Tag Archives: inadmissibility

Potential Solutions for Visa Refusal or Visa Denial

Some visa refusals and visa denials are proper, such as when you fail to provide the requested documents to prove visa eligibility or when you are inadmissible to the U.S. due to past actions. But when the decision is improper or can be overcome, you may take remedial action if you still want to come to the U.S.

A consular officer’s decision to deny or issue a visa is not subject to judicial review, based on the doctrine of consular non-reviewability. Because consular officers have so much discretion in issuing visa decisions, it’s especially important to address complications from the get-go.

When you’re faced with a visa refusal or denial, your potential solutions include:

1. Refiling for the Nonimmigrant Visa in Section 214(b) Situations

There is no waiver to overcome the INA 214(b) ground of ineligibility (failure to overcome presumption of immigrant intent) in nonimmigrant visa cases. But the finding is not permanent, which means you may later establish nonimmigrant intent by showing a considerable change in circumstances.

When your nonimmigrant visa (e.g. B-1/B-2 visitor visa or F-1/M-1 student visa) is denied due to failure to overcome the presumption of immigrant intent, you will need to reapply for the visa and, at the visa interview, present new, persuasive evidence of strong ties to your home country.

To avoid multiple visa refusals under section 214(b), you must build strong family roots, property ownership, employment ties, and other connections to your country that you cannot abandon and will cause you to depart the U.S. before your authorized stay expires.

In 214(b) visa refusal cases, you should not reapply for the B-1/B-2 visa, for example, until your personal, professional, and financial circumstances have changed significantly. Owning a business, investing in property, having a well-paid, steady job, or starting a family in your country are positive factors.

2. Requesting an Advisory Opinion (Administrative Review)

When your visa denial is based on questions of law, you may request an Advisory Opinion from the Department of State’s Visa Office in Washington D.C. The Visa Office will not review claims that the consular officer made a mistake of fact.

The Visa Office has a dedicated email channel, LegalNet, for you and/or your attorney to request a case-specific response on the interpretation or application of immigration law.

An example is when a person is denied an H-1B or L-1 visa, which allows dual intent, under section 214(b) (failure to overcome presumption of immigrant intent). Another example is when a visa applicant is charged with 212(a)(6)(C)(i)(fraud or willful misrepresentation of material fact to gain immigration benefit), even when there was no providing false testimony or fabricated documents or the misrepresentation was not material and did not affect visa eligibility.

Within seven (7) business days of receiving a proper inquiry, LegalNet will provide notice that the inquiry has been received and is being processed. The complexity of the case and availability of required information affects the time frame for a substantive responses.

LegalNet will provide substantive responses only to the following types of inquiries:

  • Legal questions about a specific case when the applicant or representative has attempted to contact the consular post at least twice without receiving a final response, and where 30 days have passed since the second inquiry (unless action is required sooner to avert significant harm to the applicant)
  • Legal questions about a specific case in which the applicant or representative has received a final response from the consular post, but believes it to be wrong as a matter of law
  • Legal questions about specific cases involving T visas, U visas, Diversity visas, or adoption visas, and
  • Legal questions about specific cases involving the Child Status Protection Act (CSPA) and the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA).

The substantive response will be a summary of the advisory opinion forwarded to the consulate. Advisory opinions on applications or interpretations of law are binding on consular officers, but consular officers have sole authority to apply the law to the facts.

3. Filing a Motion to Reconsider and Rescind a Section 212(a) Inadmissibility Determination

Although there is no appeal process for a visa denial based on INA section 212(a) inadmissibility grounds, the U.S. Consulate or Embassy may reconsider its decision based on new evidence or legal arguments establishing you actually qualify for the visa.

In immigrant visa cases, the federal regulations under 22 CFR 42.81 allow  you to submit a motion to reconsider within one year of the visa denial to the consulate. No new application or filing fee is required when a timely motion is filed. Motions to reconsider must include relevant documentary evidence and legal claims to overcome the inadmissibility ground.

In nonimmigrant visa cases (except section 221(g) refusals), the only way to have your case reconsidered is to submit a new visa application and, at the visa interview, present a request to reconsider the inadmissibility finding.

