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Administrative Processing: Immigration’s “Black Hole”

Administrative Processing is the label used by the  State Department to describe the situation when a case has had its interview, but visa issuance is delayed.

It could be held up due to the applicant, forgetting to bring all required documents to the interview, a suspicious consular officer asking for more evidences ( 221(g) denials), a problem in the consulates visa printing process (see above NVC Computer Failure: No Visas for 14 days), the consulate performing further investigations to verify details or search for fraud, or to request  a Security Advisory Opinion that querys databases of various government law enforcement and intelligence agencies.

No “Standard” expected completion time.

As the possible causes of Administrative Processing are so broad, there is no “standard” for how it will take. It can take from weeks, to years to be resolved.

Avoid Applicant Caused Delays

Administrative processing can be triggered by an applicant forgetting to bring all of the required documents to the Interview. In a recent case Sasha forgot to bring her American fiancé’s most recent tax return the interview.  The consular officer said “You are approved. But before we can issue the visa you must first provide the missing document.”  She rushed the requested documents to the consulate, but the passport and visa did not arrive and the consulate wouldn’t provide any updates. Unfortunately, she had already booked her flights. She missed her original flight, but was able to rebook. When that departure date arrived, she still didn’t receive her visa, still got no updates and finally lost her ticket price.

Administrative Processing is typically Low Priority

Depending on the consulate, resolution of a missing document AP case, is often treated as a low priority. Sometimes many weeks go by before the visa is finally issued. It is not clear if that is
what happened in Sasha’s case, because soon after her interview the Department of State’s NVC computers failed. For her it was the perfect AP storm, one delay let to another. She is still waiting on her visa.

Security Advisory Opinion the REAL “Black Hole”

Administrative Processing caused by consular requests for Security Advisory Opinions (SAO) is trully a black hole, and is where delays may be counted in years.

SAO Administrative Processing can be triggered if the applicant’s name is spelled similar to someone elses name, who is on a terrorist, criminal, or military watch list, or comes from a country commonly subject to AP delays, or is involved with High Tech, or is or has been a member of the Communist or a totalitarian party,  or has family members who themselves might trigger any of the above causes.

SAO APs by Country of nationality

A national of the following countries, may be commonly subject to SAO administrative processing:  Afghanistan, Algeria, Bahrain, Djibouti, Egypt, Eritrea, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait,  Lebanon, Libya, Malaysia, Morocco, Oman, Pakistan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Sudan, Syria,  Tunisia, United Arab Emirates, or Yemen.

Book Flights AFTER Visa not Before

Remember, when applying for your Fiance or Spouse visa, EXACTLY how long it will take to get the visa is impossible to forcast. I can tell you estimates for AVERAGE processing times, but the exact time in your specific case, will be unique. Do refrain from purchasing air travel or making deposits until your visa has actually been received and checked for typos.


Department of State NVC Computer Fails: No Visas issued for 14 days

The Department of State’s National Visa Center’s main computer system that handles the coding and security features for new visas, failed  June 9, and has been offline, “while programmers work around the clock” for two weeks. Finally, on Tuesday June 23, some consulates resumed printing and started working off their backlog of approved visas.

All visa applicants, who had their interviews a week before the outage, through to those just coming in for their interview this week and probably next week too, will face long delays before the State department clears the backlog, printing and delivering recently approved visas.

Lesson to be learned:

Even the best presented case, after the most pleasant and positive interview,  might STILL run into delays before the issuance of a valid visa.

I regularly warn my clients, they should not purchase air travel or put deposits on chapels or honeymoon trips before the visa has actually been issued.  I actually go further and advise they should not start their reservation process until  AFTER the printed visa has been carefully checked for typos.


When is a Green Card considered Abandoned?

I am writing to you because I am concerned about a few things going on with my wife and I need some advice from someone with more knowledge of the immigration system.

To make a long story short she and I went back to Cebu this last feburary to visit her family.

While there we discovered her mother in a great deal of pain and having a hard time.

She opted to stay there until her mother is better able to care for herself.

it is now about 4 months later with only a little progress in this regard. Now I am very concerned about her fore-fitting her Green card status and imperiling her 10 and eventual citizenship.

