Though most processing is finished within 60 days of the interview, to avoid interruptions one should apply early

Last year, the U.S. Embassy and four consulates in India processed nearly 7,00,000 non-immigrant visas. More than 6,60,000 Indians travelled to the U.S. last year, the highest total ever for India.

But a small minority of visa applicants requires “administrative processing.” That’s a bureaucratic name covering any number of reasons why a visa can’t immediately be approved, but for the applicant it just means an unexplained delay that could affect an important project, a long-planned vacation, or a move to join loved ones already living in the United States.

We understand that these delays can be frustrating. As consular officers, our job is to facilitate legitimate travel, and we are disappointed when we must make someone wait for a visa. Since the time frame for administrative processing depends on the individual circumstances of each case, we cannot estimate how much time it will take; however, most processing is finished within 60 days of the interview. To avoid interruptions in your travel plans, please apply early!

Although there is no single reason that some applications require administrative processing, we would like to take this opportunity to dispel some misinformation that you might have heard about the reasons for administrative processing.

MYTH: Administrative processing only happens to Indians applying to visit the U.S.

False. In fact, most countries require visas for travellers seeking to enter their borders and in many cases will request additional information about the traveller, which requires administrative processing. What’s different about the United States is that while many countries take visa applications online or by mail, we are required to interview most visa applicants in person before the visa can be issued. That means the traveller must first make a trip to the closest U.S. consulate, which makes it more frustrating when we can’t give an answer right away.

MYTH: Administrative processing is just another way of saying your visa has been denied.

False. The reality is that the vast majority of visa denials have nothing to do with the issues reviewed during administrative processing – they are denied for reasons such as a failure to overcome the presumption of immigrant intent or failing to demonstrate that they qualify for a student or work visa. People denied visas almost always know about it the day of their visa interview. In fact, the vast majority of cases placed in administrative processing are eventually approved for a visa – it just takes time.

MYTH: Administrative processing targets members of specific religious or ethnic groups who are unwelcome in the United States.

False. This is a very troubling myth. As an American, I am proud that our laws prohibit discrimination based on ethnicity, religion or creed. Settlers from all over the world founded America, and we still welcome visitors and immigrants from every possible background. A visa application is never placed in administrative processing simply because of the applicant’s name, religion, or ethnicity. Consular officers will conduct an additional review only when they need specific information to confirm the applicant’s identity, purpose of travel, eligibility for the requested visa, or other reasons.

Interview waiver programme

We understand how frustrating it can be to wait for a visa, and we’re working on it. In March 2012, the United States Mission to India unveiled the Interview Waiver Programme (IWP) which allows qualified individuals to apply for additional classes of visas without being interviewed in person by a U.S. consular officer. Following the success of the IWP, as part of continuing efforts to streamline the visa process, and to meet increased visa demand in India, the U.S. Mission is pleased to announce an expansion of the IWP. We expect this expansion to benefit thousands of visa applicants in India. As visa officers, our job is to facilitate legitimate travel, not to frustrate legitimate travellers. For most travellers, with a little careful planning, you can avoid any travel disruptions even if your case does require additional review, just by making sure you schedule your visa appointment well before you need to travel. We want legitimate travellers to get the documents they need as quickly as possible, and we appreciate your patience and understanding.

If your visa application requires administrative processing, you can check the status of your case by visiting the U.S. Consulate website at http://hyderabad.usconsulate.gov/pending-or-refused-visas.html. You can also send an email to support-india@ustraveldocs.com with your case number or other identifying information such as your name, date of birth, and passport number.