Denied or on hold, Administrative Processing or Sent Back

Denied or “On hold”, Administrative Processing or “Sent Back to USCIS”

What is the status of your case? is it “Administrative Processing” or “Sent back to USCIS” ?. Consular officers are human too. Like us, they prefer to avoid ugly scenes and confrontation. Unfortunately this means that at the end of an interview where the visa has not been approved often the “wishy washy” statements made by the CO don’t let the applicant truly know whether he had been denied or is on hold. Allow me to unravel the secret language of the consulate


If the CO says the “application is in Administrative Processing” or AP, this means your application is still in play. Either a document or evidence is missing, and the CO explains what it is and asks the applicant to submit it as soon as possible, or the CO plans to have something checked out. This could be a meeting with his supervisor, a phone call to confirm applicant statements, independent verification of police clearances, additional background checks, and so on.

The time it takes for AP to be concluded (even if only a simple document was missing, and promptly produced) is open ended. It might be resolved in days, or many months. The best the applicant can do is quickly and completely provide any requested evidences, then wait for results.

Returned to USCIS = Denied

If the CO says “the application has been returned to the States”, or “returned to USCIS”. The application is denied. Dead Jim, dead. If the consular officer adds any comments, they usually are.

“You can always file an appeal”

“You can always file an appeal”. That is correct. You can. As consular decisions are rarely (read never) overturned, filing the appeal is a waste of both time and money. However the CO will say that, not so much as helpful advice, but mostly as a way to get the applicant out of his office without further fuss or delay.

What should you do?

First find out what is going on. The American sponsor should email the consulate and ask them what the status of the case is. Simply and directly ask: “is our case in administrative processing or was it denied?”

If the answer is “administrative processing” ask what you can do (if anything) to get the case back on track. Do it. Then wait. It’s difficult to be patient, but that is the most realistic course of action.

Ignore the Platitudes and get back to work

If the answer is denied, ignore the platitudes “you can appeal”, “USCIS will review your case” and get started on your next visa petition. Nothing positive ever came of USCIS appeals or reviews.

Unless you plan to abandon your foreign love, you should reapply. This time make sure you do an overall better job, and especially pay extra attention to and correct the issues that caused the denial, submit a STRONGER petition..

When couples come to me, after being denied, to help them for their second “at bat”, I first reconstruct what went wrong, then help them plan a winning strategy for a revised, second attempt based upon my help, guidance, and the effective use of my signature “front loaded” petition..

By Fred Wahl
the Visa Coach