Why Was My Visa Not Approved ? The Pitfall of Administrative Processing

Have you ever applied for a US visa and been told that your case is “on hold” then waiting weeks or months in the dark? This is very frustrating and unfortunately a very non-transparent area of immigration processing. It is likely that your case is in Administrative Processing. Administrative processing is “code” for delaying adjudication on your case. It is issued based on various reasons, but predominantly for additional security background checks conducted on an applicant. In many cases, a manual background check must be completed through the Visa Office in Washington DC before the applicant can proceed with being granted a visa. Some of the visa procedures have funny names like visa “donkey” or “mantis.” They refer to specific types of security background checks based perhaps on the person’s country of origin or technological background. In many cases, it is just a FBI name check that has to be cleared manually, which no one can control and even impacts persons with a no criminal history.

In any event, the embassy should be more transparent in the way it communicates this situation to the applicant. First, a written notice should be given to the applicant indicating the case is in administrative processing. If not, then obtain a copy immediately because this is your right. In general, administrative processing takes predominantly 30 to 60 days to get sorted out. There are at times people stuck in administrative processing longer than this – sometimes months. Unfortunately, there is not much that can be done but to follow up with the embassy. The case may be essentially being handled by the Visa Office but the Embassy can follow up and you can ask them to email the Visa office on your behalf to ensure nothing has fallen through the cracks.

Once administrative processing has cleared, the person should be able to obtain the visa without a problem. On occasion, a person in administrative processing may be denied a visa due to a security background check resulting in a finding that makes him or her inadmissible.

The last thing to remember is that administrative processing can take place with any applicant so you should not be scheduling your flight to the United States until your visa is in your hand. If you stay on top of your case with the Embassy, usually administrative processing can be completed and you can be granted a visa.

If you have any questions about administrative processing, please contact Catherine Brown Boulder Immigration attorney at 303-322-2117 for a consultation.