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National Visa Center

National visa Center FAQ's

  • The family-based petition my relative filed for me was approved. Now what?

    The family-based petition my relative filed for me was approved. Now what?

  • What does the National Visa Center do?

    What does the National Visa Center do?

    • The Department of State's National Visa Center (NVC) retains the approved petition until the case is ready for adjudication by a consular officer abroad. Petitions may remain at NVC for several months or for many years depending on the visa category and country of birth of the visa applicant. When a beneficiary’s (the beneficiary is the person on whose behalf the petition was filed) priority date appears about to become current, NVC sends the petitioner a bill for processing Form I-864 (Affidavit of Support Under Section 213A of the Act) and sends the beneficiary a Form DS-3032 (Choice of Address and Agent (PDF 31 KB)). Once the Form I-864 processing fee is paid, NVC sends the Form I-864 and related instructions to the petitioner. Once NVC receives the completed Form DS-3032 from the applicant, NVC mails a bill for the immigrant visa fee to the agent designated on the Form DS-3032. Once the immigrant visa fee is paid, NVC sends the Instruction Package for Immigrant Visa Applicants to the agent.

      You or your agent must follow the directions in the Instruction Package for Immigrant Visa Applicants exactly. Failure to do so could result in a delay in your case and could even cause you to lose your chance to live and work in the United States. Once NVC completes its administrative processing of your case, the case file is sent to the Immigrant Visa Unit of the U.S. Embassy in Colombia. NVC will notify you by mail when this occurs.

      You may contact NVC at (603) 334-0700 from 7:45 a.m. to 6:45 p.m., Monday through Friday.

  • What is a priority date and why does it matter?

    What is a priority date and why does it matter?

    • The priority date, in the case of a family-based immigrant visa petition, is the date your petition was filed (not the date it was approved). Family-based immigrant visas are divided into two broad groups, immediate relative cases and preference cases. An immediate relative family-based petition is filed by a U.S. citizen on behalf of a spouse, parent, or child. A preference family-based petition is filed by a U.S. citizen on behalf of a son, daughter, or sibling; or by a legal permanent resident on behalf of a spouse, son or daughter, or child.

      Because the law does not limit the number of immediate relative visas, the priority date is normally irrelevant in such cases (please see the Department of State’s most recent policy telegram on the Child Status Protection Act for the notable exception). Workload permitting, the Immigrant Visa Unit of the U.S. Embassy in Colombia may begin processing the approved petition upon receipt from the Department of State’s National Visa Center.

      The priority date in a preference case, however, matters greatly. The law limits the number of preference visas available. All categories of family-based preference visas are currently "oversubscribed" (i.e., there are more people who want visas than there are visa numbers available). Your priority date, along with your visa category and nationality, determines whether a visa number is available or whether you must wait. Once your priority date is earlier than the cut-off date listed in the most recent Visa Bulletin you can be allotted a visa number and have your case processed (i.e., your case is “current”). We cannot predict when a case will become current. You can monitor the movement of the cut-off dates as announced in the Visa Bulletin to learn when your priority date is reached. To hear the cut-off dates over the telephone, you can call the Department of State visa information line at (202) 663-1541.