Can you provide any insight?

As a “rule of thumb” when she is up for Removal of Conditions on Residence, if in the past 2 years she has spent over 12 months outside the country they consider, not extending her green card.

Also as a “rule of thumb” on return to the USA, if she has been outside the USA for over 180 continuous days, the inspecting officer may also consider flagging her green card for non-renewal.

It will be their discretion to decide if she really “needs” the green card or not. If she has still maintained strong ties to her residence in the USA, and if she has a reasonable excuse, ie: traveling or living with you abroad, or family illness (all backed up with evidences) they should extend the green card.

Make sure there is a solid paper trail of medical treatment, office visits, etc. to back up her story about remaining outside the USA for the care of her ill mother, and of course the sooner the mother recovers, the better for all concerned.

Should they not extend the card, then we would have to go through the immigration process, over again.​


221(g) You have Been Found Ineligible

The Consulate General is unable to issue a visa to you because you have been found ineligible under the following section (s) of the U.S. immigration and Nationality Act (INA). Section 221(g) of the Act prohibits the issuance of a visa to anyone who has failed to present documents required in connection with the visa application or who has failed to submit sufficient credible evidence to support the claimed petitioner relationship.

This was on the letter Belinda’s fiance sent her after his failed K1 Fiance visa interview in Havana, Cuba.

One of the scariest moments your fiance might have is when she is handed a letter with the above message during or immediately after the visa interview at the consulate.

Section 221(g) is the most common refusal for immigrant visas.

The CRITICAL portion of a 221(g) refusal letter, are the next paragraph that comes after the above introduction. Either it lists what is MISSING from your application, offering you a second chance to provide them, or tells you the case is “on its way back to USCIS”. I call these soft and hard denials.

There is another type of soft denial, when the consulate advises the case is being held for additional processing. This is called Administrative Processing, and I will talk about AP in a future newsletter.

You don’t want to get a 221(g) letter at all, but if you DO get one, you want a Soft denial. A soft denial means your petition is still in play, you still are in the running to be approved for the visa. You just need to carefully respond, IN FULL.

Missing documents could be something simple like a birth certificate, tax return or police clearance. Or might be something much more involved. You could get the all inclusive “provide evidences that prove your relationship is bone fide”. Of course, a convincing demonstration that your relationship is bone fide is the major objective of the front loaded presentations VisaCoach would have created for you if you were wise enough to hire VisaCoach at the start of your case. So far, no client who submitted a VisaCoach Front Loaded Presentation. has ever received a 221(g) letter asking for more relationship proofs.

Its Not Too Late.

If your DIY attempt was not of VisaCoach’s high standards, and you now need to “catch up” at the interview, it is not too late. Under 221(g), the consular officer has kindly offered you a second chance to show better proofs. “Kindly” is used, because he could just as easily given you a “hard” denial with no opportunity to respond. You usually have ample time to properly reply, BUT you have only ONE more chance. You must make this last effort count. It is far better to take extra time to do a thorough job and win your visa, then to rush to submit an incomplete answer leading to denial.

Back to Belinda. She called me to talk about her denied K1 Fiance Visa. She had known her Cuban fiance for a year, traveled to meet him, then waited two more years before submitting a fiance visa petition. USCIS received her petition just under the 2 year filing deadline. She had hired a “paralegal” to help her to fill in the blanks. What she and the paralegal didn’t understand, was that claiming you want to marry and spend a life with someone, but also allowing a long, extended separation, does not look particularly convincing vis a vis the bone fides of your relationship. Yes, it is within the eligibility rules to submit a petition, without having seen your fiance face to face for the past 23 and 3/4 months, however the appearance of being a genuine couple is sorely damaged.

Her fiance was given 221(g), soft denial, and asked to provide more proofs of the bone fides of the relationship. Here was their second and last chance to convince the consular officer to say “yes”. The Fiance rushed home taking a 12 hour bus ride, rifled through his desk for some extra photos of his American Fiance’s visit, now three years past, and rushed back to the consulate the next day, sitting another grueling 12 hours on the bus.

The consular officer was not impressed.

