How Long Will Administrative Processing Take To Complete?
Just saying the words “administrative processing” puts fear into most immigrants minds. Even though we actually don’t know what the term means or what the process entails, it is still terrifying to have your case put into administrative processing (or better known as AP). The number one question most people ask is “how long will administrative processing take to complete“.
We will go into depth about what can cause your case to be put into administrative processing as well as the timeline you can expect to get an answer. The immigration process itself is not very transparent and many couples are frustrated with the lack of information provided about their case in these situations.
If you are approved without any setbacks and being placed in administrative processing, count yourself lucky. Especially if you are applying from high fraud countries where you are almost always automatically placed into AP (given form 221g) after the visa interview. Sometimes, it has nothing to do with how well the interview went and more to do with a requirement of the US consulate or embassy abroad.
Just this fact alone is a reason for many immigrants to fear the administrative processing ruling for their case. Good news is that even in you are placed in AP, you have a good chance of being approved once the review of your case is over. Since you will not be told why you were placed into administrative processing, all you can do is guess. There are a few common reasons that a case can be placed on administrative processing, and this may help some of you come to terms with the review process.
Top Reasons To Be Placed On Administrative Processing
Interestingly, you are placed on administrative processing right after the interview and not during the initial review of your case. So, it is a good sign that you made it this far into the immigration process because you were not quickly denied due to lack of evidence or a bona fide relationship.
Next, we need to look at some of the weak spots of your case and this can vary from couple to couple.
- Not enough evidence of bona fide relationship
- The term “bona fide relationship” means that you genuinely want to be in a relationship with your fiance or spouse for love and not to gain immigration benefits. USCIS is aware that marriage is the fastest way to a green card and US citizenship and they work hard to determine which couples are sincere and which ones are trying to game the system.
- If your relationship is real, then you should be able to get through administrative processing without problems. If you are sent a request for evidence (RFE) make sure to reply to it as soon as possible to avoid denial due to abandonment of your petition.
- Can’t prove adequate income and no sponsor
- If your US citizen partner does not make enough money to support you, you will need a joint sponsor. However, many couples have difficulty finding someone willing to be a joint sponsor due to the legally binding contract with the US government. In this case, your petition will be placed in AP until you can prove that there is sufficient income to support the intending immigrant.
- Remember, the joint sponsor does not need to be related to the US citizen. So you can ask just about anyone as long as they are a US citizen, have filed their taxes and meet the income requirement on their own for their household size (plus the immigrant).
- Previous visa denials on your record
- Any prior visa denials will make it more difficult for you to get a K1 visa or a CR1 visa. This is just a fact and the only thing you can do to improve your chances are to be honest and upfront about the denial. There are many couples who have been denied a K1 visa and turn around and apply for a CR1 spouse visa that end up getting approved after being placed in AP.
- If you have ever been petitioned for a K1 visa or CR1 visa by another US citizen, your case will be looked at more intensely. This may look like you, the beneficiary, are looking for a way out of your home country and any US citizen is good enough. Be careful about lying on any visa applications and to your partner because detailed questions will be asked at your interview.
- Extensive criminal background
- Having minor criminal infractions will not bar you from being approved for a fiance or spouse visa, but it may cause a delay due to the background check. Make sure that you answer honestly about your entire criminal history and not just your convictions. This will avoid any issues that may come up later during administrative processing.
- Some immigrants have very common names and this can cause you to be placed on administrative processing if your name is flagged by the FBI. It will take time for the consulate or embassy to sort everything out and make sure they are not allowing a fugitive or a wanted terrorist into the country.
- Immigration or marriage fraud
- I probably don’t need to go into detail about what marriage fraud is, but for those who don’t know, it is a marriage to gain immigration benefits. Although the vast majority of couples are truly in love, there are those who know how to scam the immigration system and this causes delays for everyone. Many US citizens get duped into an engagement or marriage thinking that their partner loves them only to find out once they are in the US that it was all a lie. Protect yourself, your children and your assets and make sure that your relationship is genuine.
- There are also “cartels” out there that make a lot of money by charging immigrants who want to marry a US citizen to receive a green card. In this situation, the US citizen is in on it and will be paid as well. These cases can sometimes be difficult to find but there are tell-tale signs of immigration and marriage fraud. If you care caught in this type of scam, you can expect a lifetime ban from the US.
How Long Will Administrative Processing Take?
This is probably the number one question that most immigrants ask and the answer is “it depends”. If your case is solid and straightforward, it may take as little as 2-3 weeks to hear back from the consulate or embassy. However, if your case is more complicated due to the reasons above, it can take from a few months to several years.
I know that it is devastating to have your future put into limbo, but you have to keep faith in your relationship. The vast majority of genuine couples that are placed in administrative processing are eventually approved. It may seem like forever but try to focus on the rest of your life with your fiance or spouse. That is what is most important. Think of AP as just another road bump to your life in America.
Many high fraud countries place every single applicant into administrative processing regardless of the amount of evidence you have. Knowing this can help reduce stress during the interview, since there isn’t much you can do to avoid AP. If you are from countries such as Nigeria or India, you will likely be put in AP for a long period of time and this may just be a policy of the consulate or embassy in those countries.
During administrative processing, there will be further background checks and reviews of your case. If USCIS suspects your relationship is a fraud, you may be on AP for a long period of time so that you give up on your case. Most couples end up breaking up because of this unknown waiting period which is really sad.
Don’t give up on your relationship just because someone else doesn’t believe in it.