Understanding the Role of the National Visa Center

Calendar Icon Updated January 15, 2019
Green Cards

Once an initial visa immigrant petition is approved by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, it is transferred to the National Visa Center for continued processing. The NVC collects forms, fees and documents and reviews them to make sure everything is in order.

Because many Green Card categories have quotas and restrictions, there are yearly limits and that means the wait time for processing can be lengthy.

Because of this, the NVC establishes a Priority Date for each individual case. When that priority date becomes current, the NVC will contact the applicant by sending them an invoice for fees that are due, collect any additional documents and keep them on file until an interview can be scheduled at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate. After this takes place, the NVC will transfer the case to the appropriate authority who will be conducting the Green Card interview.

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Applicants should be aware that original documents or certified copies of documents must be submitted with the application. Photocopies are not acceptable. Additionally, documents that are not in English or the official language of the country from where the application is being made must be accompanied by certified translations, signed by the translator.

Documents required by the NVC typically include:

  • Birth certificate
  • Marriage certificate
  • Divorce or marriage termination certificate
  • Military documents and records
  • Copy of passport biographic page
  • Any prison or court records
  • Other supporting official records

Sometimes, these records are not available, either because they were never created, or because of a lack of cooperation by countries of origin. In those cases, it’s best to contact the NVC to see if alternate processes exist to fulfill the records requirements.

Depending on quotas, restrictions and other variables, NVC processing may take months or even years before a Green Card application can be finalized. However, after notification is received that a case is being processed, applicants must contact the NVC at least once a year or documents and fees on the case will expire and they will need to be resubmitted to continue processing.

To follow the status of an application, there are several ways to contact the NVC.

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I acknowledge and understand that by submitting this Contact Request form through clicking "Check Eligibility!", I provide my express consent to the following: (1) That I am bound by Eligibility.com LLC’s Privacy Policy and Terms of Use; (2) That I am not required to submit this form, and thereby agree to all terms located herein, as a condition to receive any property, goods, or services that may be offered, and that I may revoke my consent at any time.

By email: Send an inquiry to nvcinquiry@state.gov. Case numbers should be typed in the subject line and you should only ask about one case for each email you send.

By phone: Call NVC Customer Service at (603) 334-0700 Monday through Friday from 7 am to midnight, EST.

In writing: National Visa Center, Attn: WC, 31 Rochester Avenue, Portsmouth, NH 03801-2915.

Eligibility Team

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