Increased scrutiny for US visas

This is Stephanie of IMS.

I wanted to write about recent developments regarding U.S. visa interviews at the embassies in Japan. Starting sometime last month, routine visa applications were suddenly faced with extremely strict screening during the Embassy visa interview. Although this change remains anecdotal, we have learned of a sudden increase in visa denials and administrative processing cases when previously, visa applications of similar kind would have been expected to pass the interview easily. Consular officer decisions are becoming harsher towards the burden of proof of home-ties to Japan and nonimmigrant intent. While administrative processing allows the applicant to submit additional documents to strengthen their case, the end result is not always an approved visa.

What is administrative processing?

Administrative processing is requested by the consular officer when they have determined they need additional documents or additional time to review an application. The visa application is placed on hold and the applicant is given a letter detailing what they must do to have their application proceed (if applicable). Documents and passport are left with the consular officer and mailed back to the applicant once the consular officer has reached a decision.

Applications currently in administrative processing can have their status checked here.

As always, visa applicants are recommended to apply for a visa as early as possible to avoid delays in travel plans. Unfortunately, this increased scrutiny seems to be related to harsher stances on immigration and visas announced by the U.S. government. We will continue to watch for major changes that will affect our clients and services.