Do you have a case waiting to be processed by the National Visa Center? In this video, attorney Jacob Sapochnick discusses the latest updates on visa processing and interview scheduling in the new year.
This includes information regarding current visa backlogs and what you can expect from the National Visa Center.
If you would like to learn more about this important topic, just keep on watching.
Did you know? For immigrant visa petitions, the National Visa Center (NVC) functions as an intermediary between USCIS and the Embassy or Consulate that will eventually schedule your immigrant visa interview.
After the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has approved your I-130 or I-140 immigrant visa petition, USCIS will forward your petition to the National Visa Center (NVC) in Portsmouth, New Hampshire. The NVC will complete immigrant visa pre-processing once your priority date becomes current pursuant to the Visa Bulletin.
Immediate relative categories do not have yearly numerical limits and pre-processing can begin once your case has reached the NVC. However, other family preference and employment-based immigrant categories have annual numerical limits, preventing pre-processing from taking place until the priority date is current.
By far the most common question we receive from immigrant visa applicants is when will the National Visa Center schedule my visa interview? In this post, we tell you all there is to know about immigrant visa processing in the new year.
It has been nearly three years since the Department of State first announced the suspension of all routine visa services, including immigrant and nonimmigrant visa appointments at Embassies and Consulates worldwide. As the world grappled with the impact of the Coronavirus pandemic, visa processing was thrown into chaos causing nearly all U.S. Embassies and Consulates to cancel visa appointments worldwide and drastically reduce the number of available interviews being scheduled.
As of December 2022, according to the National Visa Center’s Immigrant Visa Backlog Report, there are still over 377,000 immigrant visa applicants waiting in line to be scheduled for visa interviews at Embassies and Consulates worldwide. Of this number, only 33,406 immigrant visa applicants whose cases were documentarily complete were in fact scheduled for immigrant visa interview appointments in December of 2022.
By comparison, before the pandemic, in calendar year 2019, on average, 60,866 applicants were pending the scheduling of an interview each month.
|Number of Immigrant Visa applicants whose cases are documentarily complete at NVC and ready for interview as of November 30||411,359|
|Number of documentarily complete Immigrant Visa applicants scheduled for December 2022 interview appointments||33,406|
|Number of eligible Immigrant Visa applicants still pending the scheduling of an interview after December 2022 appointment scheduling was completed||377,953|
This data is a snapshot in time provided for informational purposes in order to be as transparent as possible. Given that these numbers change on a regular basis through our ongoing effort to reduce the backlog, they will be outdated soon after they are published each month.
In addition, this data is specific to cases that have been processed by NVC and determined to be “documentarily complete.” It does not reflect IV cases that have already been transferred to an embassy or consulate for interview, cases that are still with USCIS for petition approval, or cases that are not considered documentarily complete. For more information about when an application is considered documentarily complete, click here.
To combat these enormous backlogs, the State Department has been working to resume routine visa services, however the pandemic continues to play a big role in visa interview availability, depending on local country conditions, pandemic restrictions, host country quarantine regulations, resources, and the availability of personnel.
How long is it taking for cases to become documentarily complete at the NVC?
Currently, it is taking anywhere from 45 to 70 days for cases that reach the National Visa Center to become documentarily complete.
A case becomes documentarily complete once the NVC determines that an applicant has paid the necessary visa fees, submitted the required immigrant visa application, Affidavit of Support, and supporting documents to NVC (also known as the civil documents). Applicants are notified by the NVC via email once their case is documentarily complete. After this occurs, NVC will work with the appropriate U.S. Embassy or Consulate to help schedule the immigrant visa interview appointment.
The U.S. Embassy or Consulate informs NVC what dates they are holding interviews, and NVC fills these appointments in a first-in, first-out manner. Applicants in a numerically limited (preference) visa category can receive an appointment if their priority date is current on the Visa Bulletin.
It is important for applicants to understand that even if your priority date is current on the Visa Bulletin, cases that are not documentarily complete will not be scheduled for interviews. You must pay the required visa fees and submit all required documentation before your case can proceed to the interview scheduling stage.
Once USCIS has approved your immigrant petition, and transferred your case to the NVC, it is your responsibility to follow up and submit the necessary documentation for your case to become documentarily complete.
Inconsistencies from the National Visa Center and Embassies Regarding Interview Scheduling
A major obstacle to visa scheduling is receiving inaccurate information from local Embassies and Consulates regarding visa interview scheduling.
For example, some individuals report that when contacting their Embassy or Consulate, they are told that their case remains at the NVC and will not be scheduled for a visa interview until their case has become documentarily complete.
This leads the applicant to believe that it is up to the NVC to schedule immigrant visa interviews, when in reality the NVC cannot unilaterally schedule a visa interview and instead must rely on the Embassy to first provide available visa interview dates before it can assist the applicant.
By contrast, when applicants contact the NVC for information about visa interview scheduling they are told that their case is already documentarily complete, and that the documentarily complete status can be verified on the Consular Electronic Application Center (CEAC) Online Visa Status Check.
This means that after determining that a case is documentarily complete, the NVC is only waiting on the Embassy to make visa interviews available in order to proceed with interview scheduling.
Therefore, the real holdup is the Embassy who has not opened sufficient interview slots to meet the ongoing demand for visa interview scheduling. The NVC has no choice but to hold the case until the Embassy has informed the agency that it can schedule the applicant for a visa interview.
Sadly, this has created a lot of unnecessary confusion. We hope that this information clarifies the situation.
To help move your case forward, you must be proactive and ensure your case is documentarily complete at the NVC level. Once your case has become documentarily complete, you can work with your local Embassy and the NVC to try to push your case forward. You may wish to contact an experienced immigration attorney to determine whether your case qualifies for expedited processing using the National Interest Exception.
If you are facing a serious emergency, urgent humanitarian reason, severe financial loss, medical urgency, etc. you may be able to receive expedited processing from the Embassy.
Other alternatives include trying to move your case to a different Embassy or Consulate to obtain a visa interview appointment, or even filing a lawsuit in federal court ordering your Embassy or Consulate to take action.
To explore your options, we invite you to contact us for a consultation.
Contact Us. If you would like to schedule a consultation, please text 619-483-4549 or call 619-819-9204.
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