Sunday, September 22, 2013

FAQ: National Visa Center / Consular Processing

Since many readers requested more details about consular processing steps, please see below blog post which gives step-by-step details during consular processing for NVC applicants. It also includes latest changes made by State Department on September 2013.
Update (August 2018): Please see this new link for 35+ pages about NVC/Consular processing:
Note: Consular Processing applies to applicant who live/resides outside US. If applicant is inside US, they can choose to either go for Adjustment Of Status or go outside US and apply for Consular Processing.

Update (November 2014): National Visa Center No Longer Collecting Original Civil Documents:

Step 1: Once your I-130/I-140 application is approved, USCIS sends it (I-797 Notice of Action) to NVC (National Visa Center). It may takes some time for NVC to receive the petition from USCIS (4-8 weeks). After receiving the petition, NVC will create a unique case number for your application.

If your PD is not current, NVC send you a letter informing you that they have received your petition from USCIS and they will hold it till the PD is current. You do not have to take any action. You will have to wait for PD to be current and then NVC will contact you (see below).

If your PD is current, please see steps below.

Step 2: NVC will send I-864 (affidavit of support) processing fee bill to the petitioner. Please also submit form DS-261 online. DS-261 form replaces paper form DS-3032 (Choice of Address and Agent form). Submit form(s) online.

Note: Starting September 1, 2013, all immigrant visa applicants will apply online using Form DS-260 (Application for Immigrant Visa and Alien Registration). Applicants will also choose their agent online using Form DS-261 (Choice of Address and Agent). Applicants will access both forms on the web at

These forms replace the paper DS-230 and DS-3032. The National Visa Center (NVC) may instruct some applicants who previously submitted Form DS-230 to submit Form DS-260. Only Diversity Visa and Cuban Family Reunification Parole applicants will continue to use the paper forms. If you have questions or feedback about Forms DS-260 and DS-261, contact the NVC at or 603-334-0700.

Step 3: Once you have paid I-864 fees (in step 2 above), NVC will send I-864 (affidavit of support) form to the petitioner. They can also ask you to download I-864 form from their website.

Also see FAQ for Fee Payment:

Tip: NVC will give you one year to pay the fees. NVC will reinstate I-130 after one year, but it may require additional work.

Step 4: Completely fill out I-864 form. Attach any supporting documents and send this back to NVC (do not send it to consulate). Remember to also include the bar code sheet (if applicable).

Step 5: As soon as NVC receives form DS-261, NVC will mail Immigrant Visa (IV) bill to the agent of choice (that you wrote in step 2 above).

Step 6: Once NVC receives the Immigrant Visa (IV) fees, NVC will send Packet 3 to agent of choice. Packet 3 is also called "Instruction Package For Immigrant Visa Applicants". The content of Package 3 will vary slightly depending on the local US consulate (where applicant will be interviewed). Please see FAQ below for typical documents required for Packet 3.

The Instructions Package will provide information on the forms and documents that the foreign spouse will have to submit in order to apply for an immigrant visa. As of September 1, 2013 the immigrant visa application will be submitted by DS-260 (see Step 2 above for more details and links). Paper DS-230 form would not be accepted (please see exceptions in step 2 above).

Tip: Some consulate send packet 3 and Packet 4 by email only.

Step 7: Complete Packet 3 and attach any supporting documents. Send the packet as per the instructions listed in that packet.

Step 8: Once NVC receives all required documents, approximately one month before your visa interview appointment, you will receive Packet 4 which includes (a) an appointment letter containing the date and time of the interview (b) instructions for obtaining a medical examination and (c) list of documents that must be brought to the consulate for the interview. Packet 4 is also called "Appointment Package For Immigrant Visa Applicants".

Tip: It can take between 1-4+ months for consulate to schedule interview (from the time they received the package from NVC).

Tip 2: It typically takes 1-4 weeks for NVC to send package to US Embassy/Consulate.

Step 9: The primary applicant and all other family members will have to go for medical exams, as per instructions in Packet 4. Learn More.

Tip: Medical exam can cost around $100-$300+ per person.

Step 10: On the scheduled day, applicant and any other accompanying family members will have to go for interview at the local US Consulate/Embassy. Remember to bring all documents listed in Packet 4. Also see local US embassy/consulate guidelines. More tips.

