NVC Case Processing: Answers to FAQ [2023]

Questions About Your NVC Case

If your case is as the National Visa Center (NVC), you may have a lot of questions about NVC case processing, like the purpose of the NVC, the length of the process, and what you need to send.  Below, find out answers to commonly asked questions about your NVC case.


What is the NVC?

The NVC stands for the National Visa Center.

The NVC is an agency within the U.S. Department of State.  The Department of State is the agency of the government that, in part, oversees immigration cases at immigration offices outside of the U.S. referred to as consulates or embassies.

The NVC is located in New Hampshire, USA.  The NVC organizes and processes applications for immigrant visas. An “immigrant visa” is a type of visa that lets you enter the U.S., stay in the U.S. permanently, and receive a green card (or lawful permanent resident card).

As part of this process, you have to send lots of items to the NVC, including your fees, application, and supporting documents.  After the NVC gets what it needs, it will schedule you a visa interview at the U.S. consulate in your country.

How does my case get to the NVC?

Two agencies handle the process to bring a family member from outside the U.S.

The first agency, USCIS (United States Citizenship and Immigration Service) reviews and approves the immigrant visa petition, Form I-130.  If your I-130 has been approved,  then you should have received notice by mail informing you of the approval.

After approval of the I-130, USCIS  sends your case to the second agency, the National Visa Center (NVC).  Once the NVC receives the approved I-130 petition, the NVC will create a case and mail or email you instructions on how to proceed.  It can take 4 – 6 weeks to receive notice from the NVC but in 2021 reports indicate email notifications in as little as 3-4 days!

The mail or email notice from the NVC asks you to log in into their online system (Consular Electronic Application Center, or CEAC) using the case number and invoice number listed in the notice.  In CEAC, you will pay two fees, $325 and $120.  The system will then ask you to complete an immigrant visa application for your family member, on Form DS260.  You’ll also be required to upload electronic scanned copies of documents such as your family member’s passport and birth certificate.

How will I know if the NVC has my case?

As stated in the previous section, the NVC will notify you by mail or by email.  It’s very important, therefore, to inform NVC of your address or email.  You can notify the NVC of your address through AskNVC where you can fill out an online form.  Or you can call (603) 334 0888. When you speak to someone over the phone, make sure you’re ready to provide the names, and dates of birth of all people involved in the case.  You should also have available any receipt notices or other documents you have received from immigration officials.

We have two pages to help you.  First, we have a page to help you know if the NVC has your case here. Once you know the NVC has your case, we have an article on how to check your case status.

What documents and information will I send the NVC?

Documents for the NVC

You will need to send the following:

  • Your passport information page.  This is the page with your picture, name and other information
  • Your birth certificate with translation, if necessary
  • Your marriage certificate, if you have one.  You will also need to translate this if in a foreign language.
  • Any divorce decrees, if they exist.   You will also need to translate them if in a foreign language.
  • Any Court or Prison documents if you have ever been arrested in any country.
  • Police certificates for every country you have lived in for more than 6 months since you were 16 years old.  Police certificates are different depending on the country so you will need to check the specifics on the Department of State Reciprocity Table.
  • The family member who petitioned for you will also need to submit their U.S. Passport, Taxes and form I-864

For more information on what to send the NVC, read here.

Information for the NVC

The following is information that the NVC will need to know:

  • Your full name
  • All the information on your valid unexpired passport
  • Your current address and all addresses since you were 16 years old
  • The names, dates of birth and location of your parents, child, spouse and other immediate family members
  • Information about your visits to the U.S.
  • Information about any prior criminal and immigration violations

How do I send the NVC all the forms and documents?

It’s important to note that you can only send the NVC documents in the manner or way that they want you to.  In other words, if NVC wants you to scan and upload documents to their system then that is what you must do.  If they want you to mail copies in then you should mail them in.

The way to find out how you send your documents is to log in here.  You will need your case number and invoice number.  Both of these will be on the notices sent to you by mail or email from the NVC.  The email or mail will be titled “Notice of Immigrant Visa Case Creation” and will contain instructions where and how to login to Consular Electronic Application Center.

How long will NVC take to process my case?

A common question is “How long does the NVC take to review forms and documents?”  After you’ve electronically submitted the visa application, fees, and all supporting documents through CEAC, it can take from 2 weeks to 3 months for NVC to review.  If everything is complete then you’ll receive an email with the following message:

This notice is to inform you that your case for an immigrant visa is documentarily complete at the National Visa Center (NVC) and has been since [date].  NVC has received all of the fees, forms, and documents required before attending an immigrant visa interview. Your petition is awaiting an interview appointment. At this time, no further action is required.  We appreciate your patience.

After the NVC sends you this confirmation, then you can expect to wait between 2-6 months for the NVC to schedule an interview at the U.S. consulate in your home country.  After your interview is scheduled, you will need to get a medical exam and register online.

NOTE:  In 2023, many individuals filed all the required paperwork and continue waiting for appointment notifications.   Sadly, the NVC interview schedule was severely delayed by COVID.  Unfortunately, there’s not much you can do but patiently wait since many consulate posts are providing limited services due to COVID outbreaks in their respective countries.

Why is the NVC taking so long to process my case?

The NVC processes cases at different speeds at different times depending on how many cases they are handling. The more people applying for visa, the longer it takes. That said, NVC case delays are frustrating.

The most important thing is that the NVC has confirmed that it has received from you all of the necessary forms and supporting documents.  If you have not received confirmation, then you should contact the NVC as soon as possible.  You can contact them through their webpage on AskNVC and complete their online submission or call (603) 334 0888.

How long does it take for the NVC to send my case to the embassy or consulate?

First, understand that the NVC won’t send your case to the embassy or consulate until it’s time to schedule an interview.  

Second, the NVC attempts to schedule your interview and send your case within 90 days (three months) of receiving the required forms and documents. However, some individuals may  wait up to two years or more for an interview due to limited appointment availability at a particular consulate or embassy and backlogs at the NVC.

For example, if your case is processed at the consulate in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico (One of the busiest consulates in the world) then you’re likely to wait over a year for the NVC to “send” your case to the consulate after an interview has been scheduled.  The delay may increase if there is a COVID outbreak in Mexico and the consulate provides only limited to services.

Note, documentarily qualified cases from January 2020 are currently being scheduled at the consulate in Ciudad Juarez Mexico

NVC Time Frame: What is the NVC interview Timeframe in 2023?

The time it takes for NVC  to schedule an interview varies wildly depending on the consulate and visa category.   Generally though, the NVC’s goal is to schedule you within 90 days.   However, they rarely meet that goal.

But the NVC is cautiously optimistic that many consulates will have increased appointment availability in 2023.  Meaning, that individuals who submitted forms and documents in 2022 and 2022 can expect their interviews sometime this year or early 2024.  Some good news, In March 2023, the number of people scheduled for green card interviews saw a significant jump. The NVC scheduled 50,223 interviews in March, compared to 36,372 interviews in February.

Here are the raw numbers as of March 2023:

As you can see, almost half a million people are waiting for their interviews at various consulates and embassies around the world.    The NVC provides a time frame but it only provides the processing times for reviewing applications and documents on CEAC.  It doesn’t provide delays at specific consulate posts, COVID delays and other factors impacting scheduling time frames.

How can I contact the NVC?

There are two ways to contact the NVC:

  • You may contact the NVC online through: AskNVC.  In order to use this method you should have a valid email address and all information related to your case
  • You may also call the NVC at 603 334-0700. You will need to have all the information related to you and your relative including, but not limited to, any immigration receipt numbers, full names and dates of birth.

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