Administrative Processing FBI Name checks
A DV2015 selectee from the immigration.com forum named Martin has done a bit of research on the FBI name checks. These checks are not specific to DV lottery selectees, but the information gives an insight into some of the reasons why some cases are more likely to go on AP than others. In some countries there is a high chance of AP, in other countries it will happen rarely.
I have also speculated that KCC might be calling for some of these checks as part of the DS260 processing – and that might be something introduced this year with the new DS260 system. Perhaps I am giving USCIS/DoS too much credit – but if true it would at least explain why the DS260s are talking so long to process compared with the previous paper based process. That would be advantageous to DV lottery selectees because as annoying as it is waiting for the DS260 to be completed, AP is far more detrimental since many AP checks failed to finish in previous years. Starting those checks earlier in the process would give AP cases a better chance to complete in time.
My thanks to Martin for this informative piece!
The Office of the Secretary of State for Visa Services maintains, that the FBI background check is a necessary process for sifting out terrorists, spies, and people that illegally transfer sensitive technologies. It also claims it only affects 2% of applicants, so if you’re unlucky to be chosen, be prepared to wait 12-360 days for a response, which might be a revocation of your previously approved visa. Most times, though, you would be approved.
The background check level you get depends on the application data or, specifically, nationality, you will be assigned one or more categories or class. These are code named:
Mantis: (potential illegal transfer of sensitive technology)
Bear (for foreign government officials, representatives to international organisations,
and their families)
Donkey (name hits, certain nationalities)
Merlin (for refugees and asylum seekers)
Eagle(certain nationals of Cuba, China, Russia, Iran, Vietnam)
Condor (certain nationalities e.g. Afghanistan, Algeria, Bahrain, Djibouti, Egypt, Eritrea, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Malaysia, Morocco, Oman, Pakistan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, Tunisia, Turkey, the United Arab Emirates, Yemen.)
Hawk (for immigrant visas).
Horse (diplomatic visa holders of certain nationalities)
Pegasus (officials of Commonwealth of Independent States)
Afterwards, your information is forwarded to the pertinent agencies for a very thorough check– mostly FBI. Others could be CIA, DEA, U.S. Department of Commerce, Department of Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control, Interpol, and the Department of State’s Bureau of International Security and Non-proliferation.
This is where the delay really occurs. If everything goes well, you can have your approved visa in as little as three weeks, but if there is a problem of any sort, a delay could be anything from 30 days to 360 days. The most painful part is that you don’t know exactly how long it’s going to take, and there are no step by step updates, so you are stuck in a timeless time of waiting. Here are some reasons for delay:
1. Errors in the visa submission : The US Embassy from the country you are applying might mistakenly submit your information in a wrong format (different from what the agencies want), so the agency returns the data to the embassy. This obviously prolongs the security check and approval process. This situation happens every now and then, but it seems that the various agencies are working to standardise the submission format, which would help reduce such mistakes.
2. False Hits(Especially for Visas Mantis and Visas Condor): If your name matches that of someone on the FBI’s (or any other agency’s) list, you will be subjected to more scrutiny till you are either cleared or marked as a concern to security. Imagine if you are from a country with many identical names, this process will take much longer for you, and this accounts for most of the average processing time differences across various countries.
3. Visa Burden: If you apply at a peak time, when a lot of people are seeking to travel, this process will obviously take much longer. The agencies do not have enough personnel to deal with the spike, so they just do the best they can. Sometimes there are even backlogs, and this is why some people don’t get their visas for more than a year. More so, the agencies prioritise certain visa classes, therefore when there is an overload, certain requests are sidelined. For example, the FBI prioritises Visas Condor and Visas Mantis.
4. Hits: If your name and information submitted by the Embassy matches the one in any agency’s database, then you might want to forget about travelling any time soon because they will resort to fetching as much information as they possibly could. This would take a long time since they might have to request information from other non-related sources– sometimes this could require judicial approval. In addition, some agencies are yet to centralise their information storage systems, which means that it could be necessary to request paper files from branch offices. If you are considered a security threat, the agency will write a security advisory opinion on you and then send it back to the State for Visa Services, who then revokes your visa.