Tip: Estimated wait time for interview at the US Embassy/Consulate can be between 1-5 hours.

Step 11: Once you have successfully passed the interview in step 10, you will be notified that your immigrant visa (GC) have been approved.

Step 12: Once immigrant visa is approved, most of the documents will be put in a sealed envelope. This is called "Visa Packet". Do NOT open this envelope. You will get back original documents like birth certificate etc.

Step 13: Travel to US. Upon arrival to the United States, you should give your sealed Visa Packet to the Customs and Border Protection officer at the port of entry.

Step 14: You will be inspected by a Customs and Border Protection officer who has the authority to deny you entry into the United States. If you are found admissible, you will be admitted as a permanent resident of the United States.

You will be given a temporary I-551 (green card) stamp in your passport and will enter the U.S. as either a conditional or a lawful permanent resident. This gives you authority to live and work in the United States permanently. You will be mailed your green card.

If you do not receive your green card within 30 days of your arrival, please call the USCIS National Customer Service Center at 1-800-375-5283 or visit your local office by making an InfoPass appointment.

Note: You are required to enter the United States before the expiration date printed on your visa. When traveling, the primary (or principal) applicant must enter the United States before or at the same time as family members holding visas.

You have to pay a fee if you receive your immigrant visa on or after February 1, 2013. You must pay the USCIS Immigrant Fee to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) after you receive your immigrant visa and before you travel to the United States. (IR-3, IH-3, IR-4, IH-4, SB-1, SI-1, SI-2, SI-3, SQ-1, SQ-2, SQ-3, K-1, K-2, K-3, and K-4 visa holders will not pay the fee.) Select USCIS Immigrant Fee on the USCIS website for more information.

Important Notice: USCIS will not issue a Permanent Resident Card (Form I-551 or Green Card) until you have paid the fee.

USCIS link on consular processing: (opens in new window)
Update (August 2018): Please see this new link for 35+ pages about NVC/Consular processing:

Q. Which documents should be sent in Packet 3?
A. The documents requested in the Packet 3 vary by consulate, but generally include:
  • Form DS-2001 Notification of Applicant Readiness (this may be optional for some consulate).
  • Online Form DS-260 Application for Immigrant Visa and Alien Registration (paper DS-230 would not be accepted, except for Diversity Visa and Cuban Family Reunification Parole applicants).
    • Note: Do NOT sign Part II of the form until your interview at the U.S. consulate
  • A copy of your birth certificate
  • Certified copies of any court or prison records
  • Marriage certificate
  • Records indicating the termination of any prior marriages that you’ve entered into
  • A certified copy of your military record if you have served in any country’s armed forces
  • Police certificates
  • A copy of the identity page of your current, valid passport
  • Two (2) passport-sized photographs
  • Form I-212 ONLY if you’ve been previously removed from the U.S. and must request permission to reapply for a visa
Note: A notarized translation is required for any document that is not in English.

Q. What happens during the interview at the consulate?
A. The consular officer will ask you multiple questions about the documents that you have submitted and answers that you have provided on your immigration forms to verify their accuracy.

You may also be questioned about the nature of your relationship, including how you and your partner met, details about your wedding, and other questions about your life together. At the end of the interview, you will be required to take an oath and sign Part II of form DS-230, affirming that everything in your application is true.

If the officer has any reason to doubt that your marriage is real, they may send your application back to USCIS for reexamination. Otherwise, your immigrant visa application will be approved. If your application is denied, it will be reviewed by a supervising officer, who may also request that the State Department review the application. Denials may not be appealed.

Q. What’s the difference between lawful permanent residence and conditional permanent residence?
A. If you’ve been married for less than two years at time of submitting petition for spouse, the foreign spouse will receive conditional permanent resident status upon entry into the United States. This status is valid for two years.

Ninety days before this status expires, the conditional permanent resident must file the form I-751 to remove the conditional status and become a lawful permanent resident.

If you are married for more than 2 years at time of submitting petition for spouse, the foreign national spouse will receive a lawful permanent residence.

Q. Where are US Embassy/Consulate located?
A. Consular Processing must be done at the U.S. consulate or embassy in the foreign country of residence or country of birth. The State Department website has links to U.S. consulates around the world.

