Please read through everything before posting questions as it's very likely that your question can be answered by reading through the links and FAQ.
Some helpful information:
Here's some guides for those in NVC:
-How Do I Bring My Spouse to Live in the United States
-LingChe NVC Shortcut
-NVC for Montreal Beneficiaries - Electronic Processing and New Online Forms
-NVC Electronic Processing [note: if doing EP in China, only optin AFTER the invoicing of the AOS bill]
And some other useful links:
-DS-3032 Email Template
-Country-Specific Documents (choose beneficiary's country from drop-down)
-Eligibility for Electronic Processing and Online Forms (table at bottom)
-Online Forms Portal (site to fill out DS-261 and DS-260 for those eligible)
-NVC processing times spreadsheet (created by me, Saylin)
-Flowchart for IR-1/CR-1 Visa Applicants (created by me, Saylin)
NVC - 603-334-0700 (press 1 then 5 to speak with an operator) [HOURS: 7am - 12am EST, M-F, AVR hours: 24/7]
DOS - 202-663-1225 (press 1 then 0 to speak with a visa specialist) [HOURS: 8:30am - 5pm EST, M-F. Closed 11am-12pm on Wednesday's]
NVCInquiry@state.gov - to email DS-3032, expedite requests, and/or questions
NVCElectronic@state.gov - to email optin for EP and for scanned packages
Upon suggestion of a VJ member (thanks foobaz123), I have decided to create a FAQ of the most common questions I see here on VJ concerning the NVC process. If you know of a common question that isn't mentioned here, please inform me through a reply in this thread or PM me. I'd be more than happy to include it here.
FAQHow long does it take to get a case number assigned after NOA2?
As of recently, it's been taking 4+ weeks. Check my spreadsheet (linked in post 1) to see where NVC is currently assigning case numbers.
When (and how often) should I start calling NVC about the case number?
Wait at least a week from your NOA2 date, then start calling. And call every single day afterwards until you get it.
Will I receive XXXX (initial information package, invoices, instructions, interview letter, etc) by email or snail mail?
As long as you give over the email addresses of both the petitioner and beneficiary (once you have a case number), ALL correspondence from NVC will be sent through email.
What do I do after my case number is assigned?
Get the IIN from an operator (ask for the 'Invoice Identification Number', not IIN). Give over the email addresses of the beneficiary and petitioner. Email the DS-3032 (from the beneficiary's email address) following the template linked above.
When can I email the DS-3032?
Right after you get your case number. There's a chance it could get rejected (because they got to your email before they're ready to take documents), but if that's the case, just re-send it. On the flip side, there's also a chance it could get accepted and you wouldn't have wasted any time.
Note: if you have a lawyer, they're already designated as agent due to the G-28 included in the I-130 package, so no need to send the DS-3032, unless you fire your lawyer.
Note: if doing online forms (check link above for eligibility), then fill out the DS-261 found online at the above link. Do NOT send the DS-3032.
I got an email from NVC that contains a bar-coded DS-3032 (along with other information). Do I re-send the DS-3032?
NO. Do NOT email another DS-3032. NVC automatically generates these emails and do not care if you've already sent in a DS-3032 or not; they include a DS-3032 anyways. Only if NVC responds to your first DS-3032 with a rejection do you send another one.
After the case number is assigned, how long does it take for the AOS bill to be invoiced?
Usually just a few days.
How much are the two bills? And how do I pay them?
The AOS costs $88 (per case) and the IV is $230 (per person). They have to be paid with a US banking account on the payment portal (site linked in first post). See information here: http://travel.state..../info_3906.html If you can't or don't want to pay online, here's a link to how to pay through the mail: http://travel.state..../info_3905.html .
Help! I can't sign into the payment portal. Why?
If you're getting an error message ("Please be advised that the case that you have attempted to access is not eligible for further processing by the National Visa Center at this time…" or "This case is in the process of termination. Fee payments and online forms can no longer be accepted…" or "You cannot make online payments for your case at this time. Please contact the NVC if you have questions or need further information."), do NOT panic. This is actually good news! If you just got your case number, then this message means NVC is inputting your case in their system. If you get this message a few days after case number generation, then it's a good possibility that NVC is invoicing your AOS bill. And if this message appears a few days after DS-3032 acceptance, then there's a good chance the IV bill is being invoiced. And finally, if this message is appearing a few days or more after NVC received your packages, this is a good indication of case complete at NVC!
