Administrative Processing

After a visa interview, there are two potential outcomes, the consular officer will either issue or refuse the visa. In some instances, the consular officer may request additional information to determine the applicant’s eligibility for a visa. In such cases, further administrative processing is required.   Administrative processing times vary based on individual circumstances. Learn what it means to be placed in “Administrative Processing” and the steps that can be taken to move the case forward.

What is administrative processing?

Administrative processing refers to additional clearance procedures or the submission of the case to the Department of State. The duration of the administrative processing will vary based on the individual circumstances of each case. There is NO set timeline for administrative processing. Depending on the facts of the case administrative processing could take months to years. Visa applicants are reminded to apply early for their visas, well in advance of the anticipated travel date. Although an officer cannot reveal the reason for administrative processing to the applicant, the following is a list of reasons why an applicant can be sent for administrative processing:

  • Further consultation: A consular officer can place a case in further “administrative processing” if they determine that there are circumstances that require further supporting evidence or advisement before making a final decision.
  • Database “hits”: All visa applicants have their biographic and biometric data checked against various databases and the results are provided to the consular officer during the visa review process. If these checks indicate a possible match (or ‘hit’) to a person about whom the US government holds adverse watchlist information, consular officers must ‘clear’ the hit by seeking confirmation that the person applying for the visa is not the same person on the watchlist before issuing the visa.
  • Technology Alert List: When a visa applicant intends to participate in certain commercial or academic activity it can triggers concerns about the possible illegal transfer of technology as defined in the Technology Alert List (TAL). When a consul encounters an applicant who intends to pursue activities in one of the areas included in the TAL, the consul must submit an inquiry on the matter to DOS for a determination of whether the risk is significant enough to require a visa denial.

When can I follow up on my case once it is placed in administrative processing?

Once an applicant is placed in administrative processing the consular officer follows a strict timetable for processing. The following steps can be taken for a case that is in administrative processing:

  1. Except in cases of emergency travel (i.e. serious illnesses, injuries, or death of an immediate family member), you should wait at least 180 days after your interview or submission of requested supplemental evidence, whichever is later,  to contact the consular post where the interview took place.
  2. If there is no action or response from the consulate within the next 30 days, you can then contact the Department of State Visa Office again to inquire about processing.
  3. If there is still no action on your case, continue to follow up on a monthly basis.
  4. For long pending cases, you should consider contacting your local representative for congressional assistance. Find Your Representative

It is important to follow this procedure once a case is placed into administrative processing. Failure to follow this procedure will only delay case processing.

Important Notice: Before making inquiries about the status of administrative processing, applicants or their representatives will need to wait at least 180 days from the date of interview or submission of supplemental documents, whichever is later.

My immigrant visa appointment has been scheduled, now what? How do I check National Visa Center (NVC) processing times?

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