Significant Delays in Visa Processing due to Database Crash at Consulates Worldwide
The State Department has been posting updates regarding a database crash and the backlog which currently still exists at Embassies and Consulates world-wide. Today, the State Department posted an FAQ that provides more information about what is happening and how your participants may be affected. Please use the following site to continue to monitor the progress regarding this situation, as well as to view the FAQs they have created: http://travel.state.gov/content/visas/english.html
CBP posted I-94 frequently asked questions, including what records a traveler has access to, obtaining travel records for previous or expired passports, filing a FOIA request, and the I-94 automation process. Read the CBP I-94 FAQs here.
Customs and Border Patrol Considers §221(g) Administrative Processing a Visa Refusal
CBP may deem the failure to disclose visa refusals for administrative processing or incorrect visa category on the Form DS-160 as a misrepresentation when completing the Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA) form, which could make the applicant inadmissible under INA § 212(a)(6)(C)(i).1 Therefore, when filing the ESTA form, you should report visa “refusals” as “denials” when refusals are for § 221(g) administrative processing or for selecting the incorrect visa category on Form DS-160.
The Department of State (DOS) treats a consular officer’s decision to suspend a visa application for administrative processing under INA § 221(g) as a visa refusal. This is true even though the administrative processing notice frequently asks for documents or other information, and after those materials are submitted, the visa is granted.
Because DOS treats the suspension for administrative processing as a refusal, United States Customs and Border Protection (CBP) requires that such refusals be reported on the ESTA application. The ESTA application asks “Have you ever been denied a U.S. visa or entry into the U.S. or had a U.S. visa canceled?” If the applicant’s visa application is under administrative processing by a consular post, the applicant should answer “yes” to this question on ESTA. CBP will manually review the ESTA application to determine whether the applicant is eligible for travel. Generally, CBP will issue a decision on such applications within 72 hours of submission (AILA Doc. No. 09110565).3
Preparation of New DS-160 Due to Incorrect Choice of Visa Classification
If a visa applicant does not select the correct visa category on Form DS-160, the consular officer may require the applicant to complete a new Form DS-160 with the correct visa category before the visa may be issued. As to the Form DS-160 submitted with the incorrect visa category selection, the consular officer may enter a § 221(g) notation in its system. Because of this possibility, even if the applicant is not told that the consular officer has entered such a notation, the applicant should also disclose a visa refusal on ESTA as a denial and explain the circumstances in the space provided.
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