The couple did not fully understand the real meaning of the request for more bone fides, and instead of providing ample, and complimentary proofs, submitted a slap dash response.

The case was denied and is on its way back to USCIS. Eventually USCIS will send a notice to Belinda re-confirming the denial. I told her that if
when she hires me to help her with her second attempt, that this time with VisaCoach on the case,
providing she follows my advice and does what I ask her to do, I fully expect her fiance to get his visa.

The ideal case is that couples contact me, and we start working together, early in their plans and engagement. When I provide couples with FULL support, start to finish, I can guarantee success for their application, as my involvement always includes a high quality, VisaCoach Front Loaded Presentation, that tells your story, to the consular officer, and convinces him of the bone fides of your case.

When I get a call from someone who is at the consulate, reeling from his 221(g) notice, I can enter the case at that late date, and prepare a response to be sent to the consulate. Typically this is modeled after the VisaCoach Front Loaded Presention.

I would never recommend anyone to to go into the consulate interview without a proper VisaCoach Front Loaded Petition having “softened the beaches” and “prepared the way”, but couples who have come to me with their 221(g) soft denials, as their “last, best hope” for whom I prepared consulate “proof of bone fides” packages, all won their visas.

Avoid your own distress

Avoid your own distress, avoid the tears and distress of the 221(g) notice, by working together with me from the earliest days, to plan a course of action, identify the requirements of the consulate, then address them successfully with a VisaCoach Front Loaded Presentation.

VisaCoach immigration success method.

1. Know your weaknesses and the consulates requirements.

2. Adjust your behavior accordingly.

3. Submit awesome VisaCoach Front Loaded Presentation.


Is your Fiance or Spouse Visa Case Hopeless?

Is your Fiance or Spouse Visa Case Hopeless?

There are plenty of difficult cases out there. They have numerous RED flags, such as significant age differences, criminal histories, short relationships, adultery, too brief face-to-face meetings, previous denials, coming from a country known for visa fraud, and so on. For a detailed list of red flags visit

“I’ve got a bad feeling about this”

It comes down to the consular officer’s intuition. Whether he believes or disbelieves the couple is “bone fide”. If he suspects a sham, that the petition has been submitted for fraudulent purposes, only to gain admission to the USA (the golden ticket) not for a genuine opportunity for couple to make a life together, he will DENY.

There is no appeal

Because his decision is based on intuition, he doesn’t need solid proof of fraud. His suspicion ALONE,  is enough, and there is no appeal.

In my experience a hand crafted petition clearly demonstrating a couples sincerity, that includes 3 to 6 solid examples of the couples “bone fides” prepares the way for a successful interview, and visa approval. This has worked in ALL but one of the cases I have prepared.

The consular officer STILL suspects fraud?

WHAT IF, the consular officer STILL suspects fraud? What if after examining an awesome front loaded petition, he STILLl suspects that the 22 year old Moroccan male courting the 63 year old American woman, has a fraudulent agenda, regardless of how many emails they have exchanged?

That petition WILL be denied.

That petition will be denied. At least for the first time submitted. But what happens if the petition is submitted again, and again?

When a visa is denied a couple has a very rough time. Tears + Disappointment. If the CO was right in his assessment, if there really was fraud, very soon the couple splits up. The “gigolo” or “gold-digger” disappear seeking other likely targets.

A Genuine Couple remains together

But a genuine couple, sad and troubled STILL have each other. And if they still want a future together they have only one, practical option:  Try again. And again, And again. If they really want to share lives together in the USA that may be the only way to achieve their goal.

The first petition changes from being viewed as the entire effort, to become just a single battle of a longer campaign. Each petition, each battle brings the couple closer to success. At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter how many battles were lost, it only matters that the war is finally won.

Each interview the couple appears more sincere

Each time the couple returns to the consulate officer’s desk they bring more evidence of their correspondences, more evidences of time spent together, and an enhanced appearance of a sincere couple.

Fraudulent couples rarely apply twice and never apply a third time. Persistence and perseverance become the STRONGEST evidence of the couple’s “bone fides” and should become the tipping point to convince the officer to approve and issue the visa.