It’s appropriate to file a motion to reconsider when the inadmissibility finding is based on a consular officer’s misinterpretation of the facts or law. But when the inadmissibility determination originates from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS), e.g. U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Services (USCIS) and U.S. Customs & Border Protection (CBP), the Consulate will generally instruct you to contact those agencies.

4. Applying for a Waiver of Inadmissibility 

When you are truly inadmissible or you are unable to get the erroneous inadmissibility charge vacated by the Consulate, you may apply for a waiver. A waiver grant is not a travel document to enter the U.S. Rather, it allows – but does not guarantee – admission on a Canadian passport (if you are a Canadian citizen) or a visa grant by the Consulate when you are inadmissible to the U.S.

Nonimmigrant waiver 

For nonimmigrant visa applicants, the 212(d)(3) waiver excuses almost all grounds of inadmissibility listed in section 212(a). This includes health-related grounds, criminal offenses, prostitution, smuggling, fraud or willful misrepresentation of material fact to gain immigration benefits, false claims to U.S. citizenship to gain benefits under federal, state or immigration law, and unlawful presence in the U.S. The only inadmissibility grounds that cannot be excused by the 212(d)(3) waiver involve security and related issues, foreign policy considerations, and participation in Nazi persecutions.

In Matter of Hranka, the Board of Immigration Appeals listed three factors that must be considered in deciding whether to grant or deny the waiver. These factors are also described in the Foreign Affairs Manual, which sets forth policies for the Department of State. They are:

  • The risk of harm to society if the applicant is admitted to the U.S.
  • The seriousness of the applicant’s prior immigration law or criminal law violations, which caused the inadmissibility.
  • The importance of the applicant’s reasons for seeking to enter the U.S.

The consular officer must recommend your nonimmigrant waiver request for approval before it is forwarded to the U.S. Customs & Border Protection for a final decision.

Immigrant waiver

For immigrant visa applicants, there are waivers for certain inadmissibility grounds, including fraud or willful misrepresentation, some criminal offenses, and unlawful presence.

You will need to determine whether a waiver is available for the specific section of law that makes you inadmissible. Even when a waiver is available, only certain immigrant visa applicants may qualify for it.

You qualify for the I-601 waiver [INA§ 212(i) waiver] of the lifetime fraud/willful misrepresentation bar under section 212(a)(6)(C)(i) if you are one of the following:

1. An intended immigrant who is the spouse, son or daughter of a U.S. citizen or permanent resident (or the fiance(e) of a U.S. citizen K-visa petitioner) who will suffer extreme hardship if you are not admitted to the U.S. [NOTE: Being a parent of a U.S. citizen or permanent resident child does not make you eligible for the §212(i) waiver.]


2. A VAWA self-petitioner who will suffer extreme hardship or whose U.S. citizen, lawful permanent resident, or qualified alien parent or child will suffer extreme hardship if you are not admitted to the U.S.

You qualify for the I-601 [INA§ 212(a)(9)(B)(v)] waiver of the 3/10 year unlawful presence bar if you are the spouse or son or daughter of a U.S. citizen or permanent resident (or the fiance(e) of a U.S. citizen K-visa petitioner) who will suffer extreme hardship if you are not admitted to the U.S. [NOTE: Being a parent of a U.S. citizen or permanent resident child does not make you eligible for the unlawful presence waiver.

You qualify for the I-601 [INA § 212(h)] waiver of crime-related inadmissibility grounds if you are one of the following:

1. An immigrant who is the spouse, parent, son or daughter of a U.S. citizen or permanent resident, or K visa petitioner, who will suffer extreme hardship if you are not admitted to the U.S.

2. A self-petitioning abused spouse or child of a U.S. citizen or permanent resident, under the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA).

3. Inadmissible only under prostitution grounds [sections 212(D)(i) or (D)(ii) of the INA]; you have been rehabilitated; and your admission is not contrary to the national welfare, safety, or security to the United States.

4. Inadmissible due to certain criminal activities (e.g. a crime involving moral turpitude; single offense of simple possession of 30 grams or less of marijuana) that occurred more than 15 years before the date of application for a visa, admission, or adjustment of status; you have been rehabilitated; and your admission is not contrary to the national welfare, safety, or security of the United States.

