One of the most dreaded things a foreign worker can hear while applying for a U.S. visa abroad is that the case has gone to “administrative processing.” That news typically meant that the applicant had to wait weeks, if not months, before a visa could be issued. And that bad news followed what was often a months-long wait to even get an appointment at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate.
But the U.S. Department of State issued a bulletin recently saying that “administrative processing” isn’t what it used to be. Due to improvements in technology and enhanced coordination with other federal government partners, the State Department says, it “is processing visas more efficiently than ever while upholding our national security responsibilities.” In fact, according to the announcement, cases since October 2022 have only rarely been sent for administrative processing in the first place.
Administrative processing is a post-interview review process that must be completed before a U.S. Embassy or Consulate official can make a decision on a visa application. There can be several reasons for administrative processing, including national security, suspected fraud, or simply a need for additional evidence from the applicant. But very little information will be shared with the applicant, the applicant’s employer, or the attorney, which can cause a great deal of concern.
Although a referral to administrative processing is stressful for applicants, it has never been quite as bad as it sounds. The State Department website advises applicants to wait at least 180 days from the date of interview or submission of supplemental documents to make further inquiries regarding the case, but in practice, the cases are resolved satisfactorily much more quickly. The latest announcement from the State Department indicates that resolution may now be even faster than before.
It will be welcome news to applicants, employers, and attorneys if the number of cases referred for administrative processing really are reduced and if the ones that are referred will be completed in a prompt and efficient manner.