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National Visa Center
In April of 1994 the Department of State opened a permanent Immigrant Visa processing facility at the National Visa Center (NVC) in Portsmouth, NH. NVC processes all approved immigrant visa petitions after they are received from Citizenship and Immigration Services in the Department of Homeland Security (CIS) and retains them until the cases are 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 an applicant's case is about to become current (a visa number is likely to be available within the year), the petition is forwarded to the appropriate U.S. embassy or consulate overseas. If an applicant is adjusting status in the U.S., the case will be forwarded to the appropriate CIS office upon request by that office.NVC receives thousands of telephone and written inquiries from applicants, petitioners, congressional offices, U.S. embassies and consulates, CIS offices and the White House. An automated recorded message system can answer many of these inquiries 24 hours a day, seven days a week (603 334-0700). Operators are available to respond to more difficult inquiries from 7:30 AM to 12:30 AM (EST) Monday through Friday. Status of case information and access to an operator can only be provided by entering your NVC case number or CIS receipt number on a touch-tone telephone. Case inquiries can also be made via email at NVCINQUIRY@state.gov. NVC only has information on petitions it has received. If our automated service does not recognize the CIS file or receipt numbers you entered, most likely we have not yet received your petition. In addition, answers to commonly asked questions can be retrieved through an automated e-mail response system.
Written inquiries, changes of address and requests to upgrade petitions due to naturalization of the petitioner should be sent to: WC The National Visa Center, 32 Rochester Avenue, Portsmouth NH, 03801-2909 or email NVCINQUIRY@state.gov . Please note that NVC is not open to the public. Unfortunately, some people have traveled long distances to inquire about their case in person, only to discover that we are not able to meet with them.
NVC Role and Forms
When an applicant's priority date is close to becoming current , NVC will send an Affidavit of Support (I-864 form) processing fee bill to the petitioner and an Agent of Choice and Address (DS-3032) form to the applicant. Once the I-864 processing fee is paid, NVC will send the I-864 forms and instructions to the petitioner. Once NVC receives the form DS-3032 from the applicant, NVC will mail the Immigrant Visa (IV) fee bill to the agent of choice. Once the IV fee bill is paid, NVC will send the Instruction Packet of forms and information to the agent. The exact contents of the Instruction Packet will depend on where the applicant will be interviewed for a visa. For instance, the Instruction Packet we send to people applying in China is different from the one we send to applicants in France. Information in the Instruction Packet that can currently be downloaded from this web site is listed below:
English Language Instruction Packet:Instructions for Immigrant Visa Applicants (applying in Albania, Canada, Lebanon, Philippines, Turkey, United Arab Emirates or on the continent of Africa)
Frequently Asked Questions
Why don't you have my case at NVC yet?
When you complete a petition (I-130, I-140, etc.) for an immigrant visa you send it to Citizenship and Immigration Services in the Department of Homeland Security for approval. If the CIS approves the petition they will send you a Notice of Approval (I-797) and then they will send the petition to NVC. There is a delay between when you get the Notice of Receipt and the Notice of Approval from CIS and also between when you get the Notice of Approval and when NVC receives the petition. After NVC receives the petition, we will create a case record and assign a case number. We recommend that you wait at least three weeks after you get your Notice of Approval before calling NVC if you have not heard from the Center by that time.
I am the beneficiary (applicant) and my case is at NVC. Now what happens?
This depends on whether or not your case is current. If your visa category is an immediate relative category (spouse, parent or child (under 21) of a U.S. citizen) then your case is automatically current. If your visa category is one of the family preference or employment categories, there are legal limits on the numbers of visas that can be issued in each category and in most categories, the demand is higher than those limits. In these categories, waiting lists have been established based on your priority date, which is the date your sponsor filed your petition with the CIS. Cutoff dates established by the Visa Office determine when your petition will be reached for processing. Your petition can only become current and thus ready for further processing when the cutoff date in your visa category has advanced up to your priority date.
If your case is about to become current, we will send you, the beneficiary, an Agent of Choice and Address letter containing the form DS-3032. You must complete the form DS-3032 and follow the instructions to continue with the visa application process. Your sponsor (petitioner) will receive an Affidavit of Support (I-864 form) processing fee bill, which will be sent directly to the petitioner by NVC.
If your case is not current, we will send you a letter informing you that we have your file at NVC and will hold it until your case becomes current. We cannot predict when a case will become current. You should monitor the movement of the cutoff dates as announced by the Visa Office to learn when your priority date is reached. To hear the cutoff dates you may call the State Department Visa Information line at 202-663-1541 or refer to the Visa Bulletin .
I received my Instruction Packet. Now what do I do?
Procedures vary depending on the kind of visa and which embassy or consulate will be processing the case. Applicants should read carefully and follow the instructions in each packet sent to them that explain exactly what to do next. Jumping steps or sending in information that has not been requested will delay the process of your case.
I am in the United States and would like to adjust status. How do I do that?
If you live in the U.S., you may be eligible for adjustment of status as a permanent resident. When your case becomes current, NVC will send you a letter telling you that you may be eligible for adjustment of status and asking that you tell us if you will adjust or apply at a U.S. consular section abroad. If you write back to us that you will adjust status, we will note it on your case record and retain the file until an CIS office requests it to process your adjustment application. If NVC does not get a reply to our letter after 30 days, we will begin processing your case as if you have chosen to process at a consular office abroad.
NVC is not involved in adjustment of status. You should contact the CIS office nearest you for information, forms, and adjustment of status updates.
When I filed a petition for my relative I was a legal permanent resident (green card holder). I recently became a U.S. citizen. How can I upgrade the petition?
Please make a copy of your Naturalization Certificate. Send the copy - NOT the original - to the National Visa Center with a letter containing the beneficiary name and case number of the petition you want to upgrade. We will send the beneficiary any additional forms and information that may be required.
I moved. How do I give you my new address?
Write to us at The National Visa Center, 32 Rochester Avenue, Portsmouth NH 03801-2909, or fax it to 603-334-0791. When contacting us please be sure to always include your case number or your CIS receipt number so that we may locate your case.
I have been waiting for a very long time for my relative to get an immigrant visa. Now there is a family emergency and I need my relative to immigrate soon to the U.S. Can NVC help me?
Unfortunately, if your relative's case is not current, there is nothing that NVC can do to expedite visa processing. Immigrant visa processing is governed by the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1952, as amended, which controls visa categories, priority dates and the availability of visa numbers. Immigrant visa numbers are made available strictly in the order of priority dates. There is no provision within the law that would allow NVC to waive numerical limitation in any individual case.
My relative went for his interview for an immigrant visa at the U.S. Embassy, but was refused. Can NVC review this case?
No. NVC has no authority to review the granting or refusal of any immigrant visa case. If you want to have more information about the processing of an immigrant visa case that has already been sent to a U.S. consular section abroad or to request a review of a visa refusal, please contact the U.S. consular office where the visa case was processed.