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An Added Burden to an Already Tedious Process

The U.S. Department of State recently introduced a new supplemental questionnaire that will enable Consulate officers to obtain information for enhanced screening of certain visa applicants applying for immigrant as well as non-immigrant visas. 

As a part of the screening process, the U.S. Consulate Officers will decide based on each individual visa applicant’s background which one of them warrants additional security checks.  The U.S. Department of State estimates that approximately 65,000 people (less than 1% of 13 million visa applicants worldwide) may be requested to complete the supplemental questionnaire each year. 

The information requested in the supplemental questionnaire is wide-ranging, and requires disclosure of the applicant’s full travel history for the past 15 years, including locations visited, dates, and source of funds for the visits; all passport numbers; names and dates of birth of all siblings, children, and spouses/partners; complete address and dates of residence for the past 15 years; employment history for the past 15 years; and all social media handles, phone numbers and email addresses for the past 5 years. 

Should the Consular Officer find a reason for the applicant to fill the supplemental questionnaire, s/he will inform the visa applicant, allow the applicant to complete the supplemental questionnaire offsite and email the completed document so that visa processing may resume. Although, the supplemental questionnaire states that providing the requested information is voluntary, failure to provide the requested information will most likely result in a denial of the visa application.  

Use of the supplemental questionnaire has been approved through the end of November 2017 and this timeline is likely to be extended thereby contributing to delays in visa issuance, processing timelines and appointment availability. 

By Manizeh Mistry, Deputy Head – Global Immigration