Administrative Visa Possessing: A Black Hole

By Dev B. Viswanath, Esq.

When an individual applies for a visa their application may be required to go through further administrative processing. This occurs after the individual’s interview by a consular officer, and the timing of how long their application will go through administrative processing varies by each case. 90 percent of cases that fall into administrative processing under 221(g) will be resolved within the few 2 to 4 weeks. However, another 8 percent may take longer than 1 month, and about 2 percent of cases will take much longer than a month. Of course, the Covid-19 pandemic has created some additional delays here, but more recently, this attorney has noticed a more “normal” assessment in administrative processing.

An individual who is placed in administrative processing should wait at least sixty days from the date of interview or submission of additional documents, whichever is later, before making any inquiries about their case. Otherwise, there is a good chance of being responded with a generic answer, which is unhelpful.

Being placed in administrative processing can seem like a black hole for visa applicants because the reason for administrative processing is concealed and the length of time is uncertain. Some applicants believe this delay will eventually result in a denial. But that is not true most of the time. If an applicant is placed in administrative processing, the consular officer issues a written notice stating that under Section 221(g) of the Immigration and Nationality Acts (INA) no visa can be issued until additional administrative processing has been completed.

An applicant may be put into administrative processing for several reasons such as:

  • The need to review their case more thoroughly
  • The need to review their answers from the interview
  • To do a background check and name check
  • Requesting additional information to support the applicant’s petition
  • A suspicion of visa fraud and need to investigate further

During administrative processing, a consular officer may request a Security Advisory Opinion (SAO) to determine if the applicant poses a risk to the United States. If an SAO is requested, consular officers are told not to reveal applicants. Once a visa application is put into administrative processing it may be very difficult to move it along in the consular posts but with a persistent and respectful manner, it can sometimes be done.

If an application is denied after administrative processing, the applicant cannot appeal the denial. But, an applicant may be able to request an advisory opinion from the Visa Office. Since administrative processing may at times take a very long time it is sometimes better to apply for a visa all over again rather than appealing a denial. The decision should be made only after consulting a legal professional.

Image courtesy of (Image Courtesy: US Embassy in Haiti)

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