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Administrative Processing/Security Clearance

This page explains the procedure regarding security clearance that some applicants for an initial entry visa or a renewal of an entry visa will undergo.

Anyone who is subject to Administrative Processing will face delays in obtaining a visa, some longer than others. For this reason, if you need to renew your entry visa and you may be likely to undergo this security clearance procedure, you may consider traveling outside the U.S. only during the University's summer vacation period.  

Administrative Processing and Security Clearance

Administrative Processing may be applied randomly to international students and scholars from certain countries and/or from certain fields (usually STEM fields) who are applying for a visa.  The U.S. Embassy/Consulate may request a security clearance of anyone, prior to issuing an initial or extension of visa. Security Clearances could take from 4 weeks to 4 months or more to complete. Most STEM fields are listed in the government’s Technology Alert List (TAL).

  • Individuals with special skills in STEM fields (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics, etc.) from any country are more likely to undergo administrative processing.
  • Applicants from countries on the list of state sponsors of terrorism receive special consular review.  Certain organizations have been designated as "foreign terrorist organizations" under INA § 219. Applicants with membership or affiliation with these organizations will also receive special review.

Currently there are three countries designated as state sponsors of terrorism:

  • Iran
  • Sudan
  • Syria

Typically, the U.S. Embassy will validate the Form I-20 or DS-2019 and place it in a sealed envelope for you to present at the Port of Entry to the U.S. If they place it in a sealed envelope, do not open it; let the inspector at the airport open the envelope. More information on administrative processing.   


It may be helpful to have these additional documents in hand when you apply for a visa:

Official transcript(s)

Official transcript(s) from your previous undergraduate and/or graduate study; and your present program of study at UMass Dartmouth.

Certificate of registration

The Student Service Center can provide you with an official statement showing that you are registered for the next semester.

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