What is needed in the AOS package?
Generally, the following is needed:
With no joint sponsors:
- Bar-coded cover sheet from payment portal
- Cover letter (optional)
- Completed, signed, and dated I-864 form by petitioner
- Tax information* of petitioner (either just the last year OR the last 3 years)
- Employment letter of petitioner (optional, but good proof of CURRENT income)
- Pay stub(s) of petitioner (optional, but good proof of CURRENT income)
With joint sponsors:
- All of the above of the petitioner
- Completed, signed, and dated I-864 of joint sponsor
- Tax information* of joint sponsor (either just the last year OR the last 3 years)
- Proof of US citizenship/residency of joint sponsor (ex: copy of US passport, US birth certificate, US naturalization certificate, or front & back of green card)
- Employment letter of joint sponsor (optional, but good proof of CURRENT income)
- Pay stub(s) of joint sponsor (optional, but good proof of CURRENT income)
If the joint sponsor is a household/family member, also include proof of that relationship (example: if a parent is a joint sponsor, include the petitioner's birth certificate with parents' name on it to show link).
*You have two choices here of what to send in:
- Tax return transcripts ordered from IRS (preferred by NVC and of most consulates/embassies) RECOMMENDED
- Tax returns (1040) and W2s and any other schedules (if applicable)
What if I (the petitioner) live with my spouse in their foreign country? Do I need to include anything in either package?
You'll need to provide proof of US domicile with the AOS package, as well as bring it with you to the interview. Please read the I-864 instructions (pages 5 and 6) for information about it. This is NOT needed if the petitioner is living in the US. Here is a sample cover letter to include in the package (it lists MANY possible documents, some may not be applicable of course, to prove that you have, or will re-establish, domicile in the US):
SOCIAL SECURITY NUMBER
No. 15 Country of Domicile
I, XXXX, am currently residing in FOREIGN COUNTRY with my spouse, SPOUSE'S NAME. Below you will find a list of attached documents to show that my principle residence is in the US and the steps that I have taken to return to the US with my family.
Steps I have taken to maintain US Domicile:
• Maintained my XXXX voter registration
• Maintained my XXXX credit card registered in the US with a US PO box
• Maintained my bank account at the XXXX Credit Union
• Maintained my bank account at XXXX Bank
• Maintained my XXXX drivers license
• Maintained my US retirement fund through XXXX
• Maintained my US investment account with XXXX
• Maintained my US PO box
• Maintained licensure by the XXXX
• Maintained membership in the XXXX
• Maintained my automobile in care of my parents
Supporting Documents for the above steps I have taken:
• Voter registration card showing permanent US address
• XXXX credit card statement showing US billing address
• XXXX Credit Union statement showing permanent US address
• XXXX Bank statement showing permanent US address
• XXXX drivers license showing permanent US address
• Retirement fund statement showing permanent US address
• Mutual fund statement showing permanent US address
• XXXX license currently up to date
• Renewal of XXXX membership
• County tax bill showing I still own a vehicle
Steps I have taken to return to the US to take up residence:
• Made arrangements for us to have a house to live in
• Contacted schools for requirements of things to bring to register my children in school
• Contacted my auto insurance company to find out about re-instating my insurance on my car
• Contacted shipping company for estimate of costs to ship belongings
Supporting documents for the above steps I have taken:
• Lease agreement for our house
• Email from schools regarding registration requirements
• Email from my former auto insurance company regarding my inquiry
• Email from XXXX with estimate and correspondence regarding shipping our belongings
I declare that I intend in good faith to re-establish my domicile in the United States no later than the date of spouse's admission into the US.
I certify under penalty of perjury under the laws of the United States that the statements in this letter and all accompanying evidence are true and correct.
Signature: ____________________________________________________ Date: ______________________
Thanks to VJ member lemayz for this suggestion!
I sent the AOS package but got a checklist for the IV package (which I either have sent or not sent yet) [or vice versa]. What's going on?
If you sent the packages separately, then get a checklist for the other one, just ignore it; it's a false checklist. The same applies if you sent just one of the packages and get a checklist for the other. Please understand that as soon as NVC reviews a package, they very frequently generate a checklist for the other package, without even checking if they have it in the building first. If you do get a checklist for one of the packages, you do NOT have to use that bar-coded cover sheet; you can still use the one from the payment portal.