The I-601 immigrant waiver under section 212(h) of the INA excuses  you from the following criminal grounds:

1. Crimes involving moral turpitude

2. One controlled substance violation involving simple possession of 30 grams or less of marijuana (or an equivalent amount of hashish)

3. Two or more criminal convictions (other than purely political ones) with an aggregate sentence imposed of at least five years

4. Prostitution

5. Unlawful commercialized vice, whether or not related to prostitution

6. Certain aliens involved in serious crimes who have asserted immunity from prosecution

The immigrant waiver is not available for all crime-related grounds of inadmissibility. In particular, persons charged with the following are not eligible for the waiver:

1. 212(a)(2)(A)(i)(II)[Controlled Substance Violation] – except when it relates to a single offense of simple possession of 30 grams or less of marijuana (or hashish); or

2. 212(a)(2)(C)[Controlled Substance Traffickers]

3. 212(a)(2)(G)[Foreign government officials who committed particularly severe violations of religious freedom]

4. 212(a)(2)(H)[Significant traffickers in persons/human traffickers]

5. 212(a)(2)(I)[Money laundering]

Waiver for prior removal orders (or certain immigration violations)

Advance permission to reapply for admission into the United States is needed when you are inadmissible under sections 212(a)(9)(A)(i)(e.g. expedited removal order) and (ii) (removal order by an Immigration Judge), as well as sections 212(a)(9)(C)(i)(I) (illegal re-entry after accruing more than one year of unlawful presence) and (II)(illegal re-entry following removal order).

When any of these inadmissibility bars apply, you need an I-212 waiver to be readmitted to the U.S. or to obtain a visa as an immigrant or nonimmigrant. For more information on these inadmissibility grounds, read our article, When do you need an I-212 Waiver (and how do you get it)?

The I-212 waiver request may be filed at any time, in conjunction with a visa application, when sections 212(a)(9)(A)(i) and (ii) apply. But when sections 212(a)(9)(C)(i)(I) and (II) apply and you are an immigrant visa applicant, you must be outside the U.S. and wait ten years abroad before filing  the Form I-212.  [Note: As an alternative, if you are a nonimmigrant visa applicant, you may seek a section 212(d)(3) nonimmigrant waiver, at any time, if you are inadmissible under section 212(a)(9)(C)(i)(I), i.e. unlawful presence of more than one year, in the aggregate, and subsequent reentry without admission or parole.]

A completed and signed Form I-212,  Application for Permission to Reapply for Admission into the United States after Deportation or Removal, must be submitted – except in few situations, such as when filing for a nonimmigrant visa at certain U.S. consulates. The Form I-212 filing fee and sometimes a biometrics fee are required.

Consult an immigration attorney with expertise in visa refusals or denials

When your visa is refused or denied, and you still wish to come to the U.S., you need to contact an immigration attorney to evaluate your visa eligibility, verify whether the consulate has valid grounds to deny the visa, and discuss or pursue possible remedies.

For more information, read our related article, Common Reasons for Visa Refusal or Visa Denial.

This article provides general information only. It is based on law, regulations and policy that are subject to change. Do not consider it as legal advice for any individual case or situation. Each legal case is different and case examples do not constitute a prediction or guarantee of success or failure in any other case. The sharing or receipt of this information does not create an attorney-client relationship.


Photo by: Anne Worner

Grant of Motion to Vacate Inadmissibility (Misrepresentation) Finding + Issuance of F-1 Student Visa = A True Success Story

On February 13, 2017, the U.S. Embassy granted my client’s Motion to Reconsider and Rescind Inadmissibility Determination Under INA 212(a)(6)(C)(i) (willful misrepresentation of material fact to gain immigration benefit) and issued his F-1 student visa. He may now pursue his studies in the United States, starting in fall 2017, after he was previously denied the visa two and a half years ago for misrepresenting information in his application.

The U.S. Embassy approved the motion and F-1 visa request within 3 weeks of when my client appeared for his visa interview and asked for a rescission of the inadmissibility finding.

Prior to the visa interview, I guided him in gathering documentary evidence and preparing his affidavit (written testimony) explaining his reasons for failing to disclose certain information in his prior student visa application. Citing to the record, I prepared the strongest legal briefs in support of a Motion to Reconsider and Rescind Inadmissibility Finding, as well as a 212(d)(3)(A) nonimmigrant waiver application as a backup option.

