Visa Processing Delays Expected in Busy Summer Season Due to Increased Screening
This article was prepared with the assistance of ABIL, the Alliance of Business Immigration Lawyers, of which Laura Danielson is an active member.
According to reports, visa applicants, especially those coming from India, may experience processing delays due to heightened scrutiny over the busy summer season and beyond. The Department of State issued several related cables to diplomatic and consular posts that were publicly leaked, such as one issued on March 17, 2017, calling for increased scrutiny and consideration of security advisory opinions (SAOs) when additional checks may be warranted, along with generally limiting visa interviews to 120 per consular officer per day.
To support an SAO request, consular officers may ask visa applicants probing questions. It was also reported that those coming to the United States may be required to disclose their mobile phone contacts, social media passwords, financial records, and ideology. The March 17 cable's leaked text says that if a consular post determines that an applicant "may have ties to ISIS or other terrorist organizations or has ever been present in an ISIS-controlled territory, post must/must refer the applicant to the Fraud Prevention Unit for a mandatory social media review." The cable states that the post should scan the results of this review into the nonimmigrant visa case for consideration during the SAO process.
The March 17 cable text can be found here.