Administrative processing ensures that visa applicants are carefully screened before entering the United States. While the number of visa denials is very small, administrative processing adds additional delays to the consular process. The reason for administrative processing is never disclosed, and the timing for approval can vary from several weeks to several months. However, most cases are resolved within 60 days from the date of the interview, or submission of the supplemental documents. While it is possible to request that a consular officer expedite administrative processing, consulates are known to expedite only those cases in which the applicant’s travel furthers a U.S. government interest, or involves a strong humanitarian concern.
The U.S. Department of State (DOS) strongly advises that, before inquiring about the status of administrative processing, applicants or their representatives wait at least 60 days from the date of interview or submission of supplemental documents, whichever is later.
The following may be reasons for the 221g, administrative processing notice:
- Applicant provided details to the interviewing officer that differ from those submitted in the petition. It is important for applicants to read their forms and support letter and be comfortable with the facts they present.
- Applicant may have a criminal history. Records from the FBI's National Crime Information Center have been incorporated into the Consular Lookout and Support System (CLASS) name check database. CLASS contains information on terrorists and foreign warrants, plus extensive records regarding criminal convictions or arrests—including those for minor offenses. If the system indicates a “name hit” for a prior arrest and/or conviction, or a false "hit," the consul is required to submit the applicant's fingerprints to the FBI to request the record or confirm that no record exists.
- Applicant was born in, or recently traveled to, a predominantly Muslim country. When thisinformation appears on the visa application, it will likely trigger a security clearance request. Clearance typically takes one to two weeks.
- Applicant’s name matches a name previously flagged by the Department of Homeland Security. The process involves sending a request from the visa issuing post to DOS headquarters in Washington, D.C., to investigate an individual's case for possible espionage, terrorism, or illegal export of technology out of the United States. These clearances take an average of 10 to 14 weeks.
- Applicant has experience with dual-use technology (technology that can be used for both peaceful and military purposes.) These clearances typically take two to eight weeks.
- Applicant is a national of a country known for sponsoring terrorism. Applicants from Cuba, Iran, Iraq, Libya, North Korea, Sudan, or Syria will likely incur delays at the consulate.
Due to national security matters, the only option is to wait for the DOS to clear the applicant for a U.S. visa. As such, applicants should anticipate this possible delay when finalizing their travel plans to the United States.