administrative Processing will only last for one day or less but in other instances the time period cannot be predicted. We have seen some instances where applicants are held in administrative processing for years. The Department of State indicates that most cases are resolved with 60 days and most decisions that come from a request for more information are usually made quickly after the information is provided. We have one E-2 Visa case where the application was approved on the merits, but the applicant has been in Administrative Processing for over 1 year.
What can you Do if you are Placed in Administrative Processing?
Unfortunately, there is very little you can do but wait. In some cases, the Government will ask an applicant to complete an extensive set of questions regarding past travel and other security questions. While an applicant (or the applicant’s lawyer) can follow up with a Consulate, Consulates will not provide much information given the security aspects of the case. LegalNet is not a solution as the delay for the visa relates to security risks and the Government will not issue the visa until they feel that the individual does not pose a security risk. Regrettably though, with such a large bureaucracy, it is likely that many applications are not really being worked on. You should keep in mind that Administrative Processing is not a denial on the merits. In fact, it means that your visa is approvable on the merits, but the Government feels there is a security risk. Approval or denial will result in the assessment by the Consular post and the U.S. Government.
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