Stuck in administrative processing

Stuck In Administrative Processing For Months With US Embassy

Administrative processing, also known as AP, is something like a black-hole where USCIS applications go to die a horrible slow death and everyone responsible just watches it happen. It’s like getting to play for your favorite sports team but quickly being benched. Okay, enough with the analogies, I’m going to describe some common stories that I hear far too often about administrative processing.

Even if you have a strong solid case, this fear of being placed in administrative processing may still at the back of your mind. In fact, I personally feared being placed in administrative processing even though I was applying from Canada and my fiance and I were together for years before applying.

I just kept thinking that something would go wrong and this really scared me. You may also be in this mindset and I’m here to tell you that administrative processing isn’t going to last forever. Luckily, we weren’t in administrative processing and I only had to wait a week and half to receive my visa after the interview.

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adminitrative processing

But you have been given a letter called 221(g), don’t panic. USCIS uses the term “administrative processing” as a catch-all phrase that could mean a variety of things. Some of the things that consular officers do while you are in administrative processing are:

  • Reviewing your case more thoroughly
  • Reviewing your answers from the interview
  • Doing FBI background checks and name search
  • Requesting additional information
  • Suspect visa fraud and need to investigate

Basically the consular officer couldn’t make a decision on the spot for your case and needed more time. The problem is that they don’t tell you exactly why you are in administrative processing which leaves most of us terrified.

Applying From a High Fraud Country

Yes it’s true that some countries are easier to get approval from than others. Some people refer to this as “high fraud” countries and “low fraud” countries. In my case, since I applied for the K1 visa from Canada it was considered a low fraud case because Canada has the same standard of living (if not better) as the United States.

Now let’s say you are applying from Nigeria – your case will be considered “high fraud” because of the number of fraudulent applications that are submitted by Nigerian citizens. Unfortunately, this is unfair to those couples that do everything right and have a genuine relationship because they are forced to jump through hoops to get approved.

Applicants from high fraud countries are placed in administrative processing at much higher rates than those applying from western countries. Of course, this may not be the case if you are applying from Australia (low fraud) but are originally from Yemen. USCIS will look at your entire life and your country of birth.

Don’t worry if you were born in a high fraud country, you can’t change this and should focus on putting together a strong visa application.

How Long Will Administrative Take To Complete

This is where USCIS and the local consulates are very secretive about the whole process. They won’t tell you exactly what they are doing when you are in administrative processing or how long it will take to complete.

Without knowing how long you will be waiting for your visa, you can’t make any life decisions for your family. You are basically stuck in limbo without an end date. Not only is this stressful but it can really destroy a relationship during these long waits that can last years. I received an email from a couple that had to wait 2 years after the interview in India only to be told they were denied the CR1 visa.

Consular officers seem to have unlimited powers to decide the fate of so many applicants. They may the final decision after your interview and it leaves you little recourse after a denial. But, if you know your rights you can definitely appeal a denial decision. It won’t be easy and it will cost more money in application fees, but I know of a few people who were successful in getting a denial overturned.

Appealing a denial can be done on your own if the denial reason is something simple, such as lack of sufficient evidence. However, if you were denied due to past misrepresentation or fraud you should seek the help of an experienced immigration attorney.

administrative processing

Embassy Denies Your Visa After Administrative Processing

In most cases, I recommend to just reapply for the visa if you are denied. Unless you know 100% you can overcome the denial reason – it’s better to just start fresh and put together a stronger case.

One couple that I talked to had applied for a K1 visa from Morocco not knowing how rare a K1 visa approval from this embassy would be. They were placed in administrative processing fro 9 months before finally being denied the fiance visa. I immediately recommended that the US citizen go to Morocco and marry her fiance and apply for the CR1 spouse visa.

The K1 visa is difficult to obtain if you are applying from a high fraud country. USCIS will not tell you this and you end up just wasting money on a visa that you have little chance of getting. If you do a little research online, you will find so many stories of visa denials after months of waiting for administrative processing to be completed.

Final Thoughts on Administrative Processing

Administrative processing is something that you definitely want to avoid at all costs. Unfortunately, there is no way to guarantee that your case will not be in AP but you can a few things that will lower your chances.

  1. Submit a strong case by “front-loading” by including A LOT of evidence
  2. Apply for a CR1 spouse visa if you are from a high fraud country
  3. Appeal a denial if you believe the consulate officer was mistaken

When it comes to appealing a denial decision, you should get a consultation with an immigration attorney to find out if you have a good case. You can certainly file the appeal on your own (within 30 days of the denial) but you would spend a lot of time researching the process. This is time you may not have to respond to the decision.

Having your case in administrative processing is HELL but don’t let that affect your relationship. I have seen many couples break up due to the stress of a long distance relationship but the stress of being in this limbo makes it that much worse. Keep the lines of communication open and know that you are working towards something together.

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