The only time a checklist is real (and not false) is if it asks for something very specific missing in a package (like a police certificate, for example). If it asks for something general, like the entire package, then you can assume it's false. Call up an operator at NVC to confirm.
Thanks to VJ member sulhaq for this suggestion!
When does the IV bill get invoiced?
After you send the DS-3032, NVC will most likely respond in a week or so with an acceptance email (or rejection). A few days after acceptance, the IV bill will be invoiced.
What is needed in the IV package?
Generally, the following is needed:
- Bar-coded cover sheet from payment portal
- Completed, signed, and dated DS-230 form by beneficiary (do NOT sign or date part 2; this is done at the interview) [note: if doing online forms (DS-260), the DS-230 is obviously not needed]
- Two passport-style photographs (2" x 2") of beneficiary (on the back, write: beneficiary's full name, date of birth, and case number)
- Copy of bio-data page of beneficiary's unexpired passport
- Original or Certified Copy of beneficiary's birth certificate, PLUS A PHOTOCOPY
- Original or Certified Copy of marriage certificate, PLUS A PHOTOCOPY
- Original police certificate(s)
Please read: http://travel.state..../info_3195.html for additional documents if applicable.
Also read the country-specific documents linked in the first post. There may be additional documents needed not listed above.
If my documents are not in English, do they need to be translated?
NVC's website states:
"All documents not written in English, or in the official language of the country in which application for a visa is being made, must be accompanied by certified translations and submitted to the NVC. The translation must include a statement signed by the translator stating that the:
-Translation is accurate, and
-Translator is competent to translate."
Despite this, I have seen cases of people getting checklists for not having translations of non-English documents. I'd suggest you get everything translated anyways to be on the safe side. It's not needed, but highly recommended.
How long does it take for a bill to appear as PAID in the payment portal after paying it?
Usually just a day or two.
Do I have to wait for NVC to email me instructions before mailing packages?
NO. If you wait on NVC for this, it can take WEEKS to get anything from them. As long as the respective bill appears as PAID in the payment portal, you can send in your package.
What address do I send the AOS and IV packages?
You will find their addresses on their respective bar-coded cover sheets, which are printed off the payment portal.
Can the packages be sent from abroad or does it have to be from within the US?
Doesn't matter where the package is sent from; NVC just needs to receive it.
Do the packages have to be sent separately or can they be sent together?
Either one or the other works. Again, as long as NVC receives both needed packages, they don't really care. Each way has their pros and cons.
After sending in the packages, how long does it take to get a case complete?
Lately, it's been taking just a few days to a week after the last package is received.
Do I get an email if my packages have been accepted?
No, not that I have seen. You have to call NVC every day and ask for updates on your case to find out if a package has been reviewed and accepted.
Do I get an email when my case is completed?
Generally, no. Only those doing EP (electronic processing) get the case complete emails. There are some non-EP folk that get case complete emails, but it's rare. Again, to find out if your case is complete, call an operator at NVC and ask.
After the case is completed, what happens?
In most cases: the case is put in a queue to get an interview date scheduled. Once an interview date is scheduled, the case is shipped out to the consulate/embassy.
Who should I be calling to find out my interview date?
You should be calling both NVC and DOS. Both have access to your case information. Their numbers are linked above.
How long does it take to get an interview date after a case complete?
This varies by country and consulate/embassy. Some people find out within a day or two, others a few weeks, then the few unfortunate that wait a few months (ex: Ghana). To get the best estimate for YOUR country is to search, using the timeline feature, when others got case completes and when they got their interview dates scheduled.
When do interview dates get scheduled?
If you talk to operators at NVC, they'll always tell you they ONLY schedule during the second week of each month. This is a LIE. They schedule interviews ALL month long. Many people (like myself) have gotten scheduled during the last week of the month. I repeat, they schedule ALL month long.
How long does it take for NVC to mail my case out after getting an interview date scheduled?
Usually it's the next day, but it can take up to a week or more in rare cases.
Please note: the above time frames are just estimates. Do NOT freak out if your case takes a little bit longer. The time frames are constantly changing. They also depend on NVC's work load for that day/week.
Summary of NVC process:
- get case number and IIN, give email addresses over
- email the DS-3032
- pay the AOS bill, once it's invoiced
- once the bill appears as PAID, mail the AOS package
- pay the IV bill, once it's invoiced
- once the bill appears as PAID, mail the IV package
- respond to any checklists, if applicable
- get case complete
- get interview date scheduled