National Visa Center (NVC) & Embassy Processing for Family-Based Immigration

Family-Based Immigration

The National Visa Center (NVC) is a division of the US Department of State that plays an important role in processing immigrant visa applications as well as a fiance(e) visa applications.

These visas are issued at US embassies and consulates abroad to people seeking to immigrate to the United States, not to people already in the United States who wish to adjust their status to a permanent resident without leaving the United States.

Nevertheless, in family-based immigration cases, the US Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS), a division of the Department of Homeland Security, will process visa applications before forwarding them to the National Visa Center (NVC) for further processing and eventual issuance at a US embassy or consulate overseas.

Immigration visas for relatives of US citizens and lawful permanent residents are filed with USCIS Form I-130.

Waiting Times

Immigrant visa petitions for close family members of US citizens require no special wait time beyond ordinary bureaucratic processing (a year, for example), while other family-based visas could require wait times of up to several decades, due to annual numerical quotas.

Form I-130, if approved, establishes the recognition of a family relationship between the petitioner and the beneficiary, while the U.S. Department of State relies on the National Visa Center (NVC) to decide whether and when these relatives are entitled to immigrate to the US.

Step-by-Step Procedure

To submit a family-based US immigration visa petition from a US embassy or consulate abroad, you will need to complete the following steps:

  • Submit Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative, to the USCIS. As noted above, this petition seeks USCIS recognition of the family relationship between the petitioner and the beneficiary.
  • If the USCIS approves the petition, it will send it to the Department of State for National Visa Center (NVC) processing. Depending on the type of visa (its priority), you may have to wait anywhere from a few weeks to a few decades for approval.
  • Marriage-based visa petitions are among the quickest to be approved. You will be given an online account on Consular Electronic Application Center (CEAC), where you will file documents and pay fees.
  • Once the National Visa Center (NVC) approves your petition, it will notify you to pay the relevant fees. You must pay the Immigrant Visa Application Processing Fee (currently $220) and the Affidavit of Support Fee (currently $120). Both of these fees can be paid to the National Visa Center (NVC) online
  • It will take the National Visa Center (NVC) about a week to process your payments, and you will not be able to access the Department of State’s Form DS-260, Application for Immigrant Visa and Alien Registration during this time.
  • The US petitioner must act as a sponsor for the beneficiary by completing Form I-864, Affidavit of Support, and providing information about his/her finances. Joint sponsorship is possible if the petitioner’s income is insufficient.

Form I-864 obligates the sponsor(s) to provide sufficient financial support to the beneficiary while the beneficiary is in the US. If the relationship is based on marriage, divorce does not terminate the obligation. The visa can be rejected if the sponsor(s) lacks sufficient financial capability.

  • Complete Department of State Form DS-260 and file it on your Consular Electronic Application Center (CEAC) account..You must print the confirmation page and bring it to your interview.
  • After filing Form DS-260, you will need to gather documentation that may include, depending on your circumstances, adoption records, birth certificates, court records, marriage certificates, police certificates, and other documents, You will receive a letter informing you of your interview date at a US embassy or consulate abroad.
  • Schedule a date for a medical examination by a USCIS-approved physician (known as “Civil Surgeons” by the USCIS). There are probably many USCIS-approved Civil Surgeons in your home country.
  • On your exam date, the results of your exam will be given to you in a sealed envelope after you complete the exam. Keep the envelope, but do not break the seal.
  • Gather the documentation required for your interview. The National Visa Center (NVC) will send you instructions on which documents you need to gather.
  • The beneficiary (the person seeking a US visa) must attend an in-person interview at a US embassy or consulate abroad. Anyone immigrating with you (your children for example), must also attend the interview, and your sponsor may be required to attend as well.
  • You will be required to bring certain documents with you (in addition to your passport), and you may bring an immigration lawyer as well.
  • Assuming the interview goes well, your passport will be returned to you with a US immigration visa stamped onto it (this may take a few days). The immigrant visa will allow you to enter the US, typically any time within six months after it is issued. Your green card will probably be mailed to you in the US after you enter the country.

