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Immigration Update

Increase in Security Clearances for U.S. Visa Applicants
Immigration Team
January 13, 2009

While all applicants for nonimmigrant work visas such as H-1B and L-1 A are subject to a standard name and criminal background check as well as clearance in the Petition Information Management System (PIMS), these checks normally take no more than 24 hours to complete. 

However there has been a significant increase in the initiation of additional security clearances, particularly for applicants with technical expertise.  These types of clearances typically take 14-60 days depending on the type of clearance required, however some clearances can take 90-180 days.  Applicants are required to remain outside of the U.S. while the clearance is pending.  The U.S. Consulate will not make a determination on whether additional security clearances will be needed prior to the foreign national's appearance at the U.S. Consulate abroad.  Therefore any foreign national traveling abroad to apply for or renew a visa needs to be aware that they may be subject to an additional security clearance and required to spend an extended period of time abroad. 

MVA advises companies and foreign nationals working on nonimmigrant visas to be aware of the potential for delays in the visa issuance process.  Employees who need to attend an appointment at a U.S. Consulate abroad for the issuance of a new visa are advised to contact their MVA Immigration Team contact well in advance of their travel to discuss any potential security clearance issues.