Welcome to the start of a brand-new week. In this video, attorney Jacob Sapochnick shares with you some brand-new updates including the status of immigrant visa processing, NVC insider tips, information regarding the transfer of cases from USCIS to the NVC, NVC timeframes, expedite requests, and much more.
If you have an immigrant visa application waiting for interview scheduling at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate worldwide or if your case is stuck at the National Visa Center, then this video is right for you.
Did you know? The Consular Electronic Application Center (CEAC) is your one-stop shop to pay your immigrant visa fees and upload any necessary documentation to complete the processing of your application before it is deemed “documentarily complete.”
Want to know more? Just keep on watching.
The Role of the National Visa Center
As you may know, the National Visa Center (NVC) is operated by the Department of State. Its main role is to administer the processing of immigrant visas after their approval by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), but before the case is actually sent to the U.S. Embassy or Consulate for a final interview. Essentially, the National Visa Center functions as a middleman between USCIS and Consulates overseas.
Notification of Transfer from USCIS to the National Visa Center
Typically, when you file your I-130 Petition for Alien Relative you must designate on the application form whether you will apply for adjustment of status in the United States, or whether you will apply for an immigrant visa abroad at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate overseas.
If you do not designate a U.S. Embassy or Consular section on the I-130 form, it will take longer for USCIS to transfer your case to the National Visa Center. Additionally, if you designate adjustment of status on your application, and later on you wish to apply for your immigrant visa at a U.S. Consulate or Embassy overseas, you must notify USCIS of the change. This is because USCIS will not automatically transfer your case to your U.S. Consulate or Embassy of choice overseas, without specific notification on Form I-824, Application for Action on an Approved Application or Petition.
- Tip: Make sure to designate the appropriate filing location early on in your case, whether that is adjustment of status with USCIS or a Consular section or Embassy overseas to prevent delays
Problems with Transfer of Cases
Recently, we have experienced situations in which USCIS finished adjudicating a case and claimed to have forwarded the approved case to the National Visa Center. The National Visa Center on the other hand had no record or indication that such case was received or transferred to them by USCIS. For these cases, the Department of State has announced that the National Visa Center will continue to work with USCIS to track those cases and make sure that they are processed in a timely manner.
If your case has been approved by USCIS and there’s been no action taken by the National Visa Center within 60 days (no email correspondence received), it is your responsibility to take action and contact the National Visa Center to notify them that your case has been approved by USCIS and you are awaiting transfer of your case to the agency. When such inquiries are made, NVC initiates an internal process to investigate and locate your file. After the investigation has been initiated, you should continue to follow up with the NVC to make sure your case does not fall through the cracks.
Finally, if you have a case at the National Visa Center and it’s been there for at least one year, without any action taken (such as an inquiry or follow up within the last 6 months) there is a risk that your application could be considered abandoned. Applicants should be checking on the status of their cases every 6 months to make sure their application is not administratively closed.
National Visa Center Timeframes
As you may know, the National Visa Center continues to experience very long processing times. Huge backlogs remain due to pent up cases being warehoused at the NVC. Due to the ongoing Coronavirus pandemic, the majority of Consulates and Embassies worldwide have drastically limited visa operations which has been impacting the availability of appointments for in-person immigrant visa interviews. Over half a million people continue to wait for interview slots to open. Unfortunately, the National Visa Center has not been able to transfer the majority of immigrant visa cases to Consulates and Embassies overseas, because demand for interviews greatly exceeds interview slots available.
The Stages of NVC Processing
When a case arrives at the NVC it goes through several stages. The first stage is the case creation stage. At this stage, the NVC assigns a case number to the applicant in the Consular Electronic Application Center (CEAC) and a welcome letter is sent to the applicant to notify them of the case creation. The welcome letter includes the immigrant visa case number, your invoice ID number, and finally instructions on how to create an account on the CEAC webpage. Once the applicant pays the immigrant visa fees, it can take approximately 7 days before the payment is updated in the CEAC system.
The second stage after case creation is called case review. Processing of your case will only begin after all fees have been paid and all documents have been uploaded to the CEAC portal.
Public Inquiry Form
Finally, if you want to contact the NVC to find out what has been happening with your case you can use the Public Inquiry Form available online.
Once all steps have been completed, your case will be considered “documentarily complete,” and it will be placed in a queue to await interview scheduling when your Embassy or Consulate has an available appointment date. If for some reason your application is not eligible for electronic upload, follow the proper NVC guidelines to send the information by mail.
When a case has been “documentarily complete” the NVC will notify the applicant directly via the CEAC system. If you login to your CEAC account and navigate to the “summary” tab, you can check the status of your application including whether your case is “documentarily complete” or whether more documentation is needed from you.
- Tip #1: When uploading documents to the CEAC portal, under current guidelines PDF files should not be larger than two megabytes, otherwise the system will not accept your document causing delays to the processing of your case. If your file is too large, you can compress it to comply with the size limits.
- Tip #2: Each document you provide must be scanned and uploaded as a separate file. For example, if you must submit birth certificates, marriage certificate, and tax returns, you cannot upload them as one file. You must scan and upload each document individually and separately to avoid rejection of your documents.
- Tip #3: NVC strongly recommends that you submit tax transcripts from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and not federal income tax returns. This is because federal income tax returns are typically very large files, that are sometimes uploaded without the individual’s signature causing NVC to reject the file.
Important DS-260 Information
Remember that once you have submitted your DS-260 Immigrant Visa Application, you cannot make any further changes without first notifying the U.S. Consulate or Embassy. If you need to make changes to your application, you must contact your Consulate or Embassy directly by email or via their contact form to request for them to unlock your DS-260 application, so that you can re-open your application and make changes.
If your case is stuck at the National Visa Center and no movement has occurred, you can still try to expedite your application if you have compelling reasons for expediting. Expedite requests can be made by contacting the NVC expedite unit by email at NVCExpedite@state.gov. The NVC unit will review the request to determine whether it meets the expedite criteria. The most common reason for expediting includes serious medical or financial hardship to the U.S. Citizen. Once you have submitted an expedite request, you must wait at least 30 days before making an inquiry or submitting a second expedite request due to the large volume of expedite requests the NVC receives on a day-to-day basis.
The final decision to approve an expedite request ultimately lies with the U.S. Embassy or Consular post. Even if the NVC recommends the approval of an expedite request, when the request is sent to the Embassy, they may still reject it if they believe the expedite criteria have not been met.
Questions? If you would like to schedule a consultation, please text 619-483-4549 or call 619-819-9204.
- U.S. Embassies and Consulate Websites
- The National Visa Center
- NVC Civil Documents
- NVC Contact Information – Public Inquiry Form
- The Consular Electronic Application Center (CEAC)
- Form I-130 Petition for Alien Relative
- National Visa Center (NVC) Immigrant Visa Backlog Report
- DOS YouTube Channel
- DOS Visa Services Operating Status Update
- ImmigrationU Membership
- Success stories
- Youtube channel
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