The Herman Legal Group

The Herman Legal Group was founded in 1994 by nationally recognized immigration lawyer and author Richard Herman. The Herman Law Group is known for its compassionate attitude towards its clients, its vigorous advocacy, its multilingual abilities (staff members and lawyers speak over a dozen languages), and its individualized approach to its clients’ cases.

During a quarter-century of serving the immigration needs of thousands of immigrants, the world began taking notice. In 2016 for example, the US News and World Report named Herman Legal Group “Best Law Firm” in the category of immigration law. We have helped multitudes of immigrants obtain employment, reunite with their families, and start new lives in the United States. We would relish the opportunity to do the same for you.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

I have heard that immigration lawyers take a “cookie-cutter” approach to their clients’ cases and attempt to resolve them using simple formulas. But my case is unique. Can you describe your firm’s case management philosophy?

Unfortunately, you are absolutely right that many immigration law firms take a uniform “cookie-cutter” approach to their clients’ cases — but not the Herman Legal Group. At Herman Legal Group, we never forget that every case represents a unique set of fact patterns that must be resolved on its own merits. No two cases are exactly alike, and neither are any two clients. We will provide you with the individualized representation that you require.

On the date that I filed a family-based immigration petition on behalf of my spouse, I was a lawful permanent resident of the United States. I have since become a US citizen. What effect will this have on my case?

Becoming a US citizen could exert a major positive effect on your case — in fact, it might even save your spouse years of waiting time. This benefit applies even if you didn’t obtain citizenship until after the date that you filed the immigrant visa petition.

Under these circumstances, you should submit proof of your US citizenship to the National Visa Center (NVC) so that they can upgrade your spouse’s visa priority date. “Proof” in this case means:

  • A copy of the biodata page of your U.S. passport (the page with your photo on it); or
  • A copy of your Certificate of Naturalization that states the date that you were naturalized.

Your US citizenship will also positively affect the priority date of any petition you filed on behalf of your spouse’s minor children. You will, however, have to file new documentation for these minor children. Consult an immigration attorney for details.

Is there any special documentation I should file if I decide to retain an immigration attorney to assist me in my dealings with the National Visa Center (NVC)?

If you retain an attorney to represent you, you will need to submit a signed and dated Form G-28. Notice of Entry of Appearance as Attorney or Representative.

I interviewed for an immigrant visa with a US embassy, but I was refused. Can I appeal to the National Visa Center (NVC)?

No, unfortunately, the National Visa Center (NVC) has no authority to overturn the decision of a US embassy or consulate concerning an immigrant visa. Although appealing the denial of an immigrant visa denial is almost impossible, you can file a Motion to Reconsider with the embassy or consulate that denied your visa petition in the first place.

I was issued a US immigrant visa, but I could not make it to the United States by the date that it expired. Can I apply for another visa with a later expiration date?

Yes, you can apply for a new immigrant visa with the US embassy or consulate that issued it in the first place, although they are under no obligation to offer you a new one. You will be required to provide a certain amount of documentation and pay another processing fee before you can receive a new immigrant visa.

I applied for an immigration visa for my relative, who is now facing a life or death medical emergency. Can the National Visa Center (NVC) expedite the process of approving my relative’s immigrant visa?

That depends on whether your relative’s visa priority date is current (whether a visa is available under the current visa quota system). If his or her priority date is current, the National Visa Center (NVC) has the option to expedite processing. If his or her priority date is not current, however, the National Visa Center (NVC) cannot help even in a life or death emergency.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Act Now

If you need help dealing with the National Visa Center (NVC)., getting to the United States, or securing a fiance(e)’ visa or immigrant visa for a family member, we can help. At the Herman Legal Group, we have been getting immigrants into the United States for decades now.

Call us at (+1) (216) 696-6170 or (+1)(614) 300-1131, complete our online contact form, or stop by one of our offices in Columbus, Ohio, Cleveland, Ohio, or Detroit, Michigan.

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