NVC for Montreal Beneficiaries – Electronic Processing and New Online Forms

From US Immigration Wiki - VisaJourney
Jump to: navigation, search

Created by VJ Member Saylin and posted on March 11, 2011.

Latest update on June 30th, 2014 (re-formatted/sectioned the wiki so it's easier to read, removed section on enrolling as it appears it is no longer necessary).

This wiki will explain how to go through NVC by doing electronic processing (EP), as well as the online forms, and is suited for those going through the Montreal consulate applying for an IR-1/CR-1 visa. This wiki can also be used by others in different countries eligible for EP, but may be slightly different due to different country requirements.


Background Information

Online Forms

As of September 1st, 2013, most visa applicants going through the Montreal consulate (as well as all other consulates/embassies) are now REQUIRED to use the new online forms. Any visa category that had to send in a DS-230 (Application for Immigrant Visa and Alien Registration) previously now has to send in the new online form DS-260. The previous form DS-3032 (Choice of Agent) is also available online now as DS-261. The only form that remains not online is the I-864 (Affidavit of Support).


Electronic Processing

Electronic Processing (sending packages by email instead of snail mail), as of today, is still optional for Canadians according to NVC’s page here [1]. You can read more information about EP at that link.

  • Note: If you are not eligible for EP, please read my non-EP NVC wiki here [2]

Overview of NVC

-Get NVC case number and IIN

-Give email addresses to operator

-Pay the AOS fee

-Fill out and submit the DS-261 online

-Once AOS shows as PAID, email AOS package

-Pay the IV fee

-Once IV shows as PAID, email IV package

-Fill out and submit the DS-260 online

-Respond to any checklists, if necessary

-Wait for case complete

-Get interview date assigned


If you would like to see the NVC process visually, you can check out the flowchart I made here [3]

Step 1 - Preparation

You should prepare as many documents as possible before getting your case number, so you can fly right through NVC. Having everything prepared ahead of time and being proactive can save you weeks at NVC.


AOS Package - Petitioner

1. Getting the I-864 [4] filled out before you get a case number is a great idea. Once you get closer to being able to send it in, go over the form again and update anything that needs to be. Make sure the income listed for the previous years is exactly the same as on the tax transcripts. Do not round up at all. People have gotten checklists for rounding up or being off even by a dollar.

  • Please note: there’s a shorter I-864 form called the I-864EZ [5]. Check out the three conditions you must meet here [6] (second box). If you meet the criteria, I suggest using that form as it's much easier to fill out. But keep in mind, even if you do qualify, it doesn't mean you have to use the I-864EZ. You can still use the I-864 if you wish.

2. Get all your tax information prepared ahead of time. Get your tax return transcripts from the IRS instantly online here [7]. These are much preferred over the tax returns + W2s as they're more concise (typically just a few pages long), plus they're actually proof you filed at the IRS.

3. Although not necessarily required, an employment letter is often highly suggested on the forums and is a great way to show current income. An example form can be found here [8]. You can have this typed up and ready to be printed out and signed/dated once you get your case number.

4. Again, this is not necessarily required, but pay stubs are another great way to show current income. Start keeping your pay stubs in a safe place. Technically, only one is needed if your pay stubs have a YTD (year-to-date) amount, but you can send in any amount you wish. Most people send in either one to six months worth.

5. Prepare a cover letter explaining what is included in the package. This isn’t required, but is a great way to present to the officer what is included in the package and in what order. An example can be found here [9] and I uploaded my own cover letter, found here [10]. Again, you can have this all typed up and ready to be printed out and signed/dated once you get your case number. It would be a good idea to also mention in this letter the following (if you're doing EP): "Scanned copies of documents submitted are exact copies of unaltered documents and I understand that I will be required to submit original documents to an Immigration or Consular officer at a later date."

Don’t forget, if you need a joint sponsor, you’ll also need their I-864 or I-864A, along with their tax information, proof of their US citizenship/residency, along with the optional employment letter and pay stubs.


DS-260 and IV Package - Beneficiary

1. If you want, pre-fill out the DS-230 [11], so you have the information and answers handy when you fill out the DS-260 online later on. It’s also a good idea to check out the screenshots of the DS-260 (found here [12] and here [13]) as there is some extra information that isn’t asked for on the DS-230. Notably, the DS-260 asks for exact dates for addresses, employment, education, etc. On the DS-230, it only asks for month and year. Make sure you have all the information before hand to save time.

  • Note: on the DS-230, for previous addresses, it asks only those that were longer than 6 months since the age of 16. On the DS-260 though, it asks for ALL addresses, no matter the length, since the age of 16.
  • Another note: one bonus of the DS-260 is that it only asks for the last FIVE visits to the US (instead of all of them as it was on the DS-230).