For China, Hong Kong, Taiwan and Seoul, please see below:

Consulate General of the U.S.A.
1, Shamain South Street
Guangzhou 510133
People’s Republic of China

Hong Kong:
U.S. Consulate General
26 Garden Road
Hong Kong
People’s Republic of China

American Institute in Taiwan
#7, Lane 134, Hsin Yi Road
Section 3, Taipei

US Embassy in Seoul, Korea
188 Sejong-daero, Jongno-gu,
Seoul, Korea


You can also see other cases in GC Tracker:

Also See:

1. FB Category - Frequently Asked Questions

2. How To Calculate NVC Case Number

3. How to file I-485 Application (if applicant is inside US).

More Reading:

Please click here for latest immigration news or see the right side menu for the latest analysis, news stories and other useful FAQ or USCIS links -->


  1. Thank you Amazon. This is very detailed and very helpful :)

  2. I have heard of cases, where the petition goes into "additional processing" after it is initially received by NVC.
    Could it be seen as part of the regular process or does this only apply to a small percentage of the petitions?

    1. These are either chosen at random or when it triggers more checks (such as specific names, locations, etc).

  3. Thanks Amazon! A few comments:

    1) NVC sent paperwork well before PD became current - august 2013 (in our case - f1 family based visa, pd march 2007)

    2) NVC sent ds3032, and later i864 with form ds230 following that. Never received any "packet 3". Documents in "packet 3" were supposed to be attached to ds230 (according to NVC email)

    3) Never received or was instructed to fill out ds2001.

    4) Current case status is waiting for ds230 approval, then once PD becomes current, interview at local consulate (kiev ukraine) for consular processing

    1. Also we never received a "packet 3" and have yet to receive "packet 4". Only received an email from NVC instructing to fill out ds230 and attach supporting documents.

    2. Yeah, packet 3 (instruction package) and packet 4 can be sent by email. It really depends on US consulate in each country. Some consulate may not send packet 3 at all.

      You should fill out form DS230, scan all documents they asked and then send it to them. That would be the fastest for that consulate (kiev ukraine).

    3. A quick clarification:

      "Some consulate may not send packet 3 at all." means "Some consulate may not send packet 3 at all by postal mail". They will send it through email (asking you to submit DS 230 form, etc). They can ask you to scan all documents and send it by email. I have updated the blog post above.

  4. Part of step 1, as mentioned above, in order to go over this whole process the priority date has to be current. I would like to just find out if our priority date would be considered current. The priority date is Aug-26-2013 and as the cut-off date for Oct 2013 is still Sep-08-2013, does this mean that our priority date of Aug-26-2013 is still current? Thanks for the response in advance.

    1. Yes - any date before September 08, 2013 would be current,

  5. Wooooooow, is not easy processing

  6. Wooooooow, is not easy processing

  7. My attorney filled up the DS 260 but I check it and it says INCOMPLETE because the E-Signature was not yet signed, do I need to sign the E-Signature or the attorney who filled up my DS 260? I look at other forum but I cannot see the answer to my question please help me... Thanks

    1. Please see this:

      The applicant signs it. Attorney only helps in preparing the documents.

  8. if my case has been approved but I have not received any message from NVC, can I go ahead to apply( fill and send forms I-864 and DS-261) if my spouse is outside US?

    1. You will need NVC case number and IIN before you can send forms to them.

  9. Plz need some help my mom filed for me She is lpr and i just complered 22 im in belize my priority date is june 26 2013 and on 25 Octeber 2013 i recieved a nitice that days we have approved your case and now it says its on post decision activity does this mean ill soon go for an appiontmenr prolly next year or i have to wait till 2019 plz help all my dreams come to an abrupt end if its on 2019 plz help someone do you know how much will i have to wait to go to america d only country ive ever loved america plz i love u plz

    1. Please see the USCIS link below:

  10. Dear Amazon ....I submit DS260 by online....but my civil document send to NVC by post office with IV fee paid document cover sheet. these process is right? plz advice me....

    1. Yes, they changes the rule so that you can only file DS 260 online. They would also send you instruction to where you should send the documents.

    2. Its nt a reply actually .. I'm asked to submit DS-260 online.. can u please guide me how u did this.. n barcodes...
      Where to pay to get the barcode..??

