National Visa Center (NVC) Processing Time: NVC Timeframes and How to Check NVC Case Status

National Visa Center (NVC) Processing Time: NVC Timeframes and How to Check NVC Case Status

During the process of applying for a Green Card, you will work with multiple government agencies, including the National Visa Center (NVC). The NVC processes applications and petitions after the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) approves your immigrant petition and before your application moves to your U.S. Embassy or Consulate.

National Visa Center Processing Time

National Visa Center processing times vary depending on the type of visa the applicant has applied for. Certain visas, like family preference and employment-based Green Cards, have numerical limits, so the wait times can be very long. If this is the case, you will receive a priority date that you must follow before your Visa is fully processed.

Some visas are part of a lottery system. All visas have their own regulations and eligibility requirements that must be considered even before the application/petition reaches the National Visa Center. In general, once your visa reaches the NVC from USCIS, it takes anywhere from one to two months to be processed.

What Factors Determine NVC Processing Time?

The NVC time frame depends not only on the type of visa but also on your country or region and the limit on the number of visas for that particular year. Once your visa is ready for processing, the next steps determine the NVC processing time.

USCIS and NVC processing times increased due to the coronavirus pandemic, but the backlog is finally easing a bit. If you are wondering how the pandemic has impacted your current application, contact our attorneys today.

Your specific type of immigration visa plays a considerable role in your NVC processing time. It is important to note that consular processing—applying for a Green Card from your home country—is usually quicker than Adjustment of Status.

What Is Consular Processing?

If you are applying for a Green Card from your home country or somewhere outside the United States, you will go through consular processing. If you apply legally from within the United States, you will undergo an Adjustment of Status (AOS).

Consular processing involves the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services, the National Visa Center, and the Department of State Consular Office in your home country. Depending on the type of status you are applying for, the NVC may be in charge of your entire application. However, you will often find that your initial USCIS case was sent to the Department of State.

If your consular processing involves USCIS, you must first apply through USCIS.

Note on USCIS Processing

When submitting your application to USCIS, you can check your processing time by looking at the USCIS Check Case Processing Times page. You’ll input the type of form you are applying or petitioning for and the USCIS field office or service center. You can also check your case status using the USCIS Case Status Online tool.

Be sure to keep your receipt notice, Form I-979C, when USCIS receives your submitted form. Once USCIS processes your application, it will be sent to the National Visa Center.

NVC Priority Date and NVC Visa Bulletin

Your priority date is the date your original immigrant visa application was filed. When your priority date matches the National Visa Center’s Visa Bulletin, your immigration process can continue.

Your priority date is on Form I-797, the Notice of Action Letter you received from USCIS. The National Visa Center publishes the NVC visa bulletin every month. It includes the date for the type of visa, country, and visa limits.

It’s crucial to pay attention to your priority date and stay current with Visa Bulletin monthly releases. When your priority date reaches the matched Bulletin date (or is about to match up), the National Visa Center will contact you. They will send you an invoice regarding your application fees and collect all of the evidence that supports your eligibility for the visa you are applying for.

You must keep all documentation sent to you from USCIS and the NVC. We also recommend making copies of everything they send. After the NVC contacts you, you will be able to set up an interview at your embassy or consulate.

Sometimes, the NVC processing time for your priority date and the NVC Visa Bulletin date can take years—and even decades—to match up. If your date does not meet the cut-off date, or “becomes current,” the National Visa Center will continue to hold your petition.

Working with an experienced immigration lawyer can help you keep track of dates, timelines, and deadlines. Staying on top of your processing dates helps expedite the immigration process.

NVC Steps

One factor of the NVC processing time is your timeliness in turning in the necessary documents at the correct stage. In this section, we will cover each immigrant visa processing stage you must complete with the National Visa Center.

During each of these steps, it’s advantageous to work with an immigration attorney to keep track of the different steps and their corresponding deadlines.

