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Visa Denials, Delays, and Administrative Processing

Students who are applying for an F-1 (student) visa work directly with a United States (U.S.) consular office under the supervision of the countries U.S. embassy and the Department of State.

The consular officer has the task of determining the suitability of the requested visa based on regulations, the evidence provided by the applicant, and current U.S. policy. This can cause some visas to be delayed, sent to Administrative Processing, or denied. The Bureau of Consular Affairs has a page addressing Visa Denials. This is the first resource to review if you have received notice of a delay or denial.

You can find several tips on applying for a visa here.

Administrative Processing and Denial under INA Section 221(g)

You may receive a denial notification marked denial under INA section 221(g). This can mean two different things:

  1. Your visa application was incomplete and/or further documentation was needed to make a decision on your application.
  2. Your application requires Administrative Processing.

If your application was incomplete or needed additional information, submitting the required information can be sufficient to receive an approval. The embassy or consulate will provide you with a letter stating the additional information that is needed.

If your application requires Administrative Processing, you will be notified of the next steps you must take. Administrative Processing can add a 3 to 6 month delay to your visa issuance. The Bureau of Consular Affairs provides a webpage on Administrative Processing.

Understanding Administrative Processing

Administrative Processing can also indicate that an additional security clearance is needed. This is the most common cause for Administrative Processing for student visa applicants at the University of Tennessee. The additional security clearance is typically connected to either work in a science, technology, engineering, mathematics (STEM) field or connected to the country of citizenship.

Fields of study connected to Administrative processing are often related to the following fields:

Conventional Munitions
Nuclear Technology
Rocket Systems
Rocket System and Unmanned Air Vehicle (UAV) Subsystems
Navigation, Avionics and Flight Control Usable in Rocket Systems and Unmanned Air Vehicles (UAV)
Chemical, Biotechnology and Biomedical Engineering
Remote Sensing, Imaging and Reconnaissance
Advanced Computer/Microelectronic Technology
Materials Technology
Information Security
Laser and Directed Energy Systems Technology
Sensors and Sensor Technology
Marine Technology
Urban Planning

Important, Administrative Processing does not mean that an application will be denied. It means that there will be a delay while the security clearance is completed. It may be necessary to work with your department and defer admission while under Administrative Processing.

Denial under Section INI 214(b)

Denial under section INI 214(b) is the most common denial for F-1 visa applicants. Denial under 214(b) means that the consular officer felt that one or more of the following applied:

  1. Failure to establish non-immigrant intent.
  2. Failure to show connections to applicant’s home country.
  3. Failure to establish that the stay in the U.S. will be temporary.
  4. Failure to establish sufficient proof of funding.
  5. Failure to establish that the applicant intends to engage in study.

Denial under 214(b) can often be overcome with additional evidence. See the The Bureau of Consular Affairs page on Visa Denials for more information.

Who can help me with a visa denial?

Overcoming a visa denial can be challenging. If a denial can be overcome, it typically involves submitting additional proof and documentation as requested by the consular officer. It is possible to engage legal counsel, but this is typically not recommended. If you choose to engage legal counsel, we recommend using an American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) certified lawyer.

International Student and Scholar Services (ISSS) cannot expedite or impact visa decisions at all. If additional information is requested as part of Administrative Processing, we can work with your academic department in order to provide this information.