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US Visa Annotations: Clearance Received or Department Authorization Meaning ?

When you go for US Visa stamping and 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 CGI Federal website, you also may also encounter questions like the below:

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 are annotations 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

US Visa Stamp Sample Without Annotation - Blank

Sample US H1B Visa Stamp in Passport with Employer Name and Petition Number.

H1B US Visa Sample with Annotation of Employer Name and Receipt 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’.

US Visa Annotated Clearance Received - Department Authorization Sample
US Visa Annotated Clearance Received H1B Visa – Department Authorization Sample

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’.

Clearance Received Annotation on US Visa - B1:B2 Visa
Clearance Received Annotation on US Visa – B1/ B2 Visa

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’?

When you are filling out your dropbox or interview waiver questionnaire on CGI Federal website, you would 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.

Was Your prior H1B Visa annotated Clearance Received or Department Authorization
Was Your prior H1B Visa annotated Clearance Received or Department Authorization

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.

Was your Visa Annotated Clearance Received

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?

   

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56 Comments

  1. Hi! I’m currently in the US and was given single entry B1 visa with Annotation remarks of “business meetings from *Date1 to *Date2, *company” (six weeks in total). As for my I-94, I was given max of 6 months to stay in the US. Given that the annotation states an original plan of 6-week stay, will I get difficulties in applying for future visas if I extend up to roughly 6 months before my I-94 max date? Would appreciate all the inputs I can get. Thank you very much!

    Reply
    • John,
      Well, this is subjective. Because you were given visa with some annotation, you should stick to plan you told them in application. It is hard to predict the future. Even though, you have I-94 issued, your case seems tricky as most of the users do not get any such annotations. Speak to an attorney for more guidance.

      Reply
  2. I had my in-laws go to an US Visa Interview for B1/B2 Visa in Oct 2022. Since he was working in Govt he was given Clearance received but Visa was approved for only 3 months and 1 time entry; His Passport was expiring within 6 months of Visa Interview.

    Question : Does Visa Approval depends on when passport expires ?

    Reply
    • Nikhil,
      Not exactly, they can give it beyond the passport expiry date. Only at the CBP they give it until the end of passport expiration. Every case is different and hard to say why someone get something shorter than others.

      Reply
  3. I was issued visa on 11jan2011 expiration 09 Jan 2021 Annotation: Department Authorization.14 Dec 2010. In this period i have travelled 3 times to USA . To renewal of visa i have paid my visa fee CGI REF NOS 730188796441
    $ 160 date 28/12/2021. Till date i am not getting visa appointment. Please help.

    Reply
  4. While booking appointment it is asking visa annotated? I had J1 visa with annotation number and text bearer is not subject to section 212(e).. Should i select no and proceed here? Any help appreciated

    Reply
  5. Hi Kumar,

    I hope you are doing good.

    I have recently created a CGI account and paid the fee to get the reference number. Once I got my number, I somehow selected Yes when it asked for “Was your prior visa annotated ‘Clearance Received’ or ‘Department Authorization” and scheduled my appointment. I recently got my H1 B and was expecting the waiver option while scheduling the appointment, but I couldn’t get it. I was searching to see how I can change, then found your article, and thanks for the precise steps. I came on my F1 visa, and the Annotation shows my SEVIS number. Can I cancel the appointment and update my profile? Will it accept if I update my profile? Please kindly answer my question.

    Thanks in advance!

    Regards
    Kondal

    Reply
      • Hey Kumar,

        Will it matter if we go for in person interview even after having this annotation question answered wrong? I dont think i can get any visa renewal dates for nov/dec and hence donot wish to cancel my scheduled interview appointment. Have you heard in the past if consulate rejected anyone’s visa for making this mistake and going for an inperson interview?

