What is the National Visa Center (NVC)?

Last update: February 21, 2018

Which green card applicants come in contact with the National Visa Center (NVC)?

Most applicants for a family green card who live outside the United States will interact with the NVC, whether they apply under an immediate relative or a family preference classification. The NVC step is part of two green card processes:

  • Consular processing for immediate relatives
  • Consular processing for preference applicants (F1, F2A, …)

Which part of the green card process does the NVC supervise?

The approved I-130 of a family green card applicant living outside the United States is transferred by USCIS to the NVC. It represents a transfer between USCIS, a unit of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), and the NVC, a unit of the Department of State. The transfer partly explains why applicants and sponsors feel that they have to submit to the NVC a lot of the information they submitted to USCIS: they essentially start over with a brand new entity.
The NVC’s mission is to make sure that the applicant’s request (primarily form DS-260 and associated evidence) as well as the sponsor’s support (form I-864, affidavit of support, and associated evidence), are 100% complete. The NVC is not making a decision on the green card application. The NVC is making sure that the applicant and the sponsor have submitted all the information that is required by the consular officer to make a decision.


When and how does the NVC step start?

The beginning of the step is up to the NVC. The NVC sends what they call a ‘Welcome Letter’ to applicants. The letter contains information allowing the applicant to chose an ‘agent’ and pay U.S. government fees. The payment of the fees has to be processed by the NVC before form DS-260 can be ‘unlocked’, completed, and submitted.
When exactly applicants receive their welcome letters depend on their classification:

  • Immediate relatives receive the welcome letter when the NVC has processed the transfer of the approved I-130
  • Preference applicants receive the welcome letter when the NVC believes that the applicant’s priority date will soon become ‘current’

When does the NVC step end?

The NVC step ends when the NVC considers that all information required by the consular officer to make a decision on the green card application has been gathered. In the words of U.S. immigration agencies, this is known as ‘case complete’ or as an application being ‘documentarily qualified’.


How do I get in touch with the NVC?

‘Ask NVC’ is the easiest way to get in touch with the NVC. It offers an online form containing the following standard reasons for getting in touch with the NVC:

  • What is the status of my case?
  • How can I change my address?
  • How can I change the Principal Applicant name or date of birth?
  • How do I add a child/spouse to my petition?
  • Add or remove an agent/attorney
  • I can’t login to pay my fees. What can I do?
  • Petitioner/Principal Applicant death certificate
  • Principal Applicant wishes to / does not wish to adjust status
  • How can I request to have my interview scheduled at a different U.S. embassy overseas?
  • How do I file an I-601A waiver?
  • How can expedite the processing of my case?
  • Can all my cases be scheduled to interview together at the U.S. Embassy overseas?
  • Can you transfer my fees from one case to the other?
  • Can we process electronically?
  • Where do I send my forms/documents?
  • Questions pertaining to forms/documents.
  • My case has entered Termination. What can I do?
  • Change in status (petitioner naturalized; applicant has married/divorced, etc.)
  • My interview has been scheduled, but I have some questions. What do I do?
  • I would like to withdraw this application.
  • I would like to change the priority date of this petition.
  • Complaints/Compliments regarding NVC staff or processing.
  • Request for return of original documents.
  • Reports of fraud.
  • Child Status Protection Act questions.
  • Invoice ID or Beneficiary ID.
  • Opt-out request: I want to stay in the F2B visa category rather than change to F1.

The NVC The ‘Ask NVC!’ online form can be found here.


Can I call the NVC?

Yes, you can:

  • The number is +1 603 334 0700
  • Hours of operation are: from 7.30 am to midnight (U.S. Eastern Time that is the time in New York City)
  • Information to have ready for verification by the operator
    • Applicant’s full name, date and place of birth
    • Sponsor’s full name, date and place of birth
    • NVC’s case number
    • USCIS receipt number

    Can I pay NVC fees by check?

    Yes, you can. A cashier’s check or a money order will be needed (no personal checks).

    • Make it payable to: “U.S. Department of State”.
    • Pay the exact amount listed on the fee invoice.
    • Write your NVC case number on the memo line.
    • Mail the payment as well as the invoice to:
      NVC Fee Processing Center
      P.O. Box 790136
      St. Louis, MO 63179-0136