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Visa Processing at the National Visa Center

After an immigrant petition filed in the United States is approved by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS), it is forwarded to the National Visa Center (NVC) for processing. NVC plays an important role in the next steps of the immigrant visa process by providing instructions to petitioners, sponsors, and visa applicants; reviewing required Affidavit of Support forms from sponsors; and receiving fees, application forms, and other required documents from visa applicants.

On receipt of the approved petition from USCIS, the National Visa Center  will create a case and enter pertinent beneficiary's and petitioner's information into the computer system. When requested, the applicant will have to complete online forms DS-261, Choice of Address and Agent, as well as DS-260, Online Immigrant Visa Application and Registration, and submit them to the Department of State via the Internet through the Consular Electronic Applications Center (CEAC). The petitioner will have to submit an Affidavit of Support, and visa processing fees.

What is a DS-261?

You may use the DS-261 form to choose an "agent" to assist you in your application and to receive mailings from the NVC. The "agent" may be the one who filed the immigrant visa petition, an attorney, friend or non-governmental or community-based organization. The "agent" cannot sign documents for the visa applicant, but can assist with fee payments and document collection.
If the DS-261 is not submitted within one year, the NVC will begin the termination process of the case.

Am I required to nominate an agent?

There is no requirement that you nominate an agent. The NVC may send all correspondence directly to you if you so wish. You should complete the relevant section of the DS-261 and submit the form to the NVC through CEAC.

When is a DS-261 not required?

A DS-261 is not required if:
• a G-28 is received from USCIS indicating that an attorney is the agent;
• the visa applicant filed the petition on his or her behalf;
• a child is being adopted.

What happens once the NVC has received the DS-261?

Upon receipt of the DS-261, the NVC will mail the "agent" or visa applicant instructions on the steps which must be taken to apply for the immigrant visa, including information on payment of the visa processing fee for each visa applicant (for visa fees check here). The fee is paid to the NVC which will provide the applicant with detailed information on method of payment. On payment of the fees, the NVC will send the agent or visa applicant the Instruction Package for Immigrant Visa Applicants, with a list of civil documents that are required for an immigrant visa. The Form I-864 Affidavit of Support is mailed to the petitioner.

Who completes the Affidavit of Support, Form I-864?

The petitioner is an American citizen or Lawful Permanent Resident who filed the immigrant visa petition on behalf of the visa applicant. The petitioner must complete an I-864, if filing a petition on behalf of a spouse, parent, child, or sibling, or if he or she filed an employment based petition or has a 5% or more ownership interest in the company which filed the petition. Further information is available from the Department of State's website. The I-864 will not be sent to the petitioner until the NVC has received the Affidavit of Support processing fee.

The petitioner should return the signed original I-864 to the NVC. The I-864 will be forwarded to the Embassy once NVC has completed the administrative processing of the application.

What is the next step?

Complete online (if you have not done it earlier) the biographic data form DS-260 for each person applying for a visa, regardless of age. The form is accessible through CEAC website at https://ceac.state.gov/IV. You can find more information on completing the online forms at website of the State Department.

To complete the DS-260 you will need to retrieve the NVC Invoice ID Number and each traveling applicant’s Beneficiary ID Number from the Notice to Applicant page of your appointment letter. Should your appointment letter not be available, your Invoice ID and Beneficiary ID Numbers may be retrieved by contacting the National Visa Center at NVCInquiry@state.gov.

Review the information concerning police certificates: All applicants 16 years and over are required to furnish a police certificate (certificate of good conduct) to cover any period of residence of twelve months or more since reaching the age of sixteen; the period of residence is six months in the country of birth or current residence.

Assemble all of the relevant civil documents required in support of the application and forward them to the NVC, as requested. All documents have to be translated into English by a competent translator. If you send copies of documents to the NVC, you will be required to furnish the originals on the day of the formal visa interview at the Embassy. You will also have to submit medical examination results for each person applying for the immigrant visa.

What happens next?

On receipt of all the required documents, the NVC will schedule your formal interview date at the Embassy in Warsaw, send you the appointment letter and forward your file to the Immigrant Visa Unit at this Embassy. Before you come for your visa interview, you should have the medical examination done by one of the Embassy panel physicians and you should register with the GSS system and select your visa pick-up location.

For detailed information on the immigrant visa interview please click here.

Updated: 02/03/2014

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