Administrative Processing After Visa Interview

By Reuben Seguritan

August 8, 2018


After a person is interviewed at a US Consular office, he will be informed if his application is approved, denied or under administrative processing. The administrative processing of applications is a necessary procedure that helps the US government determine who may or may not be issued a visa. It is also an opportunity for the applicant to make sure that he will have no other problems once the administrative procedure is done and his visa application is approved and the visa is subsequently issued.


According to former members of the Senior Foreign Service, Mr. Stephen R. Pattison and Mr. Andrew T. Simkin, the number of cases that are denied after they are submitted for administrative processing is very small.


Administrative processing means that the visa application is submitted for clearance procedures or further administrative procedures. Any applicant can be the subject of administrative processing for any or all visa applications submitted to the US Consular office.


The reasons for the application being under administrative processing vary. It could be because further procedure is required due to circumstances that arose during the interview. Another reason is because of other information on record that would warrant a closer look before a decision on the application is made. In this latter case, an advisory opinion from the Office of Legal Affairs in the Bureau of Consular Affairs Visa Office is normally required.


It could also be possible that the applicant’s name matched or was a “hit” on the watchlist and therefore he may not be granted the visa. If the name is a match on the watchlist, then a security advisory opinion is required. This is also known as a “visa Donkey”. If the name is a hit as a national of state sponsors of terrorism, then it is known as a “visa Condor”. However, if after a further look or confirmation, it is determined that the visa applicant is not the same person who is on the watchlist, then the visa will be approved and the applicant will be informed of the decision.


If the intended commercial or academic activity of the visa applicant triggers concerns about the possible illegal transfer of technology as defined in the Technology Alert List (TAL), then the application will be submitted for administrative processing. If the applicant intends to pursue activities in one of the areas included in the TAL, then the consul must submit an inquiry on the matter to the Department of State for a determination of whether the risk is significant enough to require visa denial. This is known as the “visa Mantis” and a security advisory opinion is required.


When the application is under administrative processing, the visa applicant must wait at least 60 days or two months from the date of the interview in order for the case to be resolved.  However, delays are common during administrative processing.


If the 60 day period has elapsed without any resolution, then a person may call the US consular office where he was interviewed to ask what the status of his visa application is. If after 30 days from making an inquiry there is still no response, the applicant should send a letter to the US Consular office to ask for an update. If there is still no word from the US Consular office, the applicant is advised to follow-up with the US Consular office once a month thereafter. But if it has been a very long time since the case was submitted for administrative processing, and there is still no decision sent to the applicant, then the applicant should ask for congressional assistance.


The applicant does have the option of filing a second visa application. However, there is likely no benefit in filing a new application other than to update the information or include new information that may not have been included in the initial application. It would be a good idea to file a Form DS-5535, Supplemental Questions for Visa Applicants, in order to provide information that may be helpful for any background or security checks that may be stalling the processing of the application.