When reviewing visa applications from prospective scholars the consular post conducts an initial review of the application and interviews the applicant about his/her planned activity in the U.S. It is at this initial stage that clear and concise information about the scholar's teaching, research, or other activity should be presented. It is also at this point that the consular officer will make an assessment of the applicants “intent” to immigrate to the United States. In most cases, the visa is issued within a matter of days or weeks. However, in some cases it is decided that further checks are needed or the visa is denied. Most often, the reason for a denial is based on a determination made by the consular officer that the scholar's presumed intent is to immigrate to the United States. The visa denial letter will cite section 214(b) of the Immigration and Nationality Act. It is often difficult to disprove this assumption as it is by nature very subjective. Please review the visa denial information provided by the U.S. Department of State (DOS).
Issues that may cause problems or delays in the visa application process include:
- Spelling inconsistencies on the applicant’s legal documents (passport, visa application, supporting documentation). This can cause confusion and delay. The name given on the visa application and supporting documentation should be exactly the same as the name listed in the passport.
- The applicant has not read and followed the tips and guidance on the website of the U.S. consular post having jurisdiction over the visa application; this can cause delays or denial.
- The consular post cannot understand the kind of work the person is doing and officers cannot assess the risk/benefit of granting the person a visa. A security clearance will likely be requested if the field is unclear.
- The applicant is from a country considered to pose a risk or is working in a field that is considered "sensitive" in some way.
- There are other individuals with the same or similar names. The consulate must rule out any incidents and clear up any "hits" the Consular Lookout (CLASS) system reveals on the name(s) in question.
The consular officer may tell the individual that a security advisory opinion (SAO) is needed and that he/she will be notified when it has been completed. In most cases, security clearances are completed within 30 days; however, there is no set time frame. The U.S. Department of State will neither discuss nor reveal the reason for a security advisory opinion on a particular case. In these cases there is nothing that can be done to speed up the process.