Step 1: Submit a Petition

The first step is to file your application with USCIS. A typical form is Form I-130, Petition for Foreign Relative, or Form I-140, Petition for Foreign Worker. Once again, USCIS is the first step in your immigration process. Approval can take months to years, so speak with your immigration attorney about your specific visa timeline. Once this step is complete, your case will be sent to the Department of State.

Step 2: Begin NVC Processing

USCIS will transfer your approved petition to the National Visa Center. This is the pre-processing step, where the NVC uploads your case to its database.

Once this is complete, the NVC will send you a confirmation, either via email or physical mail. The welcome letter will give you your immigrant visa number. Note that this is not an approval; it is merely a confirmation that the NVC pre-processed your USCIS petition.

Since some visa categories have annual limits, you may not be pre-processed for a while due to limits and backlogs. Your USCIS approval is the first step. However, note that it is normal not to receive your NVC immigrant visa number immediately if your visa type is one of the limited categories. Check out the NVC Visa Bulletin for information on priority dates.

Step 3: Pay Fees

Once you receive your welcome letter, pay your required fees on the Consular Electronic Application page. You will need to pay your initial Immigrant Visa Application Processing Fee and your Affidavit of Support Fee.

Note: You may see a message on the CEAC page about uploading documents. If you need assistance, contact your immigration attorney and follow the National Visa Center’s scanning tips page.

Regarding NVC timeframes, this step can take up to one week for processing.

Step 4: Complete Affidavit of Support

Your financial sponsor, or the petitioner, must fill out and send Form I-864, Affidavit of Support. The petitioner signs the affidavit as a legal contract with the United States, stating they will be financially responsible for the applicant so that the applicant will not rely on government financial support.

Several types of Form I-864 may apply to your situation, including:

  1. Form I-864
  2. Form I-864A
  3. Form I-864EZ
  4. Form I-864W

Turn in the actual form and all supporting evidence. To find out the poverty guidelines for each state and which form you must fill out, visit the NVC website for the Affidavit of Support.

Step 5: Collect Financial Evidence and other Supporting Documents

After you submit the Affidavit of Support, it’s time to submit all other supporting documents and financial evidence necessary to prove your visa eligibility. Financial evidence may include:

  • IRS tax transcripts
  • Any evidence of income, such as pay statements and business letters from your employer
  • Proof of assets
  • Proof of relationships, such as birth certificates, adoption certificates, and marriage certificates
  • Proof of your sponsor’s U.S. citizenship or lawful permanent residency

Note that the evidence you turn in should be congruent with the type of visa application you are submitting.

If you need help submitting documents, ask your immigration attorney.

Step 6: Complete Online Visa Application DS-260

Form DS-260 is the Application for Immigrant Visa and Alien Registration. You must fill out your form along with each of your family members who are in the process of immigrating to the United States.

You can submit your Form DS-260 on the U.S. Department of State site.

After submitting Form DS-260, you must print out the confirmation page and bring it to your interview.

Step 7: Collect Civil Documents

The next step is submitting all required civil documents to the National Visa Center. Each country has its requirements, so make sure you follow your country’s specified guidelines.

Civil documents include:

  • Copies of your valid passport (specifically the biographic data page)
  • Marriage certificates
  • Birth certificates
  • Adoption documentation
  • Military Records
  • Police certificates
  • Divorce decrees
  • Death certificates
  • Annulment papers

Along with these civil documents, you need to submit all petitioner documents, such as divorce decrees or death certificates from your spouse, if necessary. If you have questions about whether you need to submit a document or are missing documents, talk to your immigration attorney.

If you have missing documents, your NVC processing time can take longer. If a required document is unavailable, you need to explain to NVC why that document is not being submitted.

Step 8: Scan and Save Your Civil Documents

It’s time to take all your collected civil documents and upload them to your CEAC page.

The NVC would like all documents to be electronically uploaded. They will let you know if you need to mail a form in.