In his first F-1 student visa application, my client failed to disclose his prior names and previous visit to the United States. After the U.S. Embassy charged him as inadmissible and denied his visa due to misrepresentation, it instructed him to file for a nonimmigrant waiver of inadmissibility.

He did not file for the waiver, but instead hired another attorney to challenge the inadmissibility finding. The attorney submitted a Request for Advisory Opinion to the Visa Office, but did not counsel him to re-apply for the F-1 student visa and appeal directly to the U.S. Embassy to vacate the inadmissibility finding.

By the time he consulted me, he had been waiting for more than 2 years since his first F-1 visa application was denied and more than 1 year since his prior attorney filed the Request for Advisory Opinion (with no decision to date).

A willful misrepresentation charge under section 212(a)(6)(C)(i) permanently bars an applicant from obtaining a visa or entering the United States. To be inadmissible on this ground, he must not only willfully misrepresent information, but the information must also be material to his visa eligibility.

After reviewing my client’s case, I concluded his refusal to disclose information – which was specifically requested on the visa application form – did not affect whether he qualified for the visa. He also had compelling reasons for not providing the information, which had nothing to do with obtaining the visa.

I advised him to re-apply for the F-1 visa and, as option A, file a motion to vacate the inadmissibility finding directly with the U.S. Embassy.  He also agreed to have a 212(d)(3)(A) nonimmigrant waiver request prepared, as option B, in the event the U.S. Embassy denied his motion to vacate.

The U.S. Embassy agreed to vacate the 212(a)(6)(C)(i) charge and issue the F-1 visa after I presented a convincing legal argument, persuasive documentary evidence, and a detailed affidavit from my client showing he needed to enter the United States to attend school, has strong ties to his country, would pose no harm to the community, and did not commit material misrepresentation to be inadmissible.

The 212(d)(3)(A) waiver request was available as an alternative solution, but it normally takes at least four months to process. The client needed to receive his visa by May 1st to confirm attendance at the school, which had deferred his admission for more than two years and could not hold his place beyond fall 2017.

He was relieved and happy when the U.S. Embassy granted the motion to vacate inadmissibility finding and issued the F-1 visa by February 13th, which spared him from using the lengthier waiver application process.

Because the permanent bar to receiving a visa or entering the United States under 212(a)(6)(C)(i) no longer exists, it will be much easier for him to obtain visa renewals and travel to the United States.

My client, who lives in East Asia, communicated with me by Skype initially, and then by telephone and email during the course of representation. At the time he consulted me, he had contacted another attorney to file a 212(d)(3)(A) waiver request. The attorney told him it would take at least 4 months to prepare the waiver application and if he wanted it sooner, he would have to pay a much higher fee. The attorney did not advise him to file a motion to vacate the inadmissibility finding with the U.S. Embassy, even though this was the better option under the circumstances.

I prepared both the motion and the 212(d)(3)(A) waiver request at a reasonable fee within 2 months. The foreign national was pleased with the collaborative process and thankful for the favorable, timely results. This is a true success story in early 2017 for Dyan Williams Law PLLC.

Helping clients overcome visa refusals through the rescission of inadmissibility findings or through waiver grants are among my top areas of expertise. Enabling a foreign national to obtain a visa to enter the U.S. lawfully – especially after he has been deemed inadmissible- takes a lot of time, attention, and work. But the potential benefits are worth the dedicated effort.


Dyan Williams

Founder & Principal Attorney
Dyan Williams Law PLLC
(612) 225-9900


This article provides general information only. It is based on law, regulations and policy that are subject to change. Do not consider it as legal advice for any individual case or situation. Each legal case is different and case examples do not constitute a prediction or guarantee of success or failure in any other case. The sharing or receipt of this information does not create an attorney-client relationship.


Photo by: Tara R.

Immigrant Visa Process: Delays and Setbacks

delaysIf you seek permanent residence through an immigrant petition filed by a family member or employer and you are outside the U.S. (or are in the U.S. but cannot file for adjustment of status), you must obtain your immigrant visa at the U.S. Consulate.

Known as “consular processing,” this pathway to a green card often involves delays and setbacks at all stages of the application process.


