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While all individuals applying for a U.S. visa are screened before the issuance of a visa, certain individuals may be subject to further screening or clearance. This determination is made at the initial interview so it is critical that you have documentation about the nature of your research or activity. While the majority of visas are issued within a matter of days, there are instances where the issuance of the visa will be delayed until the consulate obtains clearances through the Department of State in Washington, D.C.
Issues that may trigger a security clearance and/or cause a delay in the visa issuance process include:
- Inconsistent spelling of your name
- Your name is similar to others in the Consular Lookout system requiring further investigation
- Nature of research/study may be considered a "sensitive technology" requiring a security clearance (Visa Mantis)
- If you are from North Korea, Cuba, Syria, Sudan, Iran and Libya you will likely be subject to an additional security clearance process that can take several months
Security Advisory Opinion
If a security advisory opinion is requested by the Consulate your visa will not be issued until the clearance is received. On average this takes about 30 days, but can take longer. There is no way to expedite this process nor find out the status of the case.
Researchers working in science and technology fields should check with the VISA office before traveling. Remember these rules apply if you are applying for a visa in your home country or in a third country, so make your plans accordingly. You should also discuss your travel plans with your faculty supervisor or adviser as he or she needs to be aware of the possibility that you may get "stuck." If your clearance has been pending for more than 4 weeks, please contact the VISA office.