In this week’s TOTW, I want to explain a little more about the NVC, National Visa Center, and how the NVC is involved in immigration application processing.
We have many questions from people applying for a spouse or relative who lives outside the United States, and I think this will help you understand the process a little more.
If you need help with your immigration cases, such as a Green Card renewal, Citizenship application, or DACA, connect with our New Jersey immigration attorney to help you with your immigration concern.
What is the National Visa Center?
The National Visa Center is located in Portsmouth, New Hampshire. It is part of the Department of State. In essence, the National Visa Center or NVC is the liaison/connector between USCIS and consulates/embassies abroad.
Petitioning for a Relative
If you are filing a petition for a spouse or relative, you will file a Form I-130 or I-129. This is submitted to USCIS.
You will receive a Notice of Action (NOA-1) or I-797 telling you they got it. Then USCIS approves or denies that application. If they approve it, you will receive another I-797 (NOA-2 or Notice of Action 2)
The petition is then transferred from USCIS to the National Visa Center. This can take 4-6 weeks to be moved, so please don’t expect NVC to have it immediately. The person who is the green card holder or citizen is the Petitioner, and the person they are applying for is the applicant. (this can be a little confusing because usually the green card holder or USC is the one applying, so you would think they were the applicant, but they are not – welcome to the ways of the government in the US).
Once NVC receives it, the processing time will be based on:
- The visa category of the applicant. That means an F1, F2, F3, etc.
- The relationship of the applicant to the petitioner. If you are a spouse, your application will move more quickly (should be immediate) than someone who is a brother or sister of a US Citizen. (on a side note, we had someone ask us on our YouTube channel the other day when he could apply for his green card, as his brother was a green card holder. Unfortunately, if your sibling is a green card holder, you cannot apply for a visa until they become a US Citizen). If you have a family member who has a legal status and wants to sponsor you, have them call us. We can review their status and give them an outline of who they can sponsor and when.
- Your priority date – this is the date USCIS received the initial application and accepted it. If it was rejected because it was missing something, the date is when it is resubmitted and accepted by USCIS.
- The citizenship of the petitioner – remember the petitioner is the USC or green card holder.
So NVC now has the application from USCIS. It will:
- Accept and verify the petition (you will get a welcome letter when this is done)
- Allow the applicant or their attorney to electronically submit the Affidavit of Support – DS260 – and any other documents that establish the relationship of the Petitioner to the Applicant. And pay any fees required.
- Once that is accepted and complete, and the embassy or consulate is OPEN and conducting interviews (during times of COVID, not all are), NVC will forward the application for an interview and further processing.
Documentarily Qualified Applicants
There is a stage called DQ or Documentarily Qualified. This is when all documents have been submitted, received, and approved by NVC. Unfortunately, right now (in May 2021), almost 500,000 DQ applicants are waiting for interviews.
NVC processing times are updated weekly, usually on Mondays. As of May 10, 2021 – NVC is reviewing cases received from USCIS on April 2, 2021.
In my blog, I’ve said several times that you should keep a folder/file with all of your immigration papers. You should keep copies of what you submit with your application and any notices you get from USCIS or NVC.
You will receive a welcome letter from the NVC. This document is essential because it has login information for you to get into the CEAC (Consular Electronic Application Center) throughout the process.
Following Up on Your Immigration Application
If the NVC has gotten your application and you want to check on the status, you can do so.
If your case is “outside of normal processing times,” you can contact NVC via email with a Public Inquiry form or by phone. I will link to the site where you submit the Public Inquiry Form. Their phone number is 603-337-0700, and they are available Monday through Friday from 7:00 am to midnight eastern time.
The NVC is currently answering emails that they received on 27 April 2021. I hope this helped you understand more about the NVC and its part of your immigration journey.
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