What is Administrative Processing?

Adminsitrative processing

What is Administrative Processing? For many immigrants just hearing those two words strikes fear in them.

Administrative processing (also known as security advisory opinion SAO) is when USCIS needs extra time to process your visa application. It isn’t necessarily an outright denial.

In most circumstances, you will be placed in administrative processing after the interview has been completed. Many consular officers won’t approve your visa right away and will need to review the documents you have submitted and may need to get a supervisor to review your case as well.

Administrative processing can mean the following:

  • Addition review of your documents/case
  • FBI name and background check
  • Criminal background check
  • Suspicion of immigration fraud
  • Review of prior visa applications and overstays
  • Review of previous visa denials

Any “hit” on a particular database will mean your case will be put into administrative processing. A “hit” can be as simple as having a common name that gets flagged and USCIS will need to review them one by one.

adminitrative processingWant to know how long your case will take to process?
Download the FREE AP cheat sheet!

Why Was My Case Flagged for Administrative Processing?

The reason for administrative processing is to make sure that the applicant has no security risk to the US. Since 9/11, security has been tightened and this has caused a huge delay when processing visa applications from foreigners.

What happens during administrative processing?

After your case if placed in administrative processing, you will receive a letter called “221(g)” which tells you that you are in administrative processing until your eligibility for the visa you applied for can be determined.

The downside is that the consulate will not tell you how long it will take. But, the letter will let you know what documents they need to make a final decision. It’s best to respond to this request as fast as possible to reduce any additional delays.

What should I do if I’m placed in administrative processing?

In most cases, the consulate will ask that you wait at least 60 days before inquiring about your case status. Outside of this, there isn’t much you can or should do.

Send in any documents they need to continue processing your case and check the status of your visa online at www.uscis.gov.

If I’m in administrative processing, will my visa be denied?

No. It just means that additional processing is needed. When someone is placed in administrative processing it means that the consular officer cannot determine if they are eligible for the visa just yet.

Even if you believe that your case was put into AP wrongfully, there isn’t a way that you can challenge this decision. Your best option is to provide as much evidence that you are eligible for the visa once they request for more documents.

How long does administrative processing take?

I wish it was as easy as “it’ll take 5 weeks” but it’s not. There is no way to tell how long it will take to get out of administrative processing.

It’s been more than 60 days since administrative processing, what should I do?

If it has been more than 2 months since your case was put into administrative processing, you can contact the US consulate to get a status update. But the actual time period does varies by country.

To check your case status with the consulate, call the department of state at 202-485-7600. Make sure you have your case number before you call.

The more evidence you can provide, the better your chances of getting approved.

What Do The Form Colors Mean?

221(g) Blue Form

  • The blue 221(g) letter is given when additional documents are required.
  • Submit all the requirement documents either in person or through the  drop box.
  • Specific instructions on which documents are required and how to submit them are provided in your blue form.
  • Do not make an appointment. Do not contact the Consulate regarding the status of your case.
  • You will be contacted by the consulate after the documents are reviewed.

Sample Blue Form


221(g) Pink Form

  • The pink form means that your case needs additional processing.
  • The form will indicate which documents to submit to the consulate before processing can continue.
  • You can check the status of your case online which is updated regularly.
    Complete Details

Sample Pink Form


221(g) White Form

  • The white form is the exact same as the blue form. It’s just printed on a different color paper.
  • Additional documents are needed to continue processing your case.

Sample White Form

sample-221g-letter-white-Page1-MPTC sample-221g-letter-white-Page2-MPTC

Countries That are Likely to be Placed in Administrative Processing?

You may have heard of the term “high fraud countries” when it comes to immigration. It’s true, there are some countries that get more scrutiny than others.

High administrative processing countries:

  • Afghanistan
  • Algeria
  • Bahrain
  • Djibouti
  • Egypt
  • Eritrea
  • Indonesia
  • Iran
  • Iraq
  • Jordan
  • Kuwait
  • Lebanon
  • Libya
  • Malaysia
  • Morocco
  • Oman
  • Pakistan
  • Qatar
  • Saudi Arabia
  • Somalia
  • Sudan
  • Syria
  • Tunisia
  • United Arab Emirates
  • Yemen

You’ll notice that most of these countries are in the Middle East and North Africa and are majority Muslim.

Other Reasons for Administrative Processing


Every person that applies for US visa will undergo a name-check. Name checks works by cross referencing your full name against many different databases.

Consular Lookout and Support System (CLASS) is the main database that is used by the department of state.

For example: if you have a similar name to someone who was suspected of terrorism, you will probably be placed in administrative processing until they determine that it’s really isn’t you.

I believe this is the reason that so many Muslim countries are on the list of countries that are likely to receive administrative processing delays.

Criminal Record:

Another reason for administrative processing is if you have a criminal record as the intending immigrant. If you have ever been arrested, cited and/or convicted of a crime or offense anywhere in the world – you will likely be put into administrative processing.