Face to Face time, is KEY

In the toughest of cases, persistence alone may not be enough. The real proof of a couple that says they want to be together, is for them to actually show it by spending as much time as they can manage face to face. The American fiancee who lives overseas with his/her foreign fiance for months or years, is much, much more convincing than one that visits merely a week a year.

A loving couple in less than ideal circumstances.

If the foreign fiance is willing to spend the next 50 years living in the USA, it seems a small trade off to spend a year in his/her country first. Not only does this make a powerful demonstration to the consular officer, but ALSO to the couple them selfs. If they can be a compatible loving couple living in less than ideal circumstances, it shows they are meant for each other. Couples that experience and overcome obstacles together become stronger.

Perseverance+ Face to Face = No case is Hopeless

For cases that appear hopeless, taking the long view is necessary. Anticipate it may require not a solitary petition but a series of petitions. And consider physically moving overseas temporarily in order to live together as a couple while the campaign to live “happily ever after” in the USA is being fought.

Fred Wahl
the Visa Coach
1-800-806-3210 x 702
“I do the work, you get the gal (or guy).”


K1 Visa Timeline. How long to get approval? K1 FAQ#08 Fiance Visa Petitions for marriage based Immigration to USA, involved two departments of the USA. Often times statistics are confusing as sometimes it describes one stage, versus the entire process. As of 2014 the current experience is as follows. For more info please call 1-800-806-3210 x 702


Questions Asked at Fiance or Spouse Visa Interview

The final hurdle is a successful interview at the consulate. If the consulate officer is convinced the couple is genuine and merits the visa, it will be granted. If he has doubts, or suspicions, the visa may be delayed indefinitely for “administrative processing” or outright denied.

Preparation in advance of the interview, should include practicing these sample questions so that the applicant is relaxed, calm and knowledgeable.







History Letter: ESSENTIAL element of “Front Loaded” Visa Petition

History Letter: Important element of “Front Loaded” Petition

Last weekend I was conducting a review of a new client’s “do it yourself” petition.

For information on my Petition review service visit

He had done all the work himself to apply for his Ukranian fiancee’s K1 visa petition and was smart enough to know that he needed the
advice of an expert like “the Visa Coach”,  to keep him from shooting himeself in the foot, AGAIN.

Yes he had already had his petition denied and bounced by USCIS and was redoing the submission. A wiser choice would have been to order my full support, but that is another story.

Describe the Circumstances of your meeting.

In reviewing what he had done, I came across his answer to “Describe the Circumstances under which you met?”. His answer was simple, cold, succinct. “We met at this website. I visited her for a week from DATE to DATE. I proposed. We plan to marry when the K1 visa is approved.”

A Valuable Opportunity was missed

What he did is adequate. I give him a “C”. He answered the question. But he could have done much more to help his case. A valueable opportunity was missed. In order to “win” the interview
we want to craft all materials that the consular officer sees to promote approval.

The Goal is to WIN the interview

The History Letter is a GOLDEN opportunity to impress the consular officer, to get him on to your side. I recommend elaborating on the response about “Circumstances”, by writing a detailed “History of OUR Relationship Letter”. The letter describes your relationship; past, present and future.

I help my clients write a 2 to 3 page letter. Its simple purpose is to describe the circumstances of the face face meeting. It’s real
objective is to tell “the Couple’s Story”. The couple is portrayed as two believable human beings, whose love affair can be understood and sympathetically related to. I want the consular officer to feel
he knows the couple, likes them, and wants to help make their “fairy tale” romance come true.

For most people it’s writing is not pleasant. I make the process as easy as possible, by asking a series of short, simple questions, to prompt them for details. Before they realize it the couple has given me plenty of material to work with. I then edit and whittle the text
down to a readable, effective and persuasive letter.

The History Letter then becomes an effective part of the “front loaded” petition we submit to USCIS.

For information on “Front Loaded” petitions visit

Eliminate Red Flags.

Not only is the History letter useful to introduce the couple in a most favorable way, but it ALSO can be used to explain or reduce the effect of red flags. Red flags are causes for suspicion or concern that a consular officer may have and may if not properly addressed lead to denial.