Make sure you follow these document requirements to ensure your NVC processing time stays on schedule:

  • Upload only .pdf, .jpg, or .jpeg files
  • Do not password-protect your files
  • Do not upload zipped files
  • Multiple-page documents should be one file, which can be compressed if it is too large
  • Keep files under 2 megabytes (MB)
  • Make sure all documents are legible and complete, with nothing cut off
  • Rotate documents so they can be read across the screen
  • All documents need to be in color
  • If you are uploading a translated file, upload that file along with the original document
  • Rescan and increase resolution if a file is not legible

All the uploaded documents need to be photocopied. If you do need to mail in documents, be sure to send in a copy, not the original document.

It is helpful to make a guide for your uploaded documents in the form of a table of contents with a little description for each document. This way, the NVC will know the purpose of each document in relation to your application.

You can scan documents on a smartphone or with a computer and scanner. Note that you will need to be connected to the Internet to upload documents. If you have to perform this task on a public computer, make sure to delete all of the files from that computer before you are done to protect your identity and files.

Translated Documents

If you have translated documents, you need to include your translator’s signature on a “certificate of translation.” Note that you are not allowed to translate your own document.

Step 9: Upload and Submit Scanned Documents

When you are ready, upload your documents to the CEAC page by clicking “Start now.”

Click “Submit Documents” after your upload is complete. Now, your application is ready for review and will be placed in the NVC review line.

If you did not submit all the required or correct documents, the NVC will let you know, and you will need to resubmit them.

Once everything is uploaded correctly, your NVC stage is complete, and you can move on to the next stage: interviewing with the U.S. Embassy or Consulate.

You will need to prepare for an interview, such as gathering your required documents and taking a medical exam. You are now in the final stages of your immigration process, which takes place with the U.S. Embassy or Consulate.

National Visa Center Check Status

The National Visa Center Check Status is found on the U.S. Department of State’s website and is called the Consular Electronic Application Center (CEAC).

You will input your “Visa Application Type” and Immigrant Visa Case Number. You will also be asked to type in a security code shown on the screen.

Once you’ve typed in your information, click “submit” and see your CEAC status check results.

What to Do When Your Case Is Taking A Long Time

As you can see, the immigration process can take an extended amount of time. The exact amount of time is based on many factors, so having a knowledgeable attorney on your side can help you better understand the process and whether the amount of time it takes is normal.

Contact USCIS

If you would like to contact USCIS directly, there are a few options for doing so:

  • Call USCIS at 800.375.5283
  • Submit an e-request if your case is outside standard processing times—USCIS asks that if your application type is not specified on the page, you should wait six months before submitting an e-request
  • If you applied legally from within the United States, you can contact your state’s elected officials; you can find their contact info here:
  • Request expedition if you meet the USCIS criteria

National Visa Center Contact Information

You may contact the National Visa Center with questions or concerns if you are in the NVC stage of your immigration process:

  • Phone number for immigrant visa inquiries: 603.334.0700
  • NVC email for document scanning (if applicable):
  • NVC email for questions about your case:
  • NVC phone number for questions unrelated to your immigration process: 603.334.0888
  • To submit a Public Inquiry Form, click here

Next Steps: U.S. Consulate or Embassy

When NVC is done with your case, they will direct it to your country’s U.S. Consulate or Embassy. To contact your embassy, find your country on the U.S. Department of State Embassies & Consulates Contact Information page.

Contact Experienced Immigration Attorneys Today

The immigration and naturalization attorneys at Scott D Pollock & Associates PC have over 30 years of experience in immigration law. We have worked on consular processing in Chicago as well as those from other domestic and international locations. We also have ample experience in the Adjustment of Status cases.

Our law firm’s attorneys represent clients during all stages of consular processing. The path to immigration is filled with both excitement and opportunity. However, it also requires careful attention and a keen knowledge of immigration law.

If you have any questions about your consular process, your NVC processing time, your NVC case status, or any other aspect of your immigration journey, contact us today. You can reach us by calling 312.444.1940 or filling out an online form.

We look forward to hearing from you!

We're looking forward to hearing from you!