For example, Condor Checks, are required for specified individuals. The exact criteria for which applicants this Check applies to are confidential. However, anecdotal evidence indicates that any one of a number of factors may trigger the need for Condor Clearance:
- Travel to predominantly Muslim countries
- Prior foreign military service in certain countries
- Prior employment in sensitive sectors
- Specialised training that may have military, intelligence or security implications
- Birth or residency in certain countries, not limited to Afghanistan, Algeria, Bahrain, Djibouti, Egypt, Eritrea, Indonesia, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Malaysia, Morocco, Oman, Pakistan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Tunisia, Turkey, the United Arab Emirates, Yemen., Cuba, Iran, Iraq, Libya, North Korea, Sudan, Syria.
The U.S. Department of State reports that approximately 80% of Condor clearances are completed within 30 days.
Visa Donkey Checks are based on a “name hit”, meaning a name is similar to an individual of interest to U.S. authorities. In theory, the name hit is non nationality-specific. However, male applicants from Middle Eastern countries are most often subject to this type of check. Processing estimates for most Visa Donkey clearances take between 2 to 4 months, although long delays are no unheard of for a select few.
The names are searched in a multitude of combinations, switching the order of first, last, middle names, as well as combinations with just the first and last, first and middle, and so on. It also searches different phonetic spelling variations of the names, especially important considering that many names have been transliterated from a language other than English.
Mantis Checks are required for individuals who are involved in any of the technologies included on a list of 15 areas. The Critical Fields List (CFL) of the Department of States Technology Alert List is very comprehensive and includes almost any field relating to military, weapons technology or intelligence. This includes biochemistry, chemical engineering, and certain medical research specialty fields. For example, a high school chemistry teacher from France intending to visit the U.S. could be subject to a Mantis Check. Most Mantis checks are completed within 10 weeks from the date of request by the consular officer.
Routine Criminal Checks are performed by immigration officials by using the Consular Lookout and Support System (also known as “CLASS”). This system contains information on criminal convictions, FBI records, and terrorist watch lists. The system is updated very regularly, and is a valuable tool of national security to immigration officials.
The biggest problem of the waiting process is that you do not have any access to the nature of the delay. You could call the consular a million times, and they would say the same exact thing– “your application is undergoing administrative processing…”
February 4, 2015 at 03:52
Very interesting indeed. Almost makes me want to work in this field, LOL
February 7, 2015 at 15:41
Best article ever. This makes so much sense of what until now has been a bit of a mystery. Thank you Simon.
February 13, 2015 at 15:32
I love this one
February 22, 2015 at 01:44
Some times thanks not enough best article ever Read it, thank you so much and our God bless you
December 9, 2015 at 12:33
Hi mr Simon, my younger brother has a problem, he lives in a foreign country where he got the refugee status as a refugee, in his refugee process he declared himself has a originated of country let’s say A, while he is from country B and he lived with that refugee paper in country C for many years, he played Dv lottery as originated from B his original country of birth, he is now gone back in his country of birth which is country B to apply for his dv visa, his date of birth was misspelled in the country A his name as well, he never has any record of crime in that country A just wanted to be seen as from country A for discrimination purposes in country C as people from country B are much discriminated in country C, he finally applied his police certificate with his correct name and correct county of birth country B and police certificate is clean.
My question is that is it going to affect his visa with the American background checks on him? Or should he had in his Ds260 his other name which was misspelled in country A ? Will be refused visa for that?
July 26, 2016 at 02:43
We went for interview may 12 when my wife was 6months pregnant and was put on AP but we forgot to inform KCC about my wife pregnancy.Since then we have not been called back.If we are given visa will our baby not be part of the program?
July 26, 2016 at 03:18
THere are some options to add the baby. Wait until your AP clears and then discuss with the embassy how to add the child.
July 26, 2016 at 04:54
My birth certificate has 3 names ABC. I have only used AC and my father’s surname in all my documents academic + passport. When filling DS260, where do I place B? since at the top it says names in the passport.
July 26, 2016 at 11:40
Full legal name as shown in the passport.
July 26, 2016 at 10:37
Thanks for such an informative article, can you please explain if someone name match with their databases coincidentally, what they ll do they ll refuse or deny visa straight away or they will call individual for Clearance because their are lots of similar names.
July 26, 2016 at 11:32
There would be some further background checks.
