Top 6 Reasons For Administrative Processing! Some Will Surprise You.
Administrative processing…it’s a term that brings fear to those of us who are still waiting for our US visa to be approved. Why? It’s simple. We have no idea what the reasons for administrative processing is and how long it will take to complete.
It’s the unknown that is so hard to deal with! 😭
Of course, the US Consulate or Embassy isn’t as transparent as they should be which makes administrative processing more difficult to handle. But, thankfully, I’m here to change that for you!
This post will focus mainly on the top 6 reasons for administrative processing and what you can do to overcome this setback.
Antonio recently applied for a spouse visa for his wife Victoria. Everything went well and their I-130 petition was approved and sent to the National Visa Center. They completed form DS-260 and scheduled their interview.
During the interview, Victoria was asked about her previous travel visas to the US. She answered all the questions that the consular officer had asked but she didn’t get a decision right away. Instead, she was told to submit additional documents and check the case status on USCIS.gov. After she submitted her documents, she checked the case status and it said “Administrative Processing.”
The case above is all too familiar to me. I get hundreds of questions regarding administrative processing and how someone could get it completed faster.
Although this post will not go too deep into what you should do to increase the chances of getting out of administrative processing, I’m hoping that some of you will use this info to avoid it completely!
So, let’s take a look at the top 6 reasons for administrative processing.
Related Podcast: EP3: What Is Administrative Processing? How Long Does It Take?
Reason 1: Addition Review Of Your Documents or Case
When a final decision isn’t made right after your interview, it’s likely that the consular officer needs additional time to review your entire case as a whole.
This doesn’t mean that they suspect fraud, but instead, want to be sure that you are in fact eligible for the visa.
Interestingly, cases that only need a quick review tend to complete administrative processing within a week or two. Rarely does it take more than a month to complete a review of your documents.
If there is anything missing, the consular officer will send you a letter requesting what they need. It’s important to respond as soon as possible to this request to avoid further delays in your case.
To learn more about administrative processing procedures, check out the US department of State website.
Reason 2: FBI Name and Background Check
One type of security check that the US Consulate performs is an extensive background check and FBI name check. Thanks to the events of 9/11, the United States is on the look out for anyone who could be a possible terrorist. 😳
What this means for you is that your name and background will be run. If something is “pinged” you should expect a delay in the issuance of your visa. There is no way to speed up the background check (sorry!)
Reason 3: Criminal Background Check
If you haven’t been arrested or charged with a crime, you can skip this section completely. But, for those of you who have a tainted past, keep reading…
The third reason for administrative processing is having an extensive criminal record.
A criminal background check will be conducted to learn about your criminal convictions. This is why it’s so important to be honest on all of the USCIS Forms because if anything doesn’t match up with what they find then you risk being denied the visa.
Reason 4: Suspicion of Immigration Fraud
Okay, you’ve been waiting for this reason haven’t you? Many people applying for immigrant visas worry that the reason they are placed in administrative processing is because the Consulate suspects marriage fraud or immigration fraud.
Unfortunately, if there is any suspicion of fraud you won’t know it! Why? Because the consular officer will not tell you that he or she suspects you are committing fraud to get your visa. 🤨
Instead, you will be placed in administrative processing with no time line for approval.
One way you can tell whether immigration fraud could be the issue is whether the interview went well. Having a great interview is a key factor for getting approved for your visa.
However, if your visa interview doesn’t go well or you can’t answer questions correctly, you are in for a long waiting period under administrative processing.
Reason 5: Review of Previous Visa Applications and Overstays
All of you previous visa applications and any overstays will be scrutinized with a fine toothed comb! There is no way to hide this information from the consular officer so be honest with them.
Additionally, if you’ve been petitioned for in the past for an immigrant visa, be prepared to explain why that didn’t work out. For example, if you are currently the fiancé of a US citizen applying for a K1 visa but have had a different US citizen petition for you in the past, there will be questions at your interview. 😖
Multiple immigrant visa petitions can result in a visa denial if you can’t overcome the reason the previous petitions were not completed.
However, there may be a waiver for those of you who have had multiple petitioners applying on your behalf. If you have a complicated case, you may want to speak with an immigration attorney at least for a consultation.
Reason 6: Review of Previous Visa Denials
Applying for other nonimmigrant visas will not be an issue even if the past visa application was denied. However, it must be denied for a good reason such as you were not eligible or you had no ties to your home country.
Any past visa denials will almost always have you placed in administrative processing so that the consular officer can review the past case to see why it was denied if you are now eligible for the visa.
I’ve seen some couples get denied for K1 visa and they turn around, get married and apply for the CR1 spouse visa. This is absolutely okay! This will not cause your case to be in administrative processing on it’s own.
Additionally, if your case is placed in administrative processing you may not be told how long it will take for them to review your previous visa denials but I’ve seen it take several weeks to several months.
Summary of The Reasons For Administrative Processing
So, if you’ve gotten to the visa interview stage, give yourself a big pat on the back. 👏
Completing the interview is usually the final “big” step of the visa application process but it’s not the end. Simply attending the interview doesn’t guarantee you a visa.
You must convince the consular officer that you are eligible for the visa and there isn’t anything in your past that can cause you to be inadmissible to the United States.
I always recommend preparing for the visa interview before you even send in the petition. That’s crazy right? But think of it this way, I if you submit a strong petition and know what could cause issues in your past then you can be better prepared to answer questions on your visa application.
Finally, the worst thing that could happen after administrative processing is a visa denial or having your case sent back to USCIS. If this happens to you, there are two options: appeal or reapply.
Do you need help with your K1 fiancé visa or CR1 spouse visa? Maybe you want to be fully prepared for the interview? Check out The Migrant Academy! It’s an interactive online course for fiancee and spouses of US citizens that details every step of the process in an easy-to-understand way. Come join a thriving community of like-minded migrants (and their American partners) bound for the United States.
Ayan is the founder of the Migrant Academy community, the My Path To Citizenship Blog and Podcast.
After successfully navigating the hurdles of US immigration. She now dedicates her time to helping other couples achieve their goals of starting their new life together in the US.