9 FAM 103.4 

(U) Visa Office Contact for Legal Issues - legalnet@state.gov

(CT:VISA-304;   03-16-2017)
(Office of Origin: CA/VO/L/R)

9 FAM 103.4-1  (U) In General

(CT:VISA-60;   02-25-2016)

(U) There is no appeal process for visa refusals; however, applicants and their representatives of record may pose legal questions regarding pending or recently completed visa cases by email to LegalNet@State.gov.  See 9 FAM 601.7-3 for information regarding correspondence with attorneys or other intermediaries. 

9 FAM 103.4-2  (U) Purpose and Scope of LegalNet

(CT:VISA-60;   02-25-2016)

a. (U) The Visa Office has a dedicated email channel, LegalNet@State.gov, available only for case-specific questions on the interpretation or application of immigration law.  LegalNet serves to ensure a streamlined legal review of inquiries involving legal issues, so inquirers receive an answer in an efficient manner.  The LegalNet staff works with posts and other divisions in the Visa Office to prepare responses to appropriate inquiries that involve legal issues.

b. (U) Posts can refer applicants and their representatives to LegalNet at any time, provided the inquiry falls within the scope of 9 FAM 103.4-2 paragraph c, below.  An applicant or representative submitting an inquiry to LegalNet should make sure the inquiry falls within one of the categories listed in paragraph c, below, and ensure that the request includes all of the required information and documents listed in 9 FAM 103.4-3.

c.  (U) LegalNet will provide substantive responses only to the following categories of inquiries:

(1)  (U) Legal questions about a specific case when the applicant or representative has attempted to contact post at least twice without receiving a final response, and where 30 days have passed since the second inquiry (unless action is required sooner to avert significant harm to the applicant);

(2)  (U) Legal questions about a specific case in which the applicant or representative has received a final response from post, but believes it to be wrong as a matter of law;

(3)  (U) Legal questions about specific cases involving T visas, U visas, Diversity visas, or adoption visas; and

(4)  (U) Legal questions about specific cases involving the Child Status Protection Act (CSPA) or the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA).

d. (U) For all other inquiries, LegalNet will respond with a message providing the public inquiries telephone number or other point of contact information, as appropriate.

e. (U) LegalNet will not provide a substantive response to the categories of inquiries listed below.  Instead, LegalNet may provide a standard form response, listing communication channels potentially available for such inquiries.

(1)  (U) Questions from anyone other than an applicant or representative of record;

(2)  (U) Requests to review factual determinations made by a U.S. consular officer, including a refusal under INA 214(b) in a B1/B2 visa application;

(3)  (U) Requests for case status updates;

(4)  (U) Questions that are general, speculative, or hypothetical in nature;

(5)  (U) Legal questions in cases where the consular officer has not yet reached a final determination of the applicant's eligibility for a visa, except as outlined in (c)(3 and 4) above;

(6)  (U) Matters relating to visa cases that have already been returned to a USCIS Service Center;

(7)  (U) Matters related to visa appointment scheduling; 

(8)  (U) Requests for a status update for an I-601 waiver;

(9)  (U) Requests for details in visa cases refused under INA 212(a)(3)(B) or Section 306 of the Enhanced Border Security and Visa Reform Act of 2002 (EBSVRA);

(10) (U) Requests for explanations of visa revocations or cancellations;

(11) (U) Requests for the Visa Office to forward additional documentation to post;

(12) (U) Requests regarding a case that is still being processed at the National Visa Center, including those relating to an Affidavit of Support, immigrant visa fee, case status, or procedural information;

(13) (U) Requests for Advisory Opinions in pending or refused Visas 92 and Visas 93 cases; or

(14) (U) Requests to substitute priority dates or assign an old priority date to a new petition, except for inquiries about Western Hemisphere priority dates.

9 FAM 103.4-3  (U) Requirements for LegalNet Inquiries

(CT:VISA-60;   02-25-2016)

a. (U) All inquiries submitted to LegalNet must refer to only one case per email and must follow the guidelines below.

(1)  (U) The subject line of the email must include:

(a)  (U) The applicant's full name;

(b)  (U) The post processing the case;

(c)  (U) The National Visa Center case number for immigrant visa cases;

(d)  (U) The applicant's passport number and/or the USCIS receipt number for nonimmigrant visa cases; and

(e)  (U) The citation to the relevant statute or regulation at issue.  For example, the subject line should read as follows: LAST NAME, First Name; POST; CDJ2015000000; INA 212(a)(6)(C)(i)

(2)  (U) The body of the email must include:

(a)  (U) The principal applicant's full name as it appears in the applicant's passport, the applicant’s date of birth, and the applicant’s place of birth;

(b)  (U) The location of the pending or denied visa application, the applicant's visa classification, and any refusal code; and

(c)  (U) A brief summary of the situation and legal contention.

