**1/9/19: Consular visa issuance by the U.S. Department of State, while continuing during the U.S. government shutdown, may become subject to delay as the funding lapse continues, so petitioners and artists should be sure to build in extra time, especially in light of the previous Executive Order revocation by the Trump administration that already increased wait times at consulates. Consular officers were reportedly instructed last year to take more time with vetting of visa applicants across all classifications, so it is vital to leave more time than usual for the consular process.
On occasion, the processing time for a visa can be slowed considerably if security-related concerns come into play. Security clearance procedures can be invoked either as a result of responses on the DS-160, or for other reasons. If “additional administrative processing” (also known as a Security Advisory Opinion, or SAO) is needed, the turnaround times can be unpredictable. In general, the vast majority of SAOs are turned around within 4-6 weeks. If you have a need to speed the process up, make any special circumstances, such as performance-related deadlines, known to the consular post at the time of application, or consider contacting your members of Congress to see if they are willing to help.
Security-related considerations can be invoked if there are typos on the USCIS-generated I-797 approval notices, which contain an alphabetical list of the beneficiaries, their birth date and country of birth. In consequence, it is essential that the petitioner: a) not rely solely on the beneficiary or the group representative to provide individual data such as names, birthdates and the like; b) rather, to the extent possible, to take that data directly from the passport biographical data pages; c) take extreme care in entering all pertinent beneficiary data on the petition or beneficiary list, and re-check it several times, making sure that the names used correspond exactly to those in the passports, and that the birthdates are accurate and not transposed from any other format; d) check the I-797 filing receipt, or the e-receipt in case of Premium Processing against the list submitted to USCIS, and notify USCIS (by fax or email if premium processing or by calling the USCIS Contact Center if regular processing, 1-800-375-5283) immediately if errors appear on the list; e) re-check the approval notice when received and respond similarly if need be. In short, implement a zero-typo rule for beneficiary information.