        Reply
        • Kedar,
          Anything you enter online will be part of your record and you are signing it under oath. It is not about right or wrong, if something does not add up, then you will be in trouble. Knowingly doing a mistake should be avoided. Think about your life in US vs. one stamping… No one shares their story telling I lied on the website and was deported or rejected…so, you may or may not find cases. Try to be truthful and fix accordingly. They are opening many slots in October, so pick up one up then.

          Reply
  6. I made a mistake while answering this question, where I said “yes” to the question asking about an annotation of “Clearance Received” or “Department Authorization”, although there is no such annotation on my current visa. As a result, I did not receive the interview waiver that I am actually eligible for? Do you know how I can change this response?

    Reply
  7. Hello, I have a number starting with N00 under “Annotation” field but it doesn’t have text “Clearance Received” or “Department Authorization”. Does having the number mean it falls under this category?

    Reply
  8. Dear all,

    I am Cambodia, I Have my fiancé in US, US embassy in Cambodia give me visa but with words”CANCELED WITHOUT PREJUDICE “ what is happened? How can I do? Could tell me thanks u🙏

    Reply
  9. I (an Indian citizen) had applied for a B1/B2 Visa in 2019 and was given a Visitor Visa valid for 1 year, which has now expired. The Visa stamp has a “Clearance Received” on it, so its not eligible for extension via dropbox.

    Since it is almost impossible to find B1/B2 in person slots, can I try to get an in-person appointment in another country ? or is it recommended to wait for in person slots to open up in the consulates within India ?

    Reply
  10. Hello I currently hold a B1,B2 and c1/D visa as a crew member on cruise ships. This was issued in 2016 in New Zealand. In the annotations on the B1, B2 page, there is nothing. On the C1/D page the annotations say ‘Norwegian Epic Cruise lines’, (not even the correct name of the cruise line!). So, that was the company I was working for then, but I now will be working for another cruise line who now sa that I will have to re-apply for my C1/D visa! Is this correct, why have they only put one cruise line. My agent says he’s never heard of this. Does this restrict me only to Norwegian cruise lines? Will I have to re-apply, the visa is valid until 2026!

    Reply
  11. Hi, my initial two H1B Visas have the annotation “clearance received”. However, my most recent visa and the one before that does NOT have this annotation. The word “prior” is confusing in this question. Can anyone suggest based on their experience if I need to answer this as Question as “Yes” or “No”? Thanks for your help!

    Reply
  12. my b1/b2 application refused for drop box and i have been asked to use same visa fee information to book appointment cos i dnt qualify . i saw annotation and clearance received in my b1b2 visa what does it mean and what do i do

    Reply
  13. Hi Team, I have submitted my US Visa – appointment application form with US Visa stamp has “Clearance Received” or “Department Authorization” As “Yes” by mistake, but in my current expired visa it is blank. I am not able to change now. I have already paid the amount and not booked the slot.
    Please suggest what i need to do? Do i need to create new application for interview and pay the amount again? or what all other option i have?

    Reply
  14. I got stamped for H1B first time on 14 Sept 2017. I got an annotation saying
    ” not valid for travel until 21-SEP-2017″ . I am assuming this annotation does not fall under “Clearance Received” or “Department of Authorization” and I am eligible for drop box ? Please suggest

    Reply
  15. I am egyption working in kuwait today i received my b1/b2 visa but with annotation : escort doctor kuwaiti mimistri of health
    i asked the visa for tourism with the family and using it as an escort doctor for kuwaiti patients to us hospitals
    Is this annotation consider a restriction to travel for tourism with the family

    Reply
  16. Hi,

    I got my VISA in Nov 2020 and in that VISA stamp there is an annotation “Excepted From or Not Subjected to PP 10052 “. Is this mean am I not eligible for dropbox next time?
    Do we consider only the wording ‘Clearance Required’ or ‘Department Authorization’? or any annotation(like above) will not eligible for dropbox? Please advise.

