Mindanao Visa Applicants Face Additional Administrative Processing
Mindanao US Visa Applicants are Facing
Additional Administrative Processing Recently
Additional Administrative Processing for Mindanao US Visa Applicants
The US Embassy in Manila is recently using additional administrative processing on many Mindanao US visa applicants. Now, there is more scrutiny on Mindanao US visa applicants at the US Embassy Manila.
Most likely for the well intention purpose of US national security, the implementation of this new additional administrative processing of Mindanao applicants is increasing. On the other hand, the additional administrative processing is also really affecting innocent families. For example, these families are apart for long times (up to a year or more) waiting for their visas to reunite.
Proof of Visa Processing Changes
Our website LoveVisaLife, also has a Facebook discussion group K-1 Fiance IR-1/CR-1 Spouse US Visa & Adjusting to USA Life- LoveVisaLife. In our discussion group, we have seen this additional administrative processing for security vetting starting in September of 2017. In addition, the amount of additional security vetting for those from Mindanao increased significantly after the first day of 2018. Also, the only Philippine visa applicants that we see receiving this additional vetting by the US Embassy Manila are from Mindanao.
In addition, the Manila Bulletin, the Philippine leading newspaper, has confirmed “More stringent vetting for US visa applicants“.
Time Frame for Additional Processing
The visa applicants from Mindanao under scrutiny are told to complete Form DS-5535. This form is the Supplemental Questions for Visa Applicants as part of the presidential memorandum. For this purpose, the embassy uses this form to gather the additional information requested by the consular officer.
Concerning normal US Embassy Manila visa processing, it is typically very quick. Visa processing, issuance and delivery averages between 5 – 12 days after the successful embassy interview. This seems to still be the case for most of the visa applicants from other Philippine islands other than Mindanao.
Now, many Mindanao applicants are told at the end of the interview that they are now on one month of 221g administrative processing. In particular, the additional administrative processing is for additional background checks.
221g additional administrative processing is also known as Security Advisory Opinion (SAO). Regarding this, it is the time period during which visa applications undergo additional review outside of the “normal” visa processing times. Administrative processing takes place after the visa interview.
It usually takes at least 60 days to resolve the additional administrative processing.
Why the Embassy Scrutiny on Mindanao Applicants
US Presidential Memorandum
On March 6, 2017, US President Donald Trump issued a memorandum to all US embassies and consulates calling for “heightened screening and vetting” for applications for visas.
The Manila Bulletin reported, “In accordance with the President’s March 6, 2017 memorandum on enhancing the screening and vetting of applications for visas, the Department of State will collect additional information from visa applicants worldwide when a consular officer determines that such information is required to confirm identity or conduct more rigorous national security vetting,” US Embassy Press Attachè Molly Koscina said in an email to the Manila Bulletin.
In fact, this new measure now gives US Embassy Consulars broad powers to request more background materials from certain applicants compared to regular applicants. For example, these additional materials include:
- passport and travel history,
- information on relatives,
- address and contact information,
- current and prior email addresses, and
- social media account names.
As a consequence of the presidential memorandum, the visa applicants from Mindanao under scrutiny are told to complete Form DS-5535. This form is the Supplemental Questions for Visa Applicants as part of the presidential memorandum. For this purpose, the embassy uses this form to gather the additional information requested by the consular officer.
Mindanao History of Terrorist Activity
According to the Council on Foreign Affairs, “The southern Philippines have long been a breeding ground for terrorist activity. Militant organizations like the Abu Sayyaf Group and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) operate in the Sulu archipelago and easternmost island of Mindanao…”.
The US Department of State considers the Philippine Island of Mindanao a “Safe Haven” for Terrorists. Refer to the Council on Foreign Affairs article “Terrorism Havens: Philippines” for more detailed information on terrorism and terrorist activities in Mindanao.
In addition, the recent terrorist event in Marawi heightened US national security concerns. For a five month period from March to October, 2017, a Muslim militant group linked to ISIS attacked and took control of parts of Marawi city on Mindanao island. Mindanao was placed under Marshall Law by President Rodrigo Duerte. The Philippine military has since liberated Marawi.
Summary of Why the Mindanao Scrutiny
Because of the history of terrorist activities in Mindanao and the 2017 US Presidential memorandum, it is truly not a surprise that the US Embassy in Manila has taken this action. This is especially true for some Mindanao residents applying for a US Visa.
Therefore, keep in mind that the intention of this scrutiny is for US national security.
On the other hand, there are many peaceful areas of Mindanao that do not see any terrorism. Therefore, many innocent Mindanao visa applicants are put in longer limbo because of the embassy policies. We feel for these families living separate for so long. The current visa process has a long timeframe itself of 8 months to a year. Then, with this new administrative processing, it adds on a couple more months. However, the applicant has control very little control over the process. US national security will always be a priority to the US government.
With this in mind, there are really no other options beside riding out the additional administrative processing.
Prepare for Additional Administrative Processing
In June of 2017, LoveVisaLife saw this coming with the March 16, 2017 presidential memorandum. We saw that the presidential memorandum included approval of additional visa scrutiny. As a result, we wrote an article, “Using Social Media During U.S. Visa Application Process“.
In summary, this post describes how to use social media properly while applying for a US visa. Therefore, use this article as a guide in using social media properly while applying for a US visa.
If you do not use social media properly, it can cause you delay, refusal or many questions. However, if you use social media properly, it can actually help you by proving a bona fide relationship. In addition, it helps you with any additional administrative processing.
In addition, keep in mind the following:
- Be careful who you associate with in real and on social media.
- Don’t use any anti-American words or hatred to America. Think before posting any anti-american or other political ideas.
- Talking of support for terrorism in any way could hurt you.
- Discussion of support for violence could hurt to your visa chances.
If you follow these guides, let’s hope that any additional administrative processing is short. We hope that you are reunited with your loved one soon.