In April 1994, the National Visa Center (NVC for brevity) started operation. It is the immigrant visa facility situated in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, responsible for processing petitions previously approved by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) in the Department of Homeland Security.
The role of NVC commences upon receipt of the approved petition from the USCIS. Monthly, the Visa Office institutes Qualifying Dates that decides when are petitions may ready for processing. The length of waiting time before the case becomes ripe for processing mainly depends on the visa category and country of birth of the applicant. Until and unless the status of the petition becomes current, the application will not be processed.
If the visa category is an immediate relative category, the case is always current. Whereas in case the visa requested falls on family preference or employment categories, the NVC will be determining whether the case is current or not based on the present qualifying date and the date the petition was filed.
When the petition is current or to become current, the NVC will forward the beneficiary an Agent of Choice and Address letter and DS-3032 along with further instructions. At the same time, the sponsor will receive an Affidavit of Support and processing fee bill. The fee is payable through a cashier’s check or money order in U.S. Dollars. It must be drawn against a U.S. Bank and must be payable to the Department of State and sent with the corresponding immigrant visa fee bills.
If the case is not yet current, the NVC will notify the petitioner that the NVC has received the documents pertaining to his case and will retain it until the case becomes current.
The NVC opens itself to any inquiries regarding cases at hand via email, 24 hour automated recorded message system, mail and telephone. However, email is the preferred means of communication.