    Thanks & Regards,
    Kishore

    Reply
  17. Ossama
    I applied for US Visa in 2018 so I went the interview and it takes long time, and the consular took my old passport and go to another one into and then come back again took the letter that I have it from the University. Then he came back and kept continue asking me about some country’s I went before, then he told. Me that I deserve the visa but he can’t take the decision and will put my Visa application under administrative processing. Then I kept send email to US embassy each 3 months and ask about my case situation. And it takes from May 29, 2018 to February 2020 then they told me send my passport to work on your visa application, a month later they send my passport back with a visa B2 for 4 months will expire at the end of July 2020 with annotation ( the name of the University with date 2018)
    So can I travel as a tourist with visa? Or I gonna get a problems with the officer in port because the issue I took the visa for it, not any more because it has been in 2018 ??? Please I need an answer from your experience in this situation

    Reply
  18. If you got approved for a 6 months b1/b2 us visa and when you received it under the annotation it say should fly by a certain date, does that mean you can’t fly after that date. The fly by date was only 20 days after the issue date. It is also has M right above the annotation

    Reply
  19. My past two visa Interview story:

    December 2011
    ================
    I went for first-time visa stamping in Mumbai India. The VO asked me some questions and took an excuse and went to some senior officer. After 10 mins he came back and asked me if I have some documents that show my full name. I gave him my Degree certificates. He again left for 5 mins. He came back and said, “Your Visa is approved.” I collected my visa the same day in Mumbai.

    September 2018
    ================
    I went for a Visa Interview in New Delhi. There the VO asked me some questions and told me she needs some time and closed the window and called one of her colleagues. They both were staring at the computer screen and were discussing something. After 5 mins she said she needs some more time and asked me to sit. I was sitting in the lobby and after around 10-15 mins she called me and said: “Your visa is approved.”. This time I had “Clearance Received” in my Visa.

    ===========
    I am planning to go to Mexico for my Visa Stamping in October 2019. I have a valid visa stamped till November 2019. Should I be worried?

    Reply
    • Well, hard to say… Both were done in India…In general, there could be some false alarms or something in their system that flags your application, so they could be discussing and then doing a review before approving it….Be confident, but have a backup plan, if something goes wrong….not to scare you, but just to be prepared ahead. Do update, how it goes here with community.

      Reply
  20. Also , to the term “Prior Visa” .It was a bit confusing as I had my last H1B visa stamp that did not have clearance received, but the visa stamp before that one had clearance received. I couldn’t get a clear answer from the customer support and I chose “No” for that question as i felt the question is for the most recent visa. I used the dropbox facility and got my Visa stamped in 2 days , no issues. So if any one has the same issue, you can go for the dropbox.

    Reply
    • Hi Murali,

      My F1 Visa had clearance received Annotation back in 2010. But my H1B visa from 2014 and 2016 doesn’t have any annotation.

      Can i answer “No” to “was your prior H1B visa annotated “Clearance Received or Department Authorization? during dropbox eligibility.

      TIA.

      Reply
      • Did you get an answer to you question? I am in the same situation – my 2010 B1/B2 has annotation “Clearance Received” but my 2017 H1B doesn’t have any annotation. I answered the question as “No” and booked a drop-box appointment for April but now I am super confused if I an eligible for drop-box or not.

        Reply
        • Sandeep,
          The best thing to do is contact consulate and get it clarified. This is a unique situation and no one knows, US consulate is the best one to advise. Do update here on what you hear for community benefit.

          Reply
  21. I have 2 questions about h1b visa stamping/renewal (not 1st time stamping). The 1st visa was stamped with administrative processing and have the annotation “clearance received” on the stamp with a date on it.

    1) Does that date really mean anything? If i renew my visa prior to that clearance received date, would i get admin processing again? If so, that would be my 2nd question

    2) If my old visa stamp isn’t expire, can i come back to US if I do get administrative processing and VO didn’t take my passport? That way i can still work in US while waiting for the visa approval.

    Reply

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