  11. Hi Amazon, I have a question.
    If I am in India EB2 queue with an accepted I-140 but my PD is not current. I am going to go for Consular Processing as I am not sure that I will be in US when my date becomes current.
    So, USCIS would send my approved I-140 to NVC and NVC will send me a letter that they are holding my petition for my PD to be current.
    When after few years my PD becomes current, NVC starts with further steps. But what happens if date retrogress before GC is approved? Does the process pause wherever it is? Or does it continue till any particular step?

    1. Once the PD is current, NVC will start with the steps mentioned above. The interview will be set up as long as visa is available.

  12. heloo amazone
    i have paid IV fee 230$ but i don't recive Packet 3 for "Instruction Package For Immigrant Visa Applicants".. pls tell me what time it would be takan by NVC.. can i complit the DS-260 Form online. and comlit the all civil document... this form is updat in my login id.. pls answer me as soon as possibal..
    Thank you

    1. Yes, you can submit the DS-260 form online. You will need the IID and case number to register. You can also start gathering all the documents that would be required.

      You can also join us in the forum. There are many people who just got I-130 approved.

    2. ThanK You Amazon
      I Have Submit the DS-260 Form. How Many time will take for My visa interview..

  13. Hi, my I-824 was approved in late October, when can I expect NVC to contact me? Thank you.

  14. Hey my case number starts with ISL am been asked to submit Application for Immigrant Visa and Alien Registration and civil u to submit my form online, if sonwould i have to submit my civil documents via post or online...

  15. Dear Amazone,
    After my PD is current and I already submit all the required documents from my side to the employer, I was surprised that he failed to prove its ability to pay the prevailing wage.
    What can I do now?
    EB3 ROW

  16. My mom file for me my pd is june 2008 when willi start to receive document am waiting so long

  17. Dear amazone my mother usc file for me am unmarried over 21 my pd is june 2008 how long before I will get a call from nvc

  18. Hi. I have a couple of questions. My husband submitted his passport with the last packet we received from the NVC. how do we get it back because it's required for his consulate interview. And can he get a new one?

  19. My father priority date is September 9, 1990 F4 classification and its going to be current next month hopefully according to the estimator. Do we need to fill up the new form online?

  20. My father a usc file for me unmarried daughter over 21 my pd date is july 2008 how long now nvc will contac me

  21. My husband passed an interview over 6 months ago, but still not get the visa. What we can do in this case? Who can help us ?

  22. Could you please give me an idea of what is going on with my case, because I'm so confused on why is taking so long. I petitioned for my husband who lives in the dominican rep. 9 months and 2 weeks ago, I'm a u.s citizen and the only thing I have received for now was a notification that my case was approved and that the NVC received it on March 24, 2014. This is honestly so agonizing, I thought the process was shorter for u.s citizens. I honestly feel hopeless, and don't know what to do, when I call they are just so rude.

    1. U need to wait at least 30 days after nvc recieved it.

  23. Hi i applied for my parents. now my case is in visa center. they asked original documents. but i have only one copy of my original birth certificate and my parents marriage certificate. what should i do? how can i sent to both. i applied separately.

  24. Hi i applied for my parents. now my case is in visa center. they asked original documents. but i have only one copy of my original birth certificate and my parents marriage certificate. what should i do? how can i sent to both. i applied separately.

  25. Pre paid visa surprise charge cards are generally cheap money by using a plastic-type zippy minute card on the restriction for the price that the workplace or perhaps a mum or dad wish to pay using a give to a youngster, or maybe advantage, incentives, remissions with regards to employees.carte visa

  26. Hi, my husband has a green card he applied for me and our son, our PD is 7Nov 2013 , we are expecting a new baby on next Sep, what we have to do if the visa issued befor Delivery or even after Delivery ?????

  27. I am worried about the new baby have we fill anew application for him? ??

  28. hi! I am the principal applicant. I was approved for the immigrant visa and a permanent resident of the United State now. I believe my family members are eligible to join derivative from my approved visa petition. My wife and my children want to apply for the immigrant visa at this time. I contacted the US embassy in Manila and were advised to prepare the documents for the interview. My family is preparing the documents and need to fill out the Form DS-260. I log in to but the Form DS-260 is not available for my family to fill out. what should I do?