Family-Based Immigration

In family-based immigration, only relatives who fall in specific family-based categories qualify for an immigrant visa. The first step is for a U.S. citizen or permanent resident relative to file a Form I-130 petition for you to immigrate to the U.S.

Employment-Based Immigration

In employment-based immigration, only persons who fall in designated employment-based categories qualify for an immigrant visa. A U.S. employer usually has to file a Form I-140, Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker, for you to immigrate to the U.S.  In the employment-based fourth preference(EB-4) immigrant category, the U.S. employer must file a Form I-360, Petition for Amerasian, Widow(er), or Special Immigrant.

In some cases, the I-140 petition may be filed by the foreign national beneficiary, such as in EB-1 Extraordinary Ability and EB-2 National Interest Waiver petitions.

In the employment-based fifth preference (EB-5) immigrant category, the Form I-526, Immigrant Petition by Alien Entrepreneur, is filed by the foreign national immigrant investor.

Delays and Setbacks

Long Processing Time

Due to case volume and other factors, USCIS’ processing times for immigrant petitions vary greatly (e.g. 4 to 12 months). If there is a backlog in your visa category, USCIS may also put the petition on the backburner.

During processing, USCIS may issue a Request for Evidence (RFE) when there is insufficient information or documents to approve the petition. In some cases, USCIS may issue a Notice of Intent to Deny Petition (NOID) when it finds the beneficiary is not eligible for the benefit sought. USCIS will not approve the petition unless an adequate and timely response is submitted.

The date USCIS receives the petition, not the date USCIS approves the petition, affects when an immigrant visa becomes available in the preference categories. Nevertheless, the petition must first be approved before you may apply for an immigrant visa.

Challenges with Proving Eligibility in Family-Based Immigration

Documentary evidence

In family-based immigration, petitioners must show they have the required relationship with the beneficiary, besides presenting documentary proof of their U.S. citizenship or permanent residence.

Proving a parent-child relationship can be a problem when there is no birth certificate or when the birth certificate was registered late.

Proving a legal, bona fide marriage in spousal petitions carries challenges. The petitioner must present the requisite marriage certificate and divorce decrees (for any prior marriages), showing the marriage was legal in the place where it occurred.

Furthermore, the petitioner must provide documentary evidence establishing the marriage was entered into in good faith, for the purpose of creating a life together as spouses, and not for immigration purposes. When the petitioner lives in the U.S. while the beneficiary lives overseas, there is limited documents to present. For example, there is no joint lease, joint bills, joint tax returns or other documents that married couples who live together would normally have.

Adam Walsh Act

The Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act, which was signed into law in 2006,  prohibits U.S. citizens and permanent residents who were convicted of a “specified offense” against a minor from petitioning for family members, particularly a spouse or a child. USCIS may not approve these I-130 petitions unless it finds the petitioner poses “no risk” to the family member.

Significant delays, notices of intent to deny, and decisions denying the immigrant petition often results when the Adam Walsh Act applies.

Challenges with Proving Eligibility in Employment-Based Immigration

Documentary evidence

In employment-based immigration, the petition must contain extensive, reliable documentary evidence of the beneficiary’s qualifications, including the requisite degree, academic records, and support letters from current and past employers. Those who are filing for EB-1 and EB-2 (Exceptional Ability and National Interest Waiver) classification must also provide specific evidence showing they meet the criteria.

Immigrant petitions that require job offers must also include evidence that the U.S. employer has the ability to pay the proffered wage. Examples are copies of annual reports, federal tax returns, or audited financial statements.

Labor Certification in EB-2 and EB-3 categories

Immigration petitions involving professionals with Advanced Degrees or Exceptional Abilities (EB-2, excluding NIWs) and professionals with a bachelor’s degree, skilled workers, and unskilled workers (EB-3) must be accompanied by a PERM Labor Certification issued by the Department of Labor.

Prior to filing the I-140 petition, the U.S. employer must complete a process to recruit U.S. workers and then file for the labor certification. The DOL must certify to the USCIS there are insufficient U.S. workers able, willing, qualified and available to accept the job in the area of intended employment and that employment of the foreign worker will not adversely affect the wages and working conditions of similarly employed U.S. workers.

