The U.S. Department of State, National Visa Center (NVC) plays a key role in applications for immigrant visas that are processed by the US Consulate in Saigon.
After the immigrant petition is approved by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), the file is forwarded to the NVC for review. The NVC then sends processing instructions to the sponsor, collects application fees and supporting documents, and ensures the application package is complete.
It is very important to provide NVC with the documents and forms that they require. If something is incorrect or missing from your application, it will add at least 3 to 6 months to the NVC processing time. NVC has 500 employees but the work load has meant serious backlogs. Recently the NVC said they have 50,000 email inquiries waiting for response and the response time is estimated at 60 business days.
After the NVC finishes processing a case, an interview is scheduled for the beneficiary at the US Consulate and the file is transferred to Saigon. The interview can only be scheduled when the priority date is current. For non-current Preference petitions, the case will remain with the NVC until the priority date is ready to become current. The Consulate in Saigon makes the final decision whether to issue the immigrant visa.
For fiscal year 2014, the NVC received many more family-based cases than in years past. Some of the family based Preference cases had a shorter waiting time and they became current in FY 2014. Last year NVC received up to 25,000 per week, compared to previous years when approximately 8,000 cases per week were received.
The result of this volume increase has been a delay at the NVC in processing times. The NVC has improved its case creation backlog. This process was taking 45 days during the summer of 2014. As of November 2014, case creation processing has been reduced to approximately two weeks. However, delays continue at the document review stage. The NVC reports time-frames of two months for this part of the process. While this is a slight improvement, the NVC is working toward cross training employees and shifting personnel to address this problem.
Some case types are automatically expedited. These include K-1 (fiancé/e) cases, orphan petitions, and refugee cases. The NVC only does initial data entry on such cases, and then forwards them on to the visa issuing post within 24 hours. Thus, there is no need to make an expedite request in these matters. For other case types, if the petition is current and if there is an emergency situation, any request to expedite processing should be made directly to the US Consulate.
People are often surprised by the length of time it takes to bring even immediate relatives to the United States from abroad. The NVC is only one part of the process. There is also USCIS case processing and processing at the US Consulate in Saigon. Still, it is good to see that the NVC is taking steps to try to improve processing times.------------------------------
In the Fiscal Year 2014, the US Consulate in Saigon issued 24,000 Immigrant visas.
Immediate Relatives of US citizen sponsors received about 6,200 visas in FY 2014. There were about 3,100 visas for the spouses and children of citizens, and about 3,000 visas for the parents of US citizens. Widows of American citizens received seven visas.
18,000 visas were issued for Family Preference cases. This number included 1,650 for the adult unmarried children of US citizens, 3,500 visas for the spouses and minor children of Permanent Residents, and 380 visas for the adult unmarried children of Permanent Residents.
Married children of American citizens received 5,500 visas, and siblings of US citizens were issued 7,100 visas.
Q. 1. Married children of US citizens and siblings of US citizens received more than half of the 24,000 visas issued by the Consulate last year. What is the reason for this?
A.2. In the F3 and F4 cases, the spouse and children of the applicant must each receive a separate visa. There may be only 3,000 or 4,000 F3 and F4 applicants, but their family members bring the number of visas issued to over 12,000. If the regulation was changed so that only one visa per family was needed, that would free up 9,000 – 10,000 visas. These visas could be used for other F3 and F4 families and thus reduce the waiting times in these categories, perhaps from 10+ years to only 5 years.
Q.2. My relative’s petition has been current for two months but they have not received an interview appointment from NVC. What can be done?
A.2. First, you should contact the US Consulate to see if they have received the petition from NVC. If they do not have the petition, you need to contact NVC.
Q.3. I think one of my nephews is eligible for CSPA, but NVC does not want to confirm that. What can I do?
A.3. NVC does not make CSPA determinations. They leave that to the US Consulate in Saigon. The result is that children over 20 years of age are not included in the F3 and F4 interview appointment letters. After the family receives an interview appointment from NVC, you should contact the Consulate about CSPA for your nephew.