DS 5535 is a security check form issued by US embassy at the time or after your visa interview. It is meant for extra security checks primarily meant to scan your last 15 year history of your travel, employment and residence.
It was first started in 2017 when Trump started the ban on middle east countries and was supposed to be only issued to people who are flagged as a threat to US national security.
Off late, we have seen that this form is issued more often and that too for people who have been working in US for more than 5 years with no previous history of any illegal activity.
Anybody can get DS5535 security check form 221g admin processing including B1, B2, H1B, H4, L and any other US visa.
DS 5535 Processing Time
DS5535 processing can take anywhere between 2 weeks to 8+ months.
Its a black hole due to the security checks that are sent to various US agencies to verify your profile. Until a positive response is received from each agency, US embassy will not issue you the visa.
The processing time varies by each US consulate and there is no fixed time.
DS 5535 processing time in Mexico
Many people have reported that they got their DS 5535 cleared within 14 days from US embassy in Mexico. The quickest cases are normally the ones where you have only traveled to USA in your life.
But, other people who have traveled to multiple countries like Canada, US, Japan, Europe and other such places have waited for more than 60 days to get a 5535 clearance.
If you have traveled to any middle east country like Saudi Arabia, Turkey or North Korea which are part of US visa ban, you have very high probability of receiving this DS5535 in your US visa interview.
5535 Processing Time in India
Indian form 221g for DS5535 is taking more an average of 60+ days at this time at consulates of Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata and Chennai.
There are some dedicated DS5535 WhatsApp tracker groups active at this time for various H1B, H4, B1/B2 and other visa type cases.
If you want to join the whatsapp group, please contact us and you will be given the link only if you have the DS5535 case.
What Happens in Security Checks?
US embassy sends your information to various other security agencies in US who then try to validate the addresses and your employment information.
The purpose is to check your background for any criminal activities that may be affect US national security. It is completely random and nobody knows why some people get DS5535 while others don’t.
Usually, a red mark will be placed on your DS160 or your passport at the time of ASC biometric process if your profile is flagged for security checks by US systems.
There is no official information about what all agencies are involved but people have reported that clearance is requested from FBI, CIA, DHS, ICE and others. Your application is also sent to Washington DC for final clearance before issuing you the visa.
In 99% of cases that I have observed, your US visa is approved after 5535 security clearance. It is only a matter of time and I do understand that waiting is frustrating.
There is no way to expedite the DS 5535 security checks.
It is possible that visa officer said “Visa approved” and then you may get an email next day to fill DS5535. It is normal and many people have seen this behavior.
Some people get an email within 3 hours of interview and some get after a week. There is no clear pattern.
US consulates have issued DS5535 for kids. Anybody can be flashed by US security system for security clearance.
You can apply for another US visa but it will also be sent to DS5535 admin processing. Note that DS5535 is issued against your name or profile and not your visa application. Hence, until the security clearance is received against your name from Washington DC, none of your US visa applications can be approved.
Example: People who got DS5535 after H1B visa interview tried applying for H4 and they again got the DS 5535. Ultimately, the visa was approved only after getting DS 5535 security clearance.
Can Attorney Expedite DS5535?
Your attorney or you can contact US state department or US embassy after your case has been pending for 60 days to get a status. But, most people just get a standard response that it is pending.
We recommend Nimer Law for mandamus cases due to their quick turnaround time. If you are ready to file mandamus, use referral code ‘am22tech‘ to get $250 off with Nimer Law firm on their attorney fees.
You can contact your congressman too for help as suggested by Mona Shaw Associates Law firm in New York. We also recommend to wait at-least 60 days. Normally, no-one’s request is entertained by US embassy if it is a security matter.
Another law firm with name Soberalski Immigration Law advises to be mindful of what pictures, videos and comments you share on social media as it can have a negative effect on your immigration journey to US.
Murthy law firm has also mentioned that expected wait time is at-least 60 days for DS5535 processing.
Visa Approval After Security Check Clearance
Once the visa is approved after DS5535 clearance, it will be marked or annotated as ‘Security Clearance Received”.
The only drawback of this ‘clearance received’ message is that you will not be eligible for Dropbox option for your next stamping.
Information Required on DS5535 Form
- Last 15 years of travel history with country names, stay addresses, source of funds for travel and places visited.
- List of all passports held till date.
- Siblings (brothers and sisters) – Provide the full name(s) and date of birth of any sibling (full, half, step, adopted), living or deceased.
- Children – Provide the full name(s) and date of birth of any child (minor and adult), living or deceased.
- Spouse – Provide the full name(s) of any current or previous spouse or civil/domestic partner, living or deceased.
- Address – Provide all addresses where you have lived during the last 15 years, if not already provided in your DS160 application.
- Phone Number – Provide all phone numbers you have used in the last five years, including primary, secondary, work, home, and mobile numbers.
- E-mail – Provide all email addresses you have used in the last five years, including primary, secondary, work, personal, and educational addresses.
- Social Media – Facebook, Twitter etc – Provide your unique user name for any websites or applications you have used to create or share content (photos, videos, status updates, etc.) as part of a public profile within the last five years.
- Last 15 years of employment history including employer name, country, address, job duties, job title, employer phone number.
Sample DS 5535 Form, Instructions
US embassy requires you to fill the DS 5535 form in same editable PDF file that they send you over email. Do not save the file as password protected file or do not convert it into a word or any other format file.
You need to reply to same embassy email address after filling the form with same editable PDF file.
Open link in new window.
You can write additional addresses, employment information and any other information in a Microsoft word file.
Attach both the files in the reply to consulate email. You should receive a confirmation of receipt of your form 5535 within 1-3 days from embassy.
If you are unsure of the answer to a question, please provide a response to the best of your knowledge. For example, if you are unsure of an exact address, provide the city, state, and street name if you can recall them.
If you think a particular question does not apply to you or your circumstances, please write “not applicable” or “N/A.”
H1B Extension DS-5535 in RFE
Some people have also reported that USCIS has also started sending RFE for filling form DS 5535. We could not independently confirm it though.
Have you received any such RFE? Please share in the comments below.