Understanding National Visa Center Processing

February 18, 2016

Immigration status is commonly conferred in two ways in the United States – through a change from one status to another in the U.S. and through an application for a visa at a U.S. consular post overseas. Many people are familiar with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) and its different forms available for different immigration benefits. One of the most well-known USCIS processes is the “adjustment” of one’s nonimmigrant status to that of lawful permanent residence – the obtaining of a green card. Which government entity regulates a process depends on where the immigration benefit is being conferred. The Department of Homeland Security controls processes occurring in the United States while the State Department controls applications made overseas. The National Visa Center (NVC) acts as a gatekeeper for petitions approved by USCIS and processes applications that have reached the front of the line if there was a waiting period involved. How this waiting time is determined is explored in a previous blog post on this site. Understanding the NVC’s requirements can reduce waiting time and frustration in the application process.

Central to the NVC process are a trio of requirements, not all of which are required in any one case. There is an online immigrant or nonimmigrant visa application, financial documentation including affidavits of support and tax returns, and country-specific documentation such as birth certificates and criminal and military histories. Not all documentation is available in every country while specific procedures must be followed in others, and it is therefore essential to consult the State Department’s guidelines to ensure that a complete application package is sent to the NVC. Once a particular application has been judged to be complete, the NVC will send it to the consular post where the applicant will typically attend a visa interview. Important to note is that the NVC will sometimes send applications with deficiencies to the consular post and advise applicants to remedy them prior to the interview. To avoid surprises, it is always best to ensure that a complete application has been submitted at an early stage. Please contact us for a consultation on NVC processing of your visa application and an initial evaluation of the documents required.

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