Administrative Processing for Visa Applications

Visa applications are sometimes held for so called “administrative processing.” If your application is delayed for administrative processing, it could mean additional wait time for your case decision.

What is Administrative Processing?

According to the Foreign Affairs Manual (FAM), Administrative Processing refers to “clearance procedure of the submission of a case to the Department”, or the Department of State (DOS). The FAM also advises consular officers to withhold information regarding the nature of the administrative processing order. If a case is held for administrative processing, you case could be suspended for up to 60 days.

Why is my case held for Administrative Processing?

As mentioned above, consular officers will not provide reasoning for an administrative processing order. However, former members of the Senior Foreign Service, Stephen R. Pattison and Andrew T. Simkin, offer a few reasons why a case could be held for Administrative Processing:

  • Circumstances that require further internal consultation within the mission or with the Department of State (DOS) arose during the visa interview, therefore it was impossible to decide the case at the end of the interview
  • The biographic or biometric testing for the case present a match for a wanted party and the consular officers must confirm the applicant is not the wanted party
  • The applicant’s intended commercial or academic activity triggers concerns about the possible illegal transfer of technology as defined in the Technology Alert List

The former explanation for administrative processing comes about if the applicant intends to engage in activities included in an area covered by the Technology Alert List (TAL).

What happens Next?

It can take 60 days or longer to resolve an administrative processing hold. An applicant can receive an administrative processing hold more than once, especially for issues of security. Issues regarding an application are usually resolved within the 60-day time frame, however inquiries about an application are limited until the end of the 60-day period. 

Administrative processing does not mean that the visa application has been denied. In fact, after administrative processing, most applications receive approval. If you need assistance making inquiries on behalf of you application, please feel free to contact our office