National Visa Center or NVC

The National Visa Center (NVC) ensures that all the family-based green card applications going through consular processing are documentarily qualified. It does not make decision on the application; the consular officer will.
The NVC is a unit of the Department of State, not USCIS.

Key Takeaways

  • Family applicants who go through Consular Processing will deal with the National Visa Center (NVC) after their form I-130 is approved by USCIS.
  • The NVC does not make decision, it simply makes sure that applicants are ‘interview-ready’.
  • The step is completed through an online portal, the Consular Electronic Application Center.

What are the NVC steps?

  1. Receiving the Welcome Letter
  2. Paying the fees
  3. Submitting the DS-260
  4. Uploading the Civil Documents
  5. Filing a scanned version of the Affidavit of Support (Form I-864, or I-864EZ)
  6. Uploading the Financial Documents
  7. Receive a ‘Case Complete’ notice
NVC Step
NVC Step details in Immigration Planner web app.

What are the differences between the I-130 and the NVC steps?

The CEAC uses the answers contained in the DS-260 to generate a list of required documents:

  • The I-130 was mostly about the sponsor, the NVC is almost exclusively about the applicant
  • The I-130 and supporting documents were paper-based, the NVC is about online forms and scanned documents
  • The I-130 was filed by USCIS (a unit of Homeland Security), the NVC is a unit of the State Department (which runs U.S. Embassies and Consulates)
  • USCIS was making a decision on the I-130, when the NVC is an administrative entity helping the Consular Officer make a decision at the time of the interview
  • The I-130 supporting documents, the ones establishing the family relationship between applicant and sponsor, will have to be filed again with the NVC

When do you know you are ready for the NVC?

You are ready for the CEAC when all the following has been done:

  • U.S. Payment Method: You have access to a U.S.-based means of payment that allows you to pay the Immigrant and Affidavit of Support fees.
  • DS-260 Preparation: You have reviewed the DS-260 questions so that you can answer questions in the order in which they are asked (the CEAC does not let you go forward to the next section if you have not completed the current sections).
  • Affidavit of Support: The financial sponsor has completed and signed the Affidavit of Support form.
  • Civil Documents: The ‘Civil Documents’ (which are the same documents submitted alongside Form I-130, plus police certificates), the supporting documents for the affidavit of support (such as tax transcript), and the signed Affidavit of Support form itself have all been scanned and comply with CEAC scanning rules.

When will I receive the Welcome Letter?

The arrival of the Welcome Letter depends on your Immigration Category.

  • Immediate Relatives are not slowed down by Annual Numerical Limits. Therefore, as soon as their I-130 is approved, USCIS transfers it to the NVC. The NVC enters the information in its system, and the Welcome Letter is sent. This generally takes about 3 weeks, and in any instance less than 8 weeks.
  • Applicants eligible under a family preference will generally receive their Welcome Letter before their Priority Date becomes ‘current’ when compared to the ‘Final Action Date’ of the Visa Bulletin (Chart A.). Typically 4 to 6 months before, but it depends on how ‘busy’ the NVC is (see our software for our latest Visa Bulletin Predictions, and NVC Welcome Letter estimates).

Note: The ‘Filing Date’ (Chart B.) of the Visa Bulletin does not matter for the NVC (it applies only to applicants who already reside in the United States, and who are going through Adjustment of Status).

What are the NVC CEAC Upload Rules?

  • Maximum size limit of any given document is not over 2MB
  • Translation documents should be included in one PDF file with the original document
  • If needed, file should be compressed in order to reduce the file size
  • When using a scanner to capture a digital image of a document, CEAC recommends to use a resolution of a 150 DPI.
    DPI means Dots per Inches and are usually one of the parameters of a scanner; the higher the DPI, the bigger the size of the resulting document.
  • No password protected documents

How do I get in touch with the NVC?

The easiest way to get in touch with the NVC is to use their online AskNVC form.

Frequently Asked Questions about the NVC

Use AskNVC to make the change.

Once you receive the Welcome Letter and can login into the CEAC, you can add ‘derivative applicants’ if your immigration category allows it.

Try again. For some reason the CEAC fee payment process is often down.

One of the ways to find the routing number of a U.S.-based checking account is to look at the bottom of a check associated with that account:

  • The routing number is a 9-digit number which begins with a 0, 1, 2, or 3 and is bracketed by a symbol that looks like
  • So, the routing number looks something like ⑆123456789⑆
  • The account number is usually a string of numbers (around 10) followed by a special character that looks like
  • So the account number looks something like 1234567890⑈

If you cannot determine the routing or account numbers, review a bank statement or contact your financial institution.

You need to have a ‘current’ Priority Date, or be an immediate relative. The NVC cannot and will not rush Interview scheduling if a Green Card is not available for you.

Generally, NVC Expedite is reserved for ‘life or death’ situation. People also look into Humanitarian Parole in these situations.

No, you need to make electronic copies of your document and upload them in the CEAC. You do however want to bring the originals of some key documents to the Interview.

Your file upload size limit is 2MB.

Yes, you do. You may consider asking for them ahead of the beginning of the NVC step, so that you are ready.

See the detailed instructions for your country

The NVC is not running CSPA computations for your applicants, or derivative applicants. It is up to you to make sure that:

  • You are not paying fees associated with derivative applicants that are no longer eligible.
    For instance derivative applicants who are the children of the principal applicant, and who ‘aged out’ in spite of CSPA.
  • You are ready to make your own CSPA case.
    Remember that the CSPA calculation has to be made the 1st of the month of the Visa Bulletin when the Priority Date of the applicant becomes ‘current’ when compared to the Final Action Date (Chart A.)


We did the research so you don’t have to.

How to file perfect USCIS forms for your family-based Green Card.

What you need to know about NVC form DS-260 before and after you file.

6 important steps to complete, latest news and updates, and FAQ.

Latest predictions for All Countries, Mexico, Philippines and India F4.

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