(3)  (U) The email attachments must include:

(a)  (U) Copies of all previous correspondence with post; and

(b)  (U) If the request is sent by the applicant’s representative, a signed G-28 form and the requesting attorney or representative's contact information.

(c)  (U) NOTE:  We will not accept any emails with attachments over 1 megabyte (MB) in size

b. (U) A submission to LegalNet that is missing any of the above required information or documents may be returned with a form response identifying the missing information. 

9 FAM 103.4-4  (U) Processing of LegalNet Requests – Responses to Inquiries

(CT:VISA-60;   02-25-2016)

a. (U) Within seven (7) business days of receiving a new inquiry that meets all requirements above, LegalNet will provide notice that the inquiry has been received and is being processed.  The time frame for substantive responses depends on the complexity of the matter and availability of essential information.

b. (U) Applicants or designated representatives may submit a follow-up email to LegalNet, along with copies of any earlier LegalNet correspondence, if no substantive response is received from LegalNet within thirty (30) days of the initial notice that the inquiry is being processed.

9 FAM 103.4-5  (U) Processing of LegalNet Requests – Internal

(CT:VISA-304;   03-16-2017)

(U) The following non-binding, internal guidelines relate to allocation of responsibilities and aspirational timelines.  These are documented to assist State Department personnel and promote internal consistency, transparency, and accountability.  The guidelines may not be relied upon by the public and may not be referenced for any purpose other than State Department internal monitoring of case progress.  LegalNet should not be requested or expected to disclose the status of cases under consideration.  Depending on the complexity of the inquiry and workloads of relevant posts and offices, the guidelines below may not apply.   

(1)  (U) LegalNet staff coordinates incoming inquiries, reviews cases in the appropriate database, primarily the Consular Consolidated Database (CCD), and contacts post to verify case status when necessary.

(2)  (U) LegalNet staff will forward subject-specific inquiries to the appropriate offices as follows:

(a)  (U) Inquiries regarding INA 212(a) ineligibilities (other than security-related grounds) will be forwarded to the Advisory Opinions Division (CA/VO/L/A);

(b)  (U) J-Waiver inquiries will be directed to the Waiver Review Division (CA/VO/DO) at 212ewaiver@state.gov;

(c)  Unavailable  

(d)  (U) Child Status Protection Act and Follow-to-Join inquiries will be forwarded to the National Visa Center (NVC), CA/VO/L/A, and/or Post (as appropriate);

(e)  (U) A, G, and NATO Visa inquiries will be forwarded to the Diplomatic Liaison Division (CA/VO/DO) or to CA/VO/L/A (as appropriate);

(f)   (U) Petition-based legal inquiries will be forwarded to CA/VO/L/A and or Post (as appropriate).

(3)  (U) LegalNet staff will maintain and update an internal tracker on the shared (S) drive for all incoming legal inquiries and outgoing replies.

(4)  (U) LegalNet staff will draft and send final responses to requesters after collecting and consolidating input from relevant offices.

(5)  (U) Target Timelines: 

(a)  (U) LegalNet will send an automated "Acknowledgement of Receipt" advising requesters that their inquiry has been received and is being processed. 

(b)  (U) LegalNet staff should aim to forward inquiries to appropriate offices via Action Officers within five (5) working days of receiving the inquiry. 

(c)  (U) Where no additional information is required, Action Officers in the appropriate office should aim to respond to LegalNet requests within five (5) working days.  

(d)  (U) Where additional information is required, Action Officers should aim to make relevant requests within ten (10) days of receipt of the inquiry from LegalNet.

(e)  (U) Posts should aim to respond to requests for additional information for a LegalNet inquiry within ten (10) days of receipt of the request, if the information is in the post's possession.  Action Officers should contact posts that have not responded to requests within eleven (11) days, and should continue to follow-up with posts bi-weekly.

(f)   (U) Action Officers should aim to send draft responses to LegalNet within five (5) working days after all required input and information is obtained. 

(g)  (U) Action Officers should include LegalNet on all communications regarding a case and LegalNet should record all significant actions in the tracker, as appropriate.