The National Visa Center (NVC) in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, is the U.S. Department of State's (DOS) centralized processing center for all immigrant visa (IV) applications, and is part of DOS's Bureau of Consular Affairs. It was established in 1994 to relieve the administrative burden on consulates and embassies around the world. Given the important administrative role the NVC has with respect to immigrant visa application processing for consulates and embassies, it is important to know how to communicate with the NVC to resolve problems with respect to IV case processing. This writing will provide general information regarding NVC case processing, and how to communicate and resolve certain problems with the NVC that may arise.

The U.S. Department of State (DOS) reported that the NVC processed 321,274 cases in FY2020 and processed 342,392 cases in FY2021. The NVC performs, on average, about 18,000 case creations and reviews forms and documentation for 87,000 cases per month. DOS reports there are 411,359 IV visa applicants whose cases are documentarily complete at NVC and ready for interview as of November 30, 2022, and there were approximately 33,406 IV applicants scheduled for December 2022 interview appointments. DOS is exploring new ways to use technology to process cases but has indicated that it does not see any utility in virtual interviews as part of the immigrant visa application process.

Once NVC receives information from USCIS that an immigrant visa petition has been approved, it will create a case in its system and will send instructions to the foreign national with respect to case process. Processing times at the NVC have improved over the last few months. As of March 6, 2023, the NVC is processing cases received from USCIS on February 14, 2023. In addition, with respect to document review, as of March 6, 2023, NVC is indicating that it is currently completing the review of documents submitted to NVC on February 16, 2023. As a result, NVC is taking about two weeks to either create a case or review documentation submitted by a foreign national. This two-week turn-around time is considerably faster than the NVC's processing time a year ago. Moreover, as of March 6, 2023, NVC is indicating that it is responding to inquires submitted through its on-line Public Inquiry Form on February 27, 2023, which is less than a 10-day period. For more information about NVC's current processing times, please see the following web address:

There are problems that may occur during the immigrant visa application process. Here is a list of some of the problems that have been reported, and recommendations for resolving these problems:

Problem #1: When completing the On-Line Immigrant Visa Application (Form DS-260), the Consular Electronic Application Center's (CEAC) CEAC system times out every 20 minutes.

Solution: Make sure to save your work as you prepare the form.

Problem #2: A foreign national's immigrant visa registration will be terminated if the foreign national has no contact and/or does not take any action required with respect to her or his immigrant visa application after a one-year period.

Solution: DOS has indicated a foreign national may show contact by doing any one of the following: 1) pay visa application fee, 2) submit a document on the CEAC system, 3) submit an NVC Public Inquiry form, 4) Log into the CEAC account, and 5) complete the DS 260 application. DOS may reinstate if the foreign national can show circumstances beyond her or his control or another good reason. Make sure spam filter recognizes NVC e-mail. (Note: DOS reported that 52% of cases that are planned for termination are reinstated.

Problem #3: Foreign national paid the immigrant visa application fees, but the foreign national's CEAC account does not reflect paid.

Solution: NVC recommends the foreign national wait at least seven (7) days to see if system reflects the immigrant visa application fee has been paid.

Problem #5: NVC issues communication requesting documents that the foreign national is not required to provide.

Solution: The foreign national should upload an explanation as to why the document requested is not required.

Problem #6: Foreign national is unable to delete a derivative family member not recorded in CEAC account after deletion.

Solution: The foreign national should set the derivative family member to "follow-to-join." He or she should not pay the fee immigrant visa application fee.

Problem #7: The Form DS-260 application was completed when visa was available, but then the foreign national's priority date retrogressed. However, the foreign national's priority date subsequently advances and becomes current, but the Form DS-260 is not available in the CEAC system or the foreign national is unable to make changes to the Form DS-260.

Solution: The foreign national should submit an NVC Public Inquiry Form to request DS-260 be reset by NVC. (Note: If the immigrant visa case is pending with the U.S. embassy or consulate, the foreign national may e-mail the embassy or consulate to request access to the DS-260 to make changes. In some cases, the embassy or consulate will do this automatically after the interview has been rescheduled.)

When problems arise during the immigrant visa application process, it can be difficult to communicate with the NVC, since the center no longer allows foreign nationals to speak to a representative by phone. However, there are several alternate ways to communicate with the NVC:

  • Public Inquiry Form: The NVC has indicated its online Public Inquiry Form is best way to communicate with the center. Here is the link: The NVC has indicated that if a foreign national does not receive a response within thirty days after submitting the completed electronic Public Inquiry Form, the foreign national may submit a second Public Inquiry Form and put "ATTN: PI Supervisor" in order to escalate the matter.
  • Congressional Assistance: A foreign national may contact a U.S. Senator or U.S. House of Representatives member in his or her district to inquire about the status of her or his application. The foreign national will need to complete a Privacy Release Form and describe the issue involving the NVC.
  • If a foreign national does not receive a Welcome Notice e-mail message from NVC after sixty days have passed since the USCIS's approval of the immigrant visa petition, a foreign national may e-mail and include a copy of the immigrant visa application approval notice with the e-mail communication.
  • Confirmation of Payment in CEAC System: If a foreign national pays the immigrant visa application fee, and the CEAC system does not show "Paid" in the foreign national's account, NVC has instructed that the foreign national should use the NVC's on-line Public Inquiry Form to bring of the issue to NVC's attention and to insert "ATTN: PI Supervisor" in the "Enter Your Inquiry Below" field. The foreign national should also attach the Pay.Gov payment receipt.
  • Unclear NVC Request: If it is unclear what is being requested in the CEAC system or in an e-mail message from the NVC with respect to insufficient documentation, NVC advises that the foreign national may use the NVC's on-line Public Inquiry Form and should provide an overview of the matter in the "Enter Your Inquiry Below" field.
  • If a foreign national needs to expedite an immigration visa application at NVC, the foreign national should e-mail If there is no response by the NVC in thirty days, the NVC recommends another e-mail be sent to this e-mail address.

The above writing describes only some of the problems that may arise during immigrant visa application processing at the NVC. Other problems may require more in-depth analysis or follow-up with the NVC. If you need assistance with respect to an immigrant visa application, please contact Fakhoury Global Immigration U.S.A. P.C. at the following address:

Matthew Morse is a Partner with Fakhoury Global Immigration in Troy, Michigan. The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about specific circumstances. Comments to the author can be sent to

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.