Forwarding of Case from USCIS to NVC

Upon completing review of the immigrant petition, USCIS issues a decision. If the petition is denied, the notice will include the reasons for denying the petition and explain any rights to appeal the decision. If the petition is approved and you are applying for an immigrant visa abroad, USCIS will forward the approved petition to the U.S. Department of State’s National Visa Center (NVC).


Even with an approved immigrant petition, you may not start applying for an immigrant visa until one is available or is about to become available. The only category in which immigrant visas are always available is the immediate relatives (family-based) category. Immediate relatives include:

  • The spouse of a U.S. citizen
  • Minor child (under age 21) of a U.S. citizen
  • Parent of an adult U.S. citizen (age 21 or older)
  • Step-parent of an adult U.S. citizen (if the step-parent, step-child relationship began before the citizen’s 18th birthday)
  • Step-child of a U.S. citizen (if the step-parent, step-child relationship began before the step-child’s 18th birthday)
  • The spouse of a deceased U.S. citizen (if the spouse was married to the deceased U.S. citizen for at least two years and the application for permanent residence was filed within two years of the death of the U.S. citizen)

Those in the family-sponsored preference and employment-based categories must wait for their priority date to become current.

The NVC is responsible for processing immigrant visa applications before they are forwarded to the U.S. Consulate. It will send instructions to the petitioner and/or beneficiary when an immigrant visa is about to become available.

Delays and Setbacks

Backlog in the Preference Categories

The priority date marks the applicant’s place in the visa queue. In family-sponsored, preference categories, the priority date is the date USCIS received the Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative, or in certain cases, the Form I-360, Petition for Amerasian, Widow(er) or Special Immigrant.

In employment-based categories, the priority date is the date the Department of Labor (DOL) received the application for alien labor certification or the date USCIS received the I-140 petition (if no alien labor certification is required). In certain cases, it’s the date USCIS received the Form I-360 petition (EB-4, fourth preference category) or the Form I-526, Immigrant Petition by Alien Entrepreneur (EB-5, fifth preference category).

In October 2015, the Department of State made changes to the monthly Visa Bulletin so there are now two different dates to track: the Application Final Action Dates (AFAD) and the Dates for Filing Applications (DFA).

AFADs are the cut-off dates that determine when an immigrant visa becomes available. If your priority date is earlier than the cut-off date in the AFAD chart, or the AFAD is “current” (“C”) for the preference category and country of chargeabilty, you may receive an immigrant visa following completion of the application process.

DFAs are the cut-off dates that determine when the applicant should receive instructions from the NVC to submit documents for consular processing. When your priority date is earlier than the cut-off date in the DFA chart, you may submit required documents to the NVC, following receipt of instructions to do so.

When demand exceeds supply of visas for a given year in a given category or country, a visa backlog forms. It usually takes several years for a visa to become available.  In the F4 (brother or sister of adult U.S. citizen) category, for example, the wait for a visa to become available is usually 10+ years.

Challenges with Submitting Required Forms and Documents

At the appropriate time, the NVC will send instructions to the visa applicant to pay the appropriate fees: Form DS-260, online immigrant visa application fee, and Form I-864, Affidavit of Support fee (in all family-based immigration cases and in certain employment-based immigration cases).

After the fees are paid, the NVC will request the visa applicant to submit the required documents, including DS-260 application form and civil documents (e.g. birth certificate, police certificate, and photocopy of valid passport biographic data page) .

Visa applicants must also submit a Form I-864 and supporting financial documents proving they will not become a public charge to the U.S. government (in all family-based immigration cases, and in certain employment-based immigration cases where a U.S. citizen or permanent resident relative filed the Form I-140 petition or where such a relative has a significant ownership interest in the entity that filed the petition).

The NVC will issue a Request for Evidence if the visa applicant fails to submit all the required documents, such as his birth certificate, police certificate, and Form I-864 with supporting financial evidence.

Forwarding of Case from NVC to U.S. Consulate

The NVC will forward the immigrant visa  file to the U.S. Consulate only when it is satisfied that all required forms and documents have been submitted. The NVC may termination registration (close case) when applicants have not responded to its instructions within one year.


After your case becomes qualified for an interview, NVC will work with the appropriate U.S. Consulate to schedule an appointment for you.

