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Changes to US Visa and Immigration Policy on Administrative Processing

Transcript of the above video:

As the title of this video suggests, we are discussing Administrative Processing and some changes with respect to the policy on Administrative Processing.

For those who are unaware, what is Administrative Processing? Administrative Processing is basically a term, sometimes referred to as bureaucratese; sort of the internal language of the bureaucracy associated with visa processing. It is sort of that language's version of "we are reviewing it", so it is kind of a catch-all term.

I know a lot of other Immigration lawyers get kind of angry when they see ”Administrative Processing". I have never felt that the US Embassy here in Thailand, I have never felt like it was overly abused. In the cases that I have seen Administrative Processing they were usually cases they were dealing with rather A typical fact patterns and they just had to be reviewed over more time. In certain cases, Administrative Processing also meant that the Fraud Prevention Unit was reviewing the case and required further adjudication. So it can mean multiple things. I have seen it used with a lot less frequency in the past roughly 18-24 months but there have been some changes with respect to how we are going to be dealing with this in the future. 

So this is actually from the Department of State website, that is travel.state.gov. The title of this announcement is: Visas: CEAC which stands for Consular Electronic Application Center. CEAC Case Status Change.  Quoting directly, "On March 3, 2020, the Department of State made an update to the Consular Electronic Application Center, CEAC website our online portal for Visa applicants. A Visa applicant whose case previously displayed as being in "administrative processing ?"  On his or her case status page now displays as being "refused'.  There has been no change in such applicant’s actual cases. This is an administrative change to more accurately communicate case status to applicants." Quoting further: "Visa applicants whose case status on CEAC had previously displayed as "administrative processing" had been refused under section 221(g) of the Immigration Nationality Act. Although some refusals under the INA section 221(g) can be overturned, the change in the CEAC correctly reflects that the applicant’s visa application has been refused. So 221(g) is a section of the INA which basically stipulates that an officer essentially can refuse a visa application for insufficient documentation. We deal with 221gs rather frequently at the US Embassy here. It just happens. They want to see more documentation, sometimes there is a deficiency, sometimes things just happen and they want to see something else and a 221(g) refusal is issued. 

The thing I don't like in this that is noted in here, is that they say “221(g) refusals can be overturned. The change in SEAC currently reflects the applicant’s visa application has been refused”. There is kind of an implied notion here, I think they are trying to imply more finality there than really exists in a 221(g). If you get a 221 (g) it doesn't necessarily mean that the case is over. In fact quite the contrary.  221(g)s issued here at the Embassy in Thailand and Embassies elsewhere often will that that you have a year to follow up in order to deal with it. And they use the term “overturn”. That is not exactly what is going on here. I prefer to use the term “rectify”. There was a deficiency, you rectify the deficiency and you move on. Overturned sounds like being overruled in a courtroom, like on Perry Mason or something.  It lends a lot more gravity than I think really exists in a 221(g). A 221(g) refusal is simply that. You have been refused under 221(g). There is a deficiency, here's the deficiency. If you can overcome the deficiency then we can go ahead and move on from there.

So the thing to take away from this video is they have changed the name from Administrative Processing to Refusal but do not get overwrought. A refusal may not necessarily mean that you cannot get a Visa. In fact we will make a video on that specific issue here shortly. The thing to take away from this video is just because you got a 221(g) or just because on CEAC it says you are refused, it may not be the end of the road. That refusal could be as they say “overturned” but as I prefer to say “rectified” and you can move on down the road.