NVC/CP Process



Consular Processing is the method by which an individual obtains their greencard at a US consulate outside the United States, as opposed to adjusting their status in the United States. Below are the basic steps involved in this process.

Step #1 USCIS Issues an I-140 Approval Notice

Step #2 USCIS Sends the File to the National Visa Center (NVC)

Step #3 No Further Action is Taken Until The Priority Date Becomes Current

Step #4 The NVC Issues a Fee Bill for Fees Due for Visa Processing

Step #5 The Visa Applicant Pays the Fee Bill to the NVC

Step #6 The Visa Applicant Submits Packet III to the NVC

Step #7 The NVC Sends the Entire File to the Consulate

Step #8 The Consulate Schedules an Interview

Step #9 The Visa Applicant Attends the Interview and the Visa is Issued

Click here for a link to a flowchart that outlines the process.



A priority date is the date your case was initially filed, either with the Department of Labor for PERM cases, or USCIS for Schedule A cases. The US Department of State issues a monthly bulletin (Visa Bulletin) which lists cutoff priority dates for different immigration categories and birth countries. Only those intending immigrants with priority dates before the cutoff date are permitted to file their adjustment of status applications and obtain their green card. The cutoff dates generally move forward over time as old cases are disposed of. However, in certain cases, such as if a large number of old cases work their way through the system at about the same time, the cutoff dates can actually retrogress (or roll back).

How Do I Know if My Priority Date Meets the Most Recent Qualifying Date? And What Does That Mean?

If your priority date is earlier than the Qualifying Date for your visa class and your foreign state chargeability, your case is ready to begin processing at the NVC. Learn more by reviewing the Visa Bulletin. (Link)

How do I Know What My Priority Date Is?

Your Priority Date is listed on your I-140 approval notice.


The National Visa Center (NVC) is a centralzed “warehouse” that performs fee collection, document review, and interview scheduling for immigrant visa cases for nearly all U.S. embassies and consulates. The NVC is located in Portsmouth, New Hampshire.

How Long Does it Take the USCIS to Send the File for an Approved Petition to the NVC?

USCIS normally sends a file to the NVC within one and five weeks after approval of the petition.

What is the First Item I Will Receive From the NVC After it Receives My Case?

If your Priority Date is not current, the NVC will send a letter indicating it has received your file and that no further action will be taken until your Priority Date is current. Approximately three to four months prior to the date on which it believs your Prioirty Date will become current, the NVC will issue a Fee Bill.

If your Priority Date is Current when the NVC receives your file, the NVC will issue an Immigrant Visa Fee Bill within a month after receiving your file from USCIS.

Who Does the NVC Send the Fee Bill To?

The Fee Bill is sent to the attorney who filed the case, or to the employer if the case was filed without an attorney.

What is an Immigrant Visa Fee? (Referred To As IV Fee Bill)

When a person applies for an immigrant visa at a US consulate, they have to pay an application fee to cover the costs of processing the visa at the consulate. The NVC collects this fee for prior to the case being sent to the consulate.

Where Do I Pay the Fee Bill?

The Fee Bill is paid online at the NVC website. Instructions are provided on the Fee Bill invoice.

I Heard Visa Fees were recently increased. How much do I have to pay?

Visa fees for cases processed at US consulates were increased effective July 13, 2010. You will be required to pay the fee in effect on the date your fee bill was issued, without regard to when the fee was actually paid.

I Have Received a Fee Bill But My Priority Date is Not Current. Should I Pay It?

No. Since the amount of your fee bill is set on the date it is issued, and not on the date you pay it, you gain no benefit by paying it early.

I Have Received a Fee Bill for the Wrong Amount. What Should I Do?

Ask the Paralegal/Attorney assigned to your case to contact the NVC to have the Fee Bill corrected.

I Already Paid My Fee Bill at the Old Rate, and Now I Have Received a New Fee Bill at a Higher Rate. What Should I Do?

Ask the Paralegal/Attorney assigned to your case to contact the NVC about resolving this problem.

I Have Gotten Married Since My I-140 Was Approved. Can I Add My Spouse to My Case?

Yes. Ask the Paralegal/Attorney assigned to your case to receive further instructions about how to proceed..

I Have Had an Child Since My I-140 Was Approved. Can I Add My Child to My Case?

Yes. Ask the Paralegal/Attorney assigned to your case to receive further instructions about how to proceed.

My Husband and I Separated but the IV Fee Bill was Paid for Him. Can I Request a Refund?

No. Each fee is nonrefundable, even if the visa is not issued for any reason.


What Happens After My Fee Bill Has Been Paid?

After the Fee Bill has been paid, the online Form DS-230 will be completed and all required documents will be sent to the NVC.