    1. Hi have you solved your problem?I am encountering the same issue right now. Could you please give me info how you solved it? Thank you so much.

    2. You need to first have a case number from Packet 3 that the NVC sends to you before you can begin filing DS-260 online. You cannot fill it out before your green card petition gets to this stage in anticipation. Your petitioner must have filed and got approved a I-130, paid all fees and bills, and submitted a correct and sufficient I-864 affidavit of support. After all that, then you can get a case number to begin DS-260.

  29. hello my dear friends
    now I've selected for the US green card lottery Visa, now I have to fill DS 260 form
    I can not understand following Question. Kindly advise me

    Do you seek to enter the United States for the purpose of performing skilled or unskilled labor but have not yet been certified by the Secretary of Labor?

  30. I am akshay desai..i am f2a visa benifeciary.we have receieved a confirmation mail from NVC that they have got all the necessary documents and they will schedule an interview on april 3rd 2014. Still i have not got an interview in mumbai consulate ..the PD written is 11 sep 2013.. How much time it will take to schedule an interview..plz do rply..

  31. How to submit multiple supporting documents to nvc via email?

    1. There is no such method that I am aware of. You cannot send supporting documents to your green card consular processing application through email. It must be paper copies of the original document. Sometimes the NVC even requires originals in which case you must send it to them. You cannot scan and email support documents.

  32. How to submit multiple supporting documents to nvc via mail? Can I send my supporting documents with my sister and mom in same envelope? Thank you

  33. My case was sent back to USCIS . Iam married for 8 years my wife spent 5 years with me in Egypt and coz of the situation here and wasn't safe my wife went back to USA and when it get better in Egypt my wife couldn't come back coz she have problem with her back and she can't fly for long way for many hours . I really don't know what to do to prove our relationship if my wife can't come back to Egypt and for sure I can't go to USA to be with her without visa

  34. Hi, I filed family visa for my married daughter in India in 2004. I got a mail asking to pay for affidavit of support. They have two more kids since I initially submitted the application. At what point can I add them? Also how long does it take to go from current state to interview if I fill out paperwork on time? Thanks

  35. My employer sent the required documents to NVC and I already received an email from NVC stating that they have received the said documents. I'm still in the process of getting my police clearance.

    My concern is, nowadays, NVC is taking 60 days to review documents.

    -Does that mean that I will have a delay in getting an interview visa schedule because my documents are not complete?

    - once NVC receives the police clearance that I will send them, will it take 60+ more days besides the 60 days before?

    Your help will be appreciated. Thank you.

  36. Hello i have very interesting question, My case was send at NVC at 18 Apr 2014 when the VISA BULLETIN was current for dates till 08 September 2013, and my priority date is July 22 2013, in April 2014 i started with NVC processing,send all documents payed all fees, but because of case delaying and some mistakes we completed our case in 12 November 2014, so i want to ask do i need to wait for visa bulletin to came current , because right now is 22 MAR 2013 or they consider me like current because case was in NVC in 18 APR 2014 when visa bulletin was CURRENT for aplications till 08 SEP 2013? Please answer me if i should wait 5-6 months till my case will be current again, or im considered as current already?


    1. Please sign now . And share your friends

  38. Thanks for your sharing,i learn a lot.I'm applying for a K-1 USA visa from the UK. I was wondering how to track it beyond the USCIS. I know it goes to the NVC then goes to my local consulate. Is there anyway to know online where the I can track it? The USCIS part had an online case status, however the other parts don't seem to.
    I want to track when it is received by the NVC and leaves the NVC and arrives at the London US Embassy.
    Does anyone have any ideas?
    make barcode in

  39. I am waiting for my petition to be approved, my father filed for me back in 2005 but I have moved home. Where and whom do you notify of change of address. Thanks

  40. Know anyone here how long the NVC take to schedule interview after approved cases right now?(2015) has taken an extremely long time on anything else now that they've had at least "60 days" on all documents we submitted.

  41. Hey if my father started filing for me last year sept 2014, I would like to know how long it takes am 18yrs old.

  42. I have got NVC welcome letter. My sister-in law had filed immigration visa file in I-130 category in the year 2003. At that time we had only one son so we filed for the three of us. Now in the year 2011, we had a baby girl. How can we add her name in to our existing file which is right now with NVC. Pl. give guidance.


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