By: Melissa Chavin

The National Visa Center is where family-based petitions are held after they are adjudicated by the USCIS and approved, but before the priority date on them becomes current and able to act on.  (This is true for employment-based immigrant petitions as well.)  The filing date of any immigrant relative petition (Form I-130) is the priority date.  It is one’s number for the queue of those waiting in various family-based preference categories, such as sibling of a US citizen, adult child of a US citizen, spouse of a permanent relative, etc.

While the petition waits at the NVC, circumstances may change, and the immigrant visa applicant may want to make the NVC aware of the changes.  The National Visa Center has done away with direct contact through its attorney email box known as “NVC Attorney.”  Instead, attorneys are asked to use their online contact sheet, called the Public Inquiry Form (PIF).  The NVC has explained to the American Immigration Lawyer Association (AILA) Department of State Liaison Committee, when they toured the NVC in person in November 2019, that inquiries by attorneys via the PIF will be funneled to the NVC Attorney responders in their Written Inquiry Unit. 

“Currently Under Review after Six Weeks” NVC Response

I have had mixed success with receiving replies from NVC Attorney since this change was made.  One inquiry made to keep a filing active has resulted in a type of “non-response response” with a simple, but ominous, reply of “The correspondence submitted is currently under review. An appropriate action will be taken once this review is completed.”  This reply was received after a wait of over six weeks.  No other reply has been forthcoming a month later.  I will likely need to send follow up inquiries.

NVC Successful Response!

A second inquiry made in mid-November 2019 had a better result.  (Names, year of filing, and country of origin have been changed for privacy.)

Sarah had been petitioned by her brother Jimmy in 2011.  Her US citizen brother Jimmy had designated Sarah’s home country in 2011 for the jurisdiction of her immigrant visa application: Australia.  Since that time, Sarah has moved to the United Kingdom - many time zones away.  Sarah is now firmly settled in the UK, with a spouse and two toddlers.  She has newly acquired British Citizenship.

Sarah hired me to (1) move the jurisdiction of her case to the UK, (2) add her contact information with the National Visa Center particularly her email address, (3) amend the email address for Jimmy, and (4) obtain immigrant visa numbers for the London US Embassy for her husband and children.  

I sent an inquiry to the public inquiry form (PIF) online with the National Visa Center in November 2019.  I included Sarah’s Australian immigrant visa number.  This immigrant visa number had happily been issued despite the fact that Sarah’s priority date is not likely to become current for at least six years, per the Department of State’s monthly visa bulletin.  

Having heard other attorneys’ frustrations with the NVC PIF, I decided to reduce the number of big inquiries to one.  I would ask only to change the jurisdiction of Sarah’s filing to get a new immigrant number under the London US Embassy, an “LND” number.  “LND” is short for London.  I included the following for Sarah in addition to my two Forms G-28 Notice of Attorney Representation for Sarah and for Jimmy: (1) a biographic data page of Sarah’s new British passport, and (2) her driver’s license with her UK address. 

About seven weeks later (including the winter holidays), a positive response was received:  (1) Sarah has been issued an LND number, (2) updates were made to all email address on the file and (3) I have been added as attorney on the case.  This means that there is an additional ability to get case updates from the NVC.  Next task: try to get immigrant visa numbers for the derivative family members for Sarah’s case, so that the family will be able to immigrate together.  Stay tuned!