After you go for US Visa stamping, if it is approved, you get your passport with US visa stamp foil glued inside it. Sometimes, you may see some text in the annotation section, like the company name or other details… But it can be confusing when you see some text that says “Clearance Received” or something along that lines in the same annotation section.
Also, when you are applying for a US visa and filling out the DS-160 form or on USTravelDocs Portal website, you may encounter questions like the following:
- Was your prior H1B Visa (temporary occupation, temporary worker, or trainee) annotated “Clearance Received” or “Department Authorization”? “
- Was your prior H4 visa annotated “Clearance Received” or “Department Authorization”?
- US visa – B1/B2 Visa with annotation “Clearance Received”
In this article, we look at what that means and how to answer DS-160 questions, including samples with screenshots.
Before we dive into the details, let’s first understand what annotations are in the US Visa foil and why that field exists.
What is the annotation field in US Visa? No Annotation? Samples?
The annotation field in the US visa stamp/foil is for the US Consular officer to put in additional notes related to your issued visa. Depending on the kind of visa, it could have details like University Name, Employer name, Work visa petition number, etc. Also, it could include restrictions or checks done so that it can help CBP officers at the port of entry. Below are some samples.
Sample US B1/B2 Visa Stamp in Passport without any annotation
Sample US H1B Visa Stamp in Passport with Employer Name and Petition Number.
US Visa Stamp annotated “Clearance Received” or “Department Authorization”
Some US visa applicants may get “Clearance Received” or “Department Authorization” in the annotation field. It means that the US Consular officer while reviewing the applicant’s file, found some issues with the applicant’s records that might impact their ability to issue a US visa to that person. But, after further review of records, they believe that the applicant is eligible for the visa and can be issued. Then annotation ‘Clearance Received’ is to indicate the same.
The annotation ‘Clearance Received’ is an indication to CBP(Customs and Border Protection) officers at the US Port of Entry, when the applicant is going through US Port of entry procedures, about the history of the issue and the applicant can be admitted to the US if something shows up in their system.
Why would someone get the annotation ‘Clearance Received’ or ‘Department Authorization’
It could happen for one of the common reasons as listed below:
- Applicant’s name matched with someone in their security lists like most wanted persons.
- Some of the applicant’s history or documents raised some flags in their system for some reason due to matches.
- Unknown reasons flagged by their National security systems
- Many of these reasons cannot be said and we do not know why. It is confidential and US Dept of state does not release any information on this.
The key point to take away is, the US Dept of State did a thorough check on the applicant and they found that the applicant is good and can be issued US Visa. This will be part of the record and it will be used as reference in the future too.
Sample US H1B Visa Stamp in Passport with “Clearance Received” Annotation
Below is an image of an H1B Visa with the annotation ‘CLEARANCE RECEIVED’.
Sample US B1/B2 Visa Stamp in Passport with “Clearance Received” Annotation
Below is an image of a B1/B2 Visa with the annotation ‘CLEARANCE RECEIVED’.
DS-160 Application form “Clearance Received” or “Department Authorization” – What to Answer?
When you are filling out the US Nonimmigrant Visa Application form, aka DS-160 form, you may come across questions tied to annotations like ‘Was your prior H1B Visa (temporary occupation, temporary worker or trainee) annotated “Clearance Received” or “Department Authorization”? ” ‘ or it could be the same wording with other visas like H4 Visa or B1 /B2 Visa.
The first thing you need to check is your most recent US Visa stamp glued in your passport, if it says any of these words “Clearance Received” or “Department Authorization”, then you would answer “Yes” for that question. If the annotation section is blank or just has the employer name or school name, then you need to select ‘No’.
You should answer it truthfully as the US Visa stamp says, you cannot select the wrong option here. The US Consular system already has this information captured, so you should not try to lie or change it otherwise. If you do so, you could be penalized for stating the wrong information on the DS-160 form.
US Visa Dropbox Eligibility with ‘Clearance Received’ or ‘Department Authorization’?
Update: US Dept of State in India has updated their guidance and removed the question that used to ask users, “Was your prior XXX visa (visa details XXX ) annotated ‘Clearance Received’ or ‘Department Authorization’?“. They have removed this starting from late April 2023. You will not even be asked the question in India. This was done to facilitate more people leverage the Dropbox Stamping option. You can check the US Dept of State Tweet below
More good news for U.S. visa renewals! Travelers with "clearance received" or "department authorization" on their previous visas can now use the interview waiver process to apply for a new visa. For additional interview waiver criteria, please see our website. pic.twitter.com/SW0X5U5sHa— U.S. Embassy India (@USAndIndia) April 27, 2023
When you are filling out your dropbox or interview waiver questionnaire on CGI Federal website, you maybe be asked the question, “Was your prior XXX visa (visa details XXX ) annotated ‘Clearance Received’ or ‘Department Authorization’?“
The question clearly says prior XXX Visa, so you need to first check your most recent US Visa Stamp in your passport. You need to answer “Yes”, here, if see the words “‘Clearance Received’ or ‘Department Authorization” in the annotation section of your most recently issued US Visa in the XXX Visa category.
It looks like in the below screenshot for the H1B Visa Dropbox Questionnaire and the moment you select “Yes”, the system will automatically exit you out of the wizard and ask you to schedule an in-person interview.
Modified US Visa Interview Waiver Question asking for ‘Clearance Received’ or ‘Department Authorization’
US Dept of State announced on Dec 23rd, 2021 the new Visa Interview Waiver option for Certain H1B, H4, and Others. This is applicable to anyone who had a previous US visa issued and does not have any other ineligibility on their visa or application. As part of the new questions asked to determine dropbox stamping eligibility, the USTravelDocs system has the question that says: “Was your prior visa annotated “Clearance Received” or “Department Authorization”? as shown in the below screenshot.
You need to answer “Yes” to this question if you have the annotation text on your most recently issued or approved US Visa that says “Clearance Received” or “Department Authorization“. If you have multiple US Visa stamps on your passport, look at the most recent one. If you see it closely, it says ‘prior’, meaning the most recent one. If you do not see any annotation on your Visa stamp, then you answer this as “No”. In general, if you answer “Yes” to this question, you would not be eligible for the interview waiver.
Impact of US Visa stamp with “Clearance Received” or “Department Authorization”? Future?
In general, it should be fine, as the US Dept of State has all your information captured in the previous verification and vetting process. They will double-check the same to make it is the same and if there are any new changes related to your security status.
It would not directly impact your future US Visa stamping chances. Having said that, what it does indicate is that there was some issue with your name or any other details in their systems, you may be subject to a few more questions or screening in some places. So, be prepared with all the documentation in case any questions arise. Also, as mentioned above, you may not be able to get the US Visa renewal using the Dropbox option.
Also, sometimes Visa officer may stamp “Cancelled Without Prejudice” or “CWOP” on your old or valid US Visa, to understand the details, you may read details on Cancelled without Prejudice – US Visa – Meaning
Did you get this annotation in your Passport? What was your experience?