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US Immigration: What Is Administrative Processing?

Transcript of the above video:

As the title of this video suggests, we are going to be discussing Administrative Processing.  

What is Administrative Processing? Administrative Processing is a term that is used by Consular Officers at a US Consulate or possibly an Embassy abroad, specifically in the Visa section; that's either the Immigrant or Non-immigrant visa section although I don't think I've ever seen Administrative Processing come up in a non-immigrant visa context but I guess it could.

I used to see this quite a bit more frequently than I do currently but Administrative Processing is kind of a blanket term that is used to describe basically just, for lack of a better term, administrative matters that need to be undertaken with respect to a given Visa case and it's not necessarily nefarious, nefarious is the wrong word, it is not necessarily a bad thing to get an Administrative Processing notification. Currently in some cases it is possible to check online the status of a visa application, and in certain situations you'll see “Administrative Processing” will come up as opposed to “pending” or “issued” etc.  

So what does it mean? Well it can mean a number of things. I used to call and this was seven or eight years ago when it was still possible to go ahead and in-person deal with the US Embassy on a rather regular basis, we would see cases get issued with just Administrative Processing and that could mean anything from “Oh it is being investigated by the fraud prevention unit”, or “there was something complicated about the case’, and I often think that it was possible that perhaps the Department of State's legal opinion was being sought. There were various more complicated things associated with Administrative Processing; for example, a FPU or legal opinion. Meanwhile they're also more innocuous things that could be Administrative Processing. For example in the current era where there's sort of this digital interface where you can see the current status of a given visa application Administrative Processing might come up just for a couple of days and it's just sort of the standard blanket phrase used when a 221g follow-up is basically being reviewed. A 221g is basically a refusal to issue a Visa pending further documentation. If that further documentation is remitted, then the Officer needs to go ahead and review that further documentation before making a decision whether or not to issue the case issue or issue the underlying Visa.  In those circumstances where that case is under review, under  221g, I've seen the Administrative Processing term used to sort of just blanket and explain what's going on in that given situation. 

So the thing to take away from this video is, it's going to vary depending on the circumstances of the given case exactly what Administrative Processing means. This term doesn't come up nearly as often as I once saw it. Probably in a given year, I would see this come up on a monthly basis, probably a couple two to three times a month I would see them just issue Administrative Processing and I used to joke and maybe it's not a warranted joke but there was a time I called it the “black hole” of the of the visa application process because it would go into Administrative Processing and I would follow up for a client and they just keep saying "Well it is in Administrative processing and we will get back to you", and there really wasn't any more explanation given than that. These days it doesn't really seem to come up that way. When we see Administrative Processing with any frequency that I have seen it over the past two or three years, it's almost always been in the context of a 221g and that term simply meant that the case was under review after having documentation resubmitted to the Embassy pursuant to a 221g request for further evidence.