Confidentiality of Visa Records

Press Statement
Office of the Spokesperson
Washington, DC
July 26, 2012

Question: Is the issuance of a waiver during the visa process protected under visa confidentiality as part of the visa process?

Answer: Yes, we maintain waiver requests and decisions as part of our visa records, and visa records are confidential under Section 222(f) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA). For the purposes of INA Section 222(f), a “record” includes information or documents pertaining to an individual visa applicant.

A “record” may consist of:

(1) Any document presented by an applicant in connection with a visa application and retained by post at the conclusion of a visa interview;

(2) Any item, which may have a bearing on the applicant’s visa application, submitted to the post by the applicant, by other agencies, or by the Department, such as an advisory opinion; and

(3) Any item generated by the post dealing with the applicant's entitlement to visa status or ineligibility including, but not limited to:

(a) Correspondence with other posts about a visa;

(b) Correspondence with the applicant;

(c) Investigative reports;

(d) Immigrant visa and nonimmigrant visa refusal worksheets; and

(e) The post's requests for advisory opinions from the Department.

INA Section 222(f), the basis for confidentiality of visa records, is distinct from the Privacy Act of 1974, which prohibits disclosure of personal information about U.S. citizens and legal permanent residents without their written consent.

PRN: 2012/1218