Immigration Tips: How to Deal with Cases Pending at Consular Posts & Administrative Processing Delays


Welcome back to the Immigration Lawyer Blog, where we discuss all things immigration. In this video, attorney Jacob Sapochnick shares his immigration tips for resolving issues with cases that are currently pending at Consular posts overseas, and shares what you can expect if your case is placed in administrative processing following your interview.

Want to know how you can contact your Consular post and what to say?

Keep on watching to find out more.


Do you have an immigration case that is stuck in the backlogs caused by COVID-19? In this video we share with you how you can contact your Consular post when you have a problem with your case, and what you should expect when you have been placed in administrative processing. We hope that these tips will help you gain more insight to help you understand what you can do during these difficult processing delays. If you would like further assistance with the processing of your case, or if you have any other immigration questions, do not hesitate to contact us to schedule a consultation by texting 619-483-4549 or calling 619-819-9204. We look forward to working with you. 

Contacting your Consular post 

If your case is sitting at a U.S. Embassy or Consular post overseas, or if is about to be shipped to a Consular post overseas by the National Visa Center (NVC), you should first contact your Consular post directly to confirm whether your case has been received and the status of appointment scheduling for your particular visa type. Most Consular posts have dedicated staff who are responsible for managing and answering inquiries made by e-mail. It is important to note however that response times vary widely due to the overwhelming number of inquiries that are being made by e-mail on a day-to-day basis. It is very important to have patience throughout this process and be proactive about your case.

You should only contact the Consular post directly if your case has been received by the post directly from the NVC or if it is in the process of being transferred. If your case is still at the NVC, the Consulate will not be able to help you.

In general, Consular posts can help you with the following issues:

  1. Requests to review factual determinations including a request to review a visa refusal under INA section 214(b) – applicants may seek clarification regarding the reason for a visa refusal
  2. Request for case status update if your case is pending review by a U.S. Embassy and you have not heard back
  3. If you have an attorney, they can send a legal inquiry on your behalf to the U.S. Embassy
  4. Matters involving scheduling your visa appointment (cancellations, visa appointment availability)
  5. Inquiries regarding security advisory opinions
  6. Inquiries to explain recent visa revocations, cancellations, or refusals

How to Contact Consular Posts

You can find the appropriate e-mail address for your Consular post on their website depending on whether you are applying for an immigrant visa or nonimmigrant visa. When emailing the Consulate be sure to include your case or receipt number in the subject line, whether the request is urgent, the purpose of your email, and at least one of the following in the subject line:

  • Petitioner’s name and date of birth
  • Beneficiary’s name and date of birth
  • Invoice ID number
  • Petition Type
  • NVC or Consular case number

The above should also be included in the body of your email along with detailed information regarding the purpose of your request.

For a directory of Consular posts and Embassies overseas please click here.

What happens after you send an email to the Consular post?

Once you have emailed the Consular post, typically you can expect to receive a response within 30 days. If you have not received a response within 30 days, you should send a follow up email. If the post does not respond within 15 days to the 2nd email inquiry, send another follow up email. If you have an attorney who is helping you with your visa process, your attorney an also make a separate inquiry with Legalnet at the State Department.

What if my case is not at the Embassy or Consulate overseas?

If you are filing a petition for a relative and your case is not yet at a U.S. Embassy or Consular post overseas, you must first contact the National Visa Center to ensure that you have submitted all documentation necessary for your case to be considered documentarily complete, also known as “documentarily qualified.” If the petition has been filed for anyone other than an immediate relative the applicant will need to wait until a visa becomes available to proceed with immigrant visa processing. For information regarding visa availability please refer to the visa bulletin.

NVC Contact Information

NVC Phone (for immigrant visa inquiries only): (603) 334-0700

Customer Service Representatives are available from 7:00 AM to 12:00 midnight Monday through Friday, excluding federal holidays.