For information on red flags visit

For example, what if the couple “has not seen each other in-person for a long time, has a significant age difference, or courted before a divorce was final?”

Leave it for your Fiance to Defend

You could wait until those topics come up during the interview, and hope your fiancee’s debating skills are top notch, when she is put under the spotlight of the consular officer.

Instead, I help you explain your situation clearly and persuasively in writing. We let the consular officer read your considered words before the interview begins. By doing a good job answering the officer’s tough questions before he thinks to ask them, we prepare the way for an easier non-confrontational interview and visa approval.

Fred Wahl
the Visa Coach
1-800-806-3210 x 702
“I do the work, you get the gal (or guy).”


USCIS: Results approval in only NINE days !!

USCIS: Results approval  in only NINE days !!

My fastest USCIS approval to date. For an American from Hawaii, for his fiance in Philippines. Time from USCIS receipt to USCIS approval  in only NINE days !!

Fred Wahl
the Visa Coach
1-800-806-3210 x 702
“I do the work, you get the gal (or guy).”


RED FLAGS that lead to Fiance Visa Denial

RED FLAGS that lead to Fiance Visa Denial

The final decision to approve or deny a Fiance Visa application is made by the consular officer who interviews your fiance in her home country.  The CO’s job is not easy. Most standard visa applicants bring with them solid proof of their eligibility for the visa. For example, an applicant for a student visa, shows his acceptance to college, an applicant for a work visa has a job offer, an applicant for an investor visa has shows his bank accounts.



Anyone can say they are in love.

What is truly in a persons heart though is impossible to prove. The consular officer knows of, and perhaps has even been personally embarrassed by, some of  the  many well documented cases of fraud, that have slipped through the best screening efforts.

He is on the lookout for couples where the foreign fiance is scamming the American, or the American is willingly colluding with the foreigner, all for a chance to move to the USA

Each applicant tells a similar story, she is in love, she misses her partner, and she is extremely nervous being in front of a stranger who’s opinion is so critical. For most cases (except for Visa Coach’s clients whose “front loaded”  petitions are designed to tell a persuasive story with solid evidences, but for most OTHER applications)  the CO only has a few limited standardized documents to review prior to the interview. As such, he has to cover a lot of ground during an intense 15 to 30 minute interview. To aid his decision making process  he has been trained to watch for tell-tale signs, “red flags” that could indicate fraud.

The most common “Red Flags”


  • The couple became engaged after only knowing each other for a short time.
  • The couple only exchanged limited communications, or can only provide limited EVIDENCE of ongoing and regular communication.
  • The couple has only had brief  ”face to face” time together.
  • The couple submitted their petition after only knowing each other for a short time.
  • There is a significant age difference between the couple
  • They can not communicate fluently in a common language

More “Red Flags”


  • The foreign fiancee is from a ‘Hi-risk’ country
    (where rate of visa fraud is higher than average)
  • The couple’s affair started while one or the other was still married
  • The foreign fiancee has been petitioned for by a different American sponsor
  • The foreign fiancee has two or more previous marriages
  • The foreign fiancee has a history of failed visa application attempts
  • The American sponsor has petitioned for other foreign women.
  • The American sponsor has two or more previous marriages.   
  • The American sponsor is female, and male fiance is much younger
  • The couple were introduced by a relative of the foreign fiancee.
  • The trip to meet was arranged, escorted and/or paid  for by the fiancee’s relative   
  • The couple met using an online website specializing in introducing foreign women to American men
  • The couple became engaged PRIOR  to their first “face to face” meeting.   
  • The couple has not met “face to face” for an excessively long time

Red flags do not guarantee Denial

If you have have many ‘red flags’ don’t despair. Red flags do not mean your application MUST be denied, only that you should realistically assess what the strengths and weaknesses of your case are, EARLY in the process, and take corrective actions if possible to improve your petitions chances for success.

My Difficult Cases got their Visas

I have helped many “difficult cases” get their visas. And I can probably help you get yours too. I am available to discuss with you your eligibility, and to assess the affects of any “red flags” you may

Fred Wahl
the Visa Coach
1-800-806-3210 x 702
“I do the work, you get the gal (or guy).”