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Administrative Processing: does this mean your Immigrant Visa is denied?

What is administrative processing?

☝Administrative processing, also known as Security Advisory Opinion (SAO), is the time period during which visa applications undergo additional review outside of the “normal” visa processing times. Administrative processing takes place after the visa interview. Getting an Administrative Processing denial means one of two things: either the Consular officer wants you to add documents to your case to get it approvable, or they found something that worries them and they want to do their own investigation.

Before issuing a visa, consular officers review different databases to determine if information exists that may impact individual eligibility for a visa. A “hit” on a particular database occurs when there is a match between the visa applicant and a database. These hits may be based on criminal convictions, security risks, and prior visa overstays or denials (this list is non-exhaustive). When an individual case has been tagged in a database, the Department of State, at the request of the consular post, may initiate administrative processing.

What is the stated purpose of administrative processing?

The purpose of administrative processing is to ensure that the applicant poses no security or related risk to the United States. For more information on the stated purpose of administrative processing see here:

What happens if I am placed in administrative processing?

After being placed in administrative processing, the applicant will receive a section 221(g) letter indicating that his case will be put on hold until the applicant’s visa eligibility can be determined. Generally there are two types of 221(g) cases: administrative processing cases and post-related cases, in which the consular officer 2 requires additional information or documentation before making a final decision. Find more information on INA section 221(g) here: Different color letters are issued for different reasons by different consulates.

What should I do if I believe I was placed in administrative processing but I did not receive any notice?

If you did not receive notice stating your application was placed in administrative processing, confirm with the consulate post handling your visa application that your case has been placed in administrative processing. To confirm your case, you may visit or email the consulate. In some cases, you may wish to contact the consular officer who conducted your visa interview via telephone.

If my application is subject to administrative processing, does this mean my visa application was denied or will be denied?

Not necessarily. When an individual is placed in administrative processing, visa eligibility has not been determined. Rather, the individual case resulted in a hit on a database used by the consular post. Whether or not the visa application will be denied or approved will depend on the results of the SAO and will vary on an individual basis.

How long does administrative processing last?

According to the Department of State (DOS), most administrative processing cases are resolved within 60 days after the visa interview. More information can be found here:

💻However, individuals should review the appropriate consulate website to determine the average length of time for administrative processing in that country. A link to this information can be found here: It is important to note that the time period for administrative processing is outside “normal” visa processing time. The administrative processing period will also vary based on individual circumstances of each case.

Citizens of certain countries that are “red alert” countries like Lybia, Afghanistan, Algeria, Bahrain, Djibouti, Egypt, Eritrea, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Malaysia, Morocco, Oman, Pakistan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, Tunisia, United Arab Emirates, or Yemen frequently get administrative processing as a normal course of business because so much terrorism and dangerous activities happen there.

✅If you ever been arrested or failed to disclose an arrest or criminal conviction on your visa application, you will be subject to administrative processing.

✅If your family members or you have been known to support terrorist activities, weapons export, have national security threat type of background or recruit child soldiers – you will be subject to administrative processing.

❓If I am denied a visa after administrative processing, can I appeal the decision?

Visa denials generally cannot be appealed; but the good news is that applicants may reapply for a visa in the future. Applicants who reapply for a visa generally submit a new visa application and pay a new application fee (There is an exception for 221(g) visa refusal).

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