For some visa applicants additional security checks may need to be performed prior to a visa being issued. These security checks are often referred to as “Special Administrative Processing”. These are done for a variety of different reasons including your country of citizenship, field of study/research, having a name similar to that of an individual in a U.S. criminal database. It is important to understand that additional processing is not a visa denial it is a delay. Most processing will be completed within 60 days. Once this “Special Administrative Processing” has been initiated by the U.S. Consulate it cannot be stopped until it has been completed in Washington D.C. and no inquiries may be made on your behalf until 60 days have passed from the initiation of the processing.
There are a variety of security checks that may be performed for a variety of different reasons including:
- CONDOR clearance (classified criteria)
- MANTIS clearance. This is a “sensitive technology” alert based on whether an applicant is involved in any of the fields on the Critical Fields List (CFL) of DOS’ Technology Alert List (TAL). The TAL includes an expanded list of technologies with potential “dual-use” applications. These are technologies that may appear benign but have potential military applications as well. The list is very comprehensive and includes almost every possible associated technology or skill involving chemistry, biochemistry, immunology, chemical engineering, civil engineering and pharmacology to name a few. Having such a broad all-inclusive list means that many research scientists, physicians, academics and engineers involved in any of these fields could be subject to the MANTIS clearance. It is very possible that a consular officer will decide to err on the side of caution and obtain a MANTIS clearance prior to issuing a visa.
- Involves the NCIC Criminal clearance. Unfortunately, for those with common names (Smith, Kim, Mohammad, etc.) false hits are occurring with increased regularity. An NCIC clearance can take four to six weeks to process due to the high volume of false positives.
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