NVC Phone (for nonimmigrant visa inquiries only): (603) 334-0888

Overview of Immigrant Visa Process

Remember that after an immigrant petition is approved by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) meaning a Notice of Approval on I-797 is issued, the case is transferred to the National Visa Center, where it will be given a unique NVC case number. Once the National Visa Center receives your case from USCIS, they will send the beneficiary a letter notifying them that they have your petition and what to do next including pre-processing instructions. It can take anywhere from 60 to 90 days or longer for NVC to receive your case.

Thereafter, the petitioner and beneficiary must submit certain documentation known as “civil documents” to complete pre-processing of the case. The documentation that must be submitted will be outlined by the NVC in the welcome letter. Once you have submitted all necessary documentation to the NVC, the agency must review your documentation and if all goes well once the review is complete (the review process alone can take 90 days or longer), they will notify you that your case has become “documentarily qualified,” meaning that they have received all necessary documentation from you.

After the case is documentarily complete, the NVC will initiate contact with the Consular post abroad to determine their capacity to schedule you for an interview appointment. Applicants who fall under the family preference categories must check the visa bulletin to see if a visa is available to determine if they can proceed with the immigrant visa appointment process.

Every month Consular posts send data to the NVC to let them know of appointment availability and capacity for scheduling. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the majority of cases are being “warehoused” at the NVC because most Consular posts abroad have very limited appointments available as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, country conditions, and social distancing protocols in place. Therefore, applicants should expect significant delays before being scheduled.

Those applicants who believe they are eligible for expedited processing of their visa interview should seek a consultation with an experienced immigration attorney to determine if they meet the criteria for an expedite request and/or National Interest Exception. Depending on your circumstances, you may decide it is best to proceed with an expedite request. For instance, if you are experiencing medical hardships or are at risk of becoming a public charge and need your spouse’s assistance to alleviate your hardship, you may qualify, provided you can show documentation clearly establishing your hardship.

What is administrative processing and how long does it take?

When a person applies for a non-immigrant visa at an Embassy or Consulate, the Consular Officer can either issue the visa, deny the visa, or “refuse” the visa after the interview. A “refusal” is not the same as a denial. When a case is refused, in most instances the Consular Officer issues a notice, sometimes known as a 221(g) notice, declining to issue the visa and sends the case for further review. This further review is called “Administrative Processing.”

Administrative processing means that the Consular Officer is sending the case from the Embassy/Consulate for further evaluation and screening. This can happen for any number of reasons. For example, the applicant may have said something in the interview that triggered further inspection, the officer could have reviewed certain documentation that led to the case being placed in administrative processing, the applicant could have engaged in certain actions calling into question their eligibility, etc.

Whatever the case may be, administrative processing involves the applicant’s case being sent to a data center to be reviewed for criminal convictions, security risks, immigration violations or other irregularities. Sadly, when a case is placed in administrative processing, the applicant’s case is delayed for an unknown period until eligibility can be determined. The Department of State has said that most administrative processing is resolved within 60 days of the visa interview. When administrative processing is required, however the timing can vary based on the individual circumstances of each case. In our experience it is taking longer than 60 days.

Except in cases of emergency travel (i.e., serious illnesses, injuries, or deaths in your immediate family), before making inquiries about status of administrative processing, applicants should wait at least 180 days from the date of interview or submission of supplemental documents, whichever is later. 

Can an applicant be subject to administrative process review every time they apply for a visa?

Yes. If you have been placed in administrative processing in the past, you may be subject to it again when you apply for a visa in the future. This is specifically true with respect to security clearance cases.

Is there any good news with administrative processing?

Administrative processing is not all bad news. It is important to consider that cases are not going to be sent to administrative processing unless they are otherwise approvable. This means that you have already been determined to have satisfied most of the requirements for the visa type you are seeking, and your visa is likely to be approved pending the additional security and background checks.

Contact Us Today. We hope that this information was helpful. If you have any further questions or would like to schedule a consultation, please text 619-483-4549 or call 619-819-9204.

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