DOS to Increase Scrutiny of Visa Applications
Over the last two weeks, Department of State Secretary Rex Tillerson issued four cables indicating the DOS will enhance screening of visa applications, identify "populations warranting increased scrutiny," and order mandatory social media checks for applicants who have ever been in a territory controlled by the Islamic State (ISIS).
Increased scrutiny and more detailed interviews take time and consequently, the State Department will schedule fewer visa interviews, which will result in longer wait time for visa appointments going forward.
In visa interviews, applicants should be prepared for questions about their travel and residence history over the past 15 years, and phone numbers, email addresses and social media accounts used over the past 5 years.
Visa applicants should also expect more “administrative processing,” which is a background check performed after the visa interview and before visa issuance. Administrative processing may add 3 to 6 weeks to the visa approval process.