2. Around the time you should be getting your case number, get two passport-style pictures taken of the beneficiary. Remember they have to be 2” x 2”. Alternatively, instead of spending money and getting them done at a professional place, you can do them yourself (photograph requirements here [14]) and then have it cropped on this site here [15] (Make sure you select United States from the drop down menu). You can then either print it yourself if you have the special photo paper or you can get it printed for cheap at pharmacies or department stores. Remember to write the full name, date of birth, and NVC case number (once it gets assigned) on the back. I did the photographs myself and cropped them on the above site. They were accepted at NVC, the medical, and at the interview without any problems.

3. A photocopy of the beneficiary’s passport bio-data page is required, so make sure a valid passport is ready. This document can be scanned immediately as long as it’s valid and won’t be expiring soon.

4. An original or certified copy of the beneficiary’s birth certificate is also required and should be in possession. If you don’t have one, get it now. This can be scanned right away.

5. An original or certified copy of the marriage certificate is another requirement. Again, if you don’t have one in possession, get it now. Again, this can be scanned right away.

6. Around the time you should be getting your case number, it’s also a good idea to get the police certificate done. Requirements for the Canadian PCC can be found here [16] (scroll down a bit until you get to ‘Police Records’). If you’re in the Montreal area, I got mine done here [17] and it arrived a week and a half later. You can see what it looks like here (although yours may vary) [18] Remember, PCCs are good for up to one year at the Montreal consulate.

  • If you have lived in another country, don’t forget you’ll need a police certificate from them as well. Check here [19] to read more about police certificates (scroll down and click on 'Police Certificates').

7. And lastly, a cover letter detailing what’s included in the package should be included (although, like the I-864, it’s not mandatory, but it is a good idea). An example can be found here [20] and I uploaded mine which you can find here [21]. Remember though that you won’t be submitting the DS-230 form, so make sure that’s not listed. And put the subject as ‘Supporting Documents for the DS-260’ or something similar. Again, it’d be good to include in the letter (if you're doing EP): "Scanned copies of documents submitted are exact copies of unaltered documents and I understand that I will be required to submit original documents to an Immigration or Consular officer at a later date."

  • Remember, there may be other requirements for you if your case is different. If you were previously in the USA on a J1 visa for example, you need to show proof that you fulfilled the residency requirement. Another example would be if you're only a permanent resident of Canada, you need to send in proof of your legal residence. Other things might also be necessary. That was just two examples. Please check NVC's website for more information and/or call them to inquire.

Step 2 - Case Number

After your petition is approved at USCIS, you’ll still have about a month (currently) before your case gets assigned a number.

After a week from receiving your NOA2, I’d suggest to start calling the operator at NVC (603-334-0700). Prepare for it to take a while to get through to an operator depending on what time you call at. It can be anywhere from getting through instantly to waiting 30 minutes or more. Make sure you have on hand (or memorized) your CIS receipt number. They’ll ask for this immediately; you don’t have to tell them what you want at first. If they tell you to wait another week or a few days before calling, do not listen to them. Call them the next day. When I first called an operator, he told me that I should wait till next week. I called less than 24 hours later and I had a case number assigned.

Once your case number is assigned (and you get the number), give the operator the email addresses of the petitioner and beneficiary. Once they have your email addresses, ask for your Invoice Identification Number (8 digits, you need this number to sign in to the payment portal). If the operator isn’t willing to give you the IIN, hang up and call again. Some operators throw a fuss about giving this number out, while others will immediately give them to you without any questions.

Step 3 - Payment Portal

Once you have your NVC case number and IIN, you can sign onto the payment portal found here [22]. If you are the petitioner, choose the ‘Petitioner’ in the drop down menu. If you are the beneficiary, choose ‘Principal Applicant’.

  • Note: it doesn’t really matter if you choose ‘petitioner’ or ‘principal applicant’. They’re both the same when you log in and it doesn’t change throughout the process (as far as I’ve seen).

After signing in, you’ll see two fees listed: the Affidavit of Support and IV Application (screenshot here [23]). They’ll most likely appear as NOT INVOICED. Check regularly to see when they update to INVOICED. Once they appear, pay them as soon as you can. While the bill is pending, it will appear as IN PROCESS (screenshot of the IV bill in process here [24]).

Bills usually appear as PAID within 1-3 business days. Any longer and it would be a good idea to talk to an operator.

The information that is asked when paying the bills: first name, middle initial, last name, routing number, account number, check type (personal or business), and account type (checking, savings). Make sure you have this information handy, so when the bills appear you don’t waste any time.

Keep in mind, the AOS bill will be invoiced automatically. The IV bill though is dependent upon NVC receiving and adding your DS-261 to the case file.

  • Note: if you have a lawyer/legal representation attached to your case, then the DS-261 is skipped, so the IV bill will be invoiced at the same time as the AOS bill.

Step 4 - DS-261

Besides the payment portal, there’s another portal you need to be signing into, found here [25] (screenshot here [26]). That’s where you’ll find the DS-261 and DS-260 once they become available.

Once the DS-261 becomes available for you (should be just a few days), fill it out and submit it. This form is practically identical to the DS-3032. If you want to see screenshots of this form, you can check it out here [27].

  • Note: the DS-261 may look slightly different now (those screenshots are from 2011. Notