Administrative Processing delays – Be Prepared!

Administrative processing delays are frequent and occur when you might least expect them

Administrative processing is another name for a Security Advisory Opinion or Washington Special Clearance. It is a process the United States Department of State and the diplomatic missions of the United States use in deciding to grant or deny a United States visa to certain visa applicants. The process involves sending a request from the visa issuing post to the Department of State’s headquarters in Washington, D.C., to investigate an individual’s case for possible espionage, terrorism, and illegal export of technology out of the United States.

Anyone applying for a temporary working visa into the U.S., such as the H-1B, from countries such as China, India and many Middle Eastern countries, knows ahead of time that administrative processing delays are a fact of life and may delay visa issuance for anywhere from 30 days to six months. In our office we have seen the wife and child of an H-1B visa holder delayed in China for almost six months, even though the wife had applied for an H-4 visa and not allowed to work and the child was 9 months old! For nationals from India applying for the H-1B at posts in India, we prepare them for possible lengthy delays.

However, we were not prepared for an administrative processing delay at the US Embassy in London for the CEO of a global company with an approved L-1A multinational executive visa who had been coming to the US every year on a B-1 visitor visa for the last 15 years with no issue. Even the consular officer had indicated that he was approving the L-1A but that they had to do additional security checks. Meanwhile, the administrative processing has now taken more than three months! We are endeavoring to dislodge the delay through all available means including faxing the embassy every other day, contacting the Department of State, and enlisting the aid of the local congressional representative. So far, to no avail! We do not know the reason for the delay other than the fact that it may have something to do with the fact that the CEO, although a UK national since childhood, had been born in India. Administrative processing can be triggered by false matches, bureaucratic error or simple database inconsistencies. We will never know.

The moral of this story is to always be prepared in case of error that could lead to delays at the consular post anywhere in the world for a host of reason you will never informed about. Plan B of your visa application should always include a back-up plan in case of an unexpected delay in your visa issuance.

Article categories: Consular Processing

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