Visa interviews are normally scheduled one month in advance.  The U.S. Consulates inform the NVC of the dates they are holding interviews, and NVC fills these appointments on a first-in, first-out basis. Most interviews are scheduled within 60 days of NVC’s receipt of all required documents.

Delays and Setbacks

Completing Medical Examination

An immigrant visa cannot be issued if you do not complete the medical examination, along with required vaccinations, by an authorized panel physician in your country.

Prior to the interview, you should schedule and complete the required medical examination. Completing the medical examination after the visa interview will delay your case until the U.S. Consulate receives the results.

Completing the medical examination too soon (well before the interview) can cause delays as well. The medical report is valid for one year from the date of the medical examination. The examination must be redone if the report has expired or will expire before you enter the United States.

Failing to Appear at Visa Interview or Requesting Rescheduling

Although you usually have a month’s notice, you have no control over when the visa interview is scheduled. Failure to appear could lead to significant delays or a termination of your visa application. Requests for interview rescheduling will delay processing by several months.


At the visa interview, you will be expected to submit original documents or certified copies, such as your birth certificate and marriage certificate (if applicable). The consular officer will verify the authenticity of the documents and question you about your eligibility for the visa.

The U.S. Consulates have tremendous power in deciding whether to grant an immigrant visa. The doctrine of consular non-reviewability prohibits judicial review of visa denials. There is no formal appeal process to challenge a visa denial.

Delays and Setbacks

Administrative Processing

Section 221(g) of the Immigration & Nationality Act (INA) allows the U.S. Consulate to conduct further administrative processing before it issues the visa or determines whether you are eligible for the visa.

Administrative processing involves a wide range of activities. Examples are request for a Security Advisory Opinion (SAO) from the Department of State on whether the applicant poses a risk to the United States; more in-depth investigation to check for fraud; and request for review by a supervisor at the U.S. Consulate.

There is generally nothing you can do to speed up administrative processing and you are not told why it is necessary. While the delay is frustrating, cases that are otherwise approvable are rarely sent for administrative processing.

Incomplete Application

Under section 221(g) of the INA, a consular officer may refuse to grant the visa due to missing information on the application forms or missing documents. For example, when the visa application is based on a spousal petition, the U.S. Consulate may request additional documentary evidence of the bona fide nature of the marriage. In some cases, it may return the petition to USCIS for revocation if it determines the petition should not have been approved.

Inadmissibility Finding

Section 212(a) of the INA lists various grounds under which a visa applicant is inadmissible to the U.S. (i.e. barred from entering the U.S.) The most common include fraud or willful misrepresentation of material facts to gain immigration benefits; crime-related problems; unlawful presence in the U.S. lasting more than 180 days; public charge issues; and illegal re-entries into the U.S.

Waivers of inadmissibility are available for some grounds and not for others. When a waiver is available, the visa applicant must also meet the requirements to apply for it.

If the U.S. Consulate finds you are inadmissible to the U.S., it will not grant the immigrant visa unless you (a) successfully challenge the finding by filing a motion to reconsider with the Consulate or (b) obtain a waiver of inadmissibility by filing a Form I-601 and/or Form I-212 with the appropriate agency.

* * *

If all goes well, the U.S. Consulate will stamp an immigrant visa in your passport, which is normally valid for six months. It will also give you a sealed Visa Packet containing documents you must present to U.S. Customs and Border Protection at a port-of-entry (e.g. airport) upon your arrival in the United States. Do not open the sealed packet.

The CBP will verify whether  you are admissible to the U.S. before it admits you to the U.S. as a permanent resident. The CBP’s endorsement of the visa serves as temporary evidence of your immigrant status. You will be mailed your green card after you pay the USCIS Immigrant Fee.

Applying for an immigrant visa often involves delays and setbacks in all stages of the process. Work with an experienced immigration attorney to maximize your chances of obtaining an approval in the fastest time possible.


This article provides general information only. It is based on law, regulations and policy that are subject to change. Do not consider it as legal advice for any individual case or situation. Each legal case is different and case examples do not constitute a prediction or guarantee of success or failure in any other case. The sharing or receipt of this information does not create an attorney-client relationship.


Photo by: Omar Parada