Why Are the DS-230 Part I and Part II Forms Required?

The DS-230 parts I and part II forms are designed to obtain biographic information for the applicant and family members to be used as part of the interview process. This information is very similar to the G-325 form, which a person completes if they are in the U.S. and applying for adjustment of status.

What Are the Documents Required to be Sent to the National Visa Center?

  • Paid Immigrant Visa Fee (or IV Fee Bill) for you, your spouse and children (if applicable)
  • Two recent (taken within the last six months) black and white or color photographs of size 50mm x 50mm
  • Original Police Clearance Certificate(s) for you and each of your family members over the age of 16.
  • Original or certified true copies of you and your family members (if applicable) birth certificates
  • Original or certified true copy of your marriage certificate (if applicable)
  • Original or certified true copy of your divorce decree/certificate (if applicable)
  • Original or certified true copy of your and/or your family’s military records (if applicable)
  • Original or certified true copy of you and/or your family’s Court and/or Prison Records (if applicable)
  • Original or certified true copy of you and/or your family’s Deportation Forms I-212 (if applicable)

What Will Happen if I Don’t Send all of the Required Documents?

The NVC will send you a request for the missing documentation. Your case will be delayed while this happens. The NVC will not send your file to the consulate or schedule an interview for you until all the necessary documentation and forms have been completed.

Do I Have to Include My Spouse and Children in the Applicant Document Processing Now or Can They Wait at the Time of Interview?

If your spouse and children plan on joining you in the United States all IV Fee Bills must be paid. Document Processing must also be completed for all applicants. At the time of interview all applicants should attend.

Is There a Deadline for Completing the Visa Process at the Consulate?

Yes. All cases must be completed within twelve months of the date on which the fee bill is issued.

What Happens if I Get Married After I Have Submitted All Applicant Document Processing?

Your spouse should be prepared to pay the IV Fee Bill and provide all necessary documents for the Applicant Document Processing at your interview. An original or certified/true copy of the marriage certificate should be provided.

How Long Will it Take the NVC to Send my File to the Consulate?

The NVC will normally send your file to the consulate within one month after the completion of your paperwork.

How Long Will it Take to Get My Interview Notice After the NVC Receives all of My Documents?

It depends upon how busy the consulate is. Normally within 30 days.

My Oldest Son Turns 21 in 3 Months. Can He Be Included on My Applicant Document Processing and Obtain a Green Card With Me?

Whenever there is a child turning 21 years old, urgent action must be taken to insure everything possible is done in order to get the case processed before the child “ages out”. Contact the paralegal/attorney assigned to your case immediately to discuss this further.

How Can I Check for an Interview Date?

Checking the interview date varies by country/consulate. Some consulates allow you to check the interview online. The NVC and the consulate provide an appointment letter for the interview.


The Embassy or Consular Officer will review your file and verify that you have completed and passed the medical examination and the security background check. The interview is normally less than 30 minutes.

What Should I Take to the Interview?

  • Interview Notice.
  • Employment verification letter from the sponsor employer.
  • Your family.
  • Your and your family’s (if applicable) original passports.
  • Medical exams completed by Embassy designated civil surgeon (in some countries this is sent directly from the civil surgeon to the consulate/embassy).
  • Original VisaScreen (for healthcare workers).
  • A copy of the completed DS-230 Part I and Part II forms for you and each family member (if applicable).
  • It is advisable, but not required, to bring copies of the previously submitted documents for the Applicant Document Processing (Packet III) that you provided to the National Visa Center.

I Wanted to Attend the Chennai, India Embassy and the NVC Has Assigned Me to the New Delhi, India Embassy. Can I Ask Them to Relocate My Interview?

You can ask the attorney/paralegal assigned to your case to provide the DS-3098 Transfer of Visa Form. The transfer is not guaranteed. It will create a delay in your case.

Why Would My Visa be Delayed?

  • You did not provide all of the required information.
  • The consular officer wants additional information beyond that which is normally required.
  • Your case is being held for administrative processing.

How Soon Do I Have to Enter the US After the Immigrant Visa Has Been Issued?

You must enter the US within six months after the visa has been issued.


The original green card should arrive within 30 days of your arrival into the United States.

What if I Enter the United States and After Many Months I Still do Not Have My Green Card?

USCIS instructs you to contact their office if you have entered the U.S. and it has been more than 60 days and you still have not received the green card.

If I Apply for a Social Security Card as Part of the Immigration Process, How Long Does it Take to Get the Social Security Card?

Normally, the Social Security Card is received within 30-40 days after being admitted in the United States. If you do not receive it within that time frame, call the Social Security Administration.

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