September 5, 2016 at 13:14
Hello simon in june 2 appeared interview since this time they were update my case the last update is 2 september so can you tell the ecpectation about my case ? Thanks
Your visa case is currently undergoing necessary administrative processing. This processing can take several weeks. Please follow any instructions provided by the Consular Officer at the time of your interview. If further information is needed, you will be contacted. If your visa application is approved, it will be processed and mailed/available within two business days. Under the U.S. Immigration and Nationality Act, Immigrant Visas for “Diversity Visas” cannot be issued after September 30th of the year in which you were selected to apply for a Diversity Visa. For example, entrants into the Diversity Visa Program in Fall of 2011 were selected for Diversity Visa 2012 Program, and selectees MUST apply and receive their visa prior to September 30, 2012 otherwise they lose eligibility to receive a Diversity Immigrant Visa, regardless of additional administrative processing. In addition, please note that some immigrant visas may not be able to be issued if the annual numerical limit for that category has been reached.
For more information, please visit TRAVEL.STATE.GOV.
September 5, 2016 at 13:29
How can I possibly tell you anything meaningful from what you wrote? If you are on AP, all you can do is wait.
April 18, 2018 at 14:29
Hello sir my name is muhammad asif. I have been selected for Diversity Immigration Visa 2018. I had my visa interview on 21 November 2017 and my case is still in administrative process and then today i sent an email to the US Embassy kabul Afghanistan and the reply was this.
EMBASSY OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
Great Massoud Road
E-mail: [email protected]
Thank you for your e-mail.
We have reviewed Department records and can confirm that your immigrant visa case was refused under 221(g) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), pending administrative processing in order to verify the applicant’s qualifications for this visa. We will notify you when this process has completed and the case is ready to move forward.
We continue to work to streamline the visa process where possible, while ensuring that applicants are both qualified for a visa and do not pose a security risk to the United States. While we cannot predict when the processing of the visa will be completed, please be assured that the Embassy and the Department of State are aware of your concerns and will do all we can to see that the processing of the case is concluded as soon as possible. Please note that this is an important part of the process that can be neither waived nor expedited.
While the case is undergoing administrative processing, the applicant will not be contacted by the Consular Section.
We advise applicants to check the status of their case using the following website: https://ceac.state.gov/ceacstattracker/status.aspx.
For future email correspondence, please include your name and assigned immigrant visa case number(beginning with KBL) in the email’s subject line.
Immigrant Visa Unit/N
U.S. Embassy Kabul
So…. please kindly tell me what this email means.
April 18, 2018 at 14:43
It means you are on AP and must continue to wait.
June 19, 2018 at 05:28
Im now have 90 days Administrative Processing and updated my 5 updates after that period of time I may be refused
Is there any hope of obtaining a visa?
June 19, 2018 at 17:38
How could I know – I don’t know anything about your case?
June 20, 2018 at 06:01
😀 😀 😀 thank you mr simon 😀
June 19, 2018 at 05:31
They took Facebook, Twitter and phone numbers how this procedure could affect the visa
June 20, 2018 at 07:23
So now I am confused. These checks start before or after interview?
June 20, 2018 at 14:38
AP is after the interview.
July 14, 2018 at 08:19
My case has been updated on CEAC first time after several weeks since I am under AP. Is there any rough time estimation from first update to end of process in accordance with previous experiences ? Some days, weeks ?
July 14, 2018 at 14:43
September 7, 2018 at 13:10
Hello , regarding the AOS adjustment of status, does FBI background check ever happen it not complete by September 30th ? If so if there is any way to speed up the process ? Thank you in advance
September 7, 2018 at 14:15
THere is no way to speed it up, and as you were already told by Mom you won’t get your approval if the check is not cleared by the end on September.
October 9, 2018 at 02:54
I didn’t know it might takes one year so just stopped checking after finishing the deadline for 2014 lottery winner application time! Is there any chance to be informed about the status now (after 4 years?)
October 9, 2018 at 03:53
May 22, 2019 at 00:38
I hope you’re doing well.
I have a complicated situation with my DV case. I have been residing in the US since 2016 with pending asylum case and have been selected for DV lottery for 2019 (case # 2019EU15***). Because I had a 3 month violation in my immigration status when I applied for asylum I couldn’t do adjustment of status. So, I chose consular processing in the third country and had my interview yesterday (May 21) . Before leaving the US I obtained an advance parole.
However during the interview the consular officer told me that there is a removal process in my case and put me in administrative processing. (I checked my case status online and contacted my attorney and there is no removal order in my case.) He returned my passport and advance parole document and told me that if I choose to return to the US my DV case will be considered abandoned. The complication is that my advance parole was given until June 1. So my question is did I understand the consul correctly that I cannot wait for admin. processing in the US? And secondly what would you advice me to do in this situation?
Thank you very much,
May 22, 2019 at 00:49
You should ask your lawyer. You might find this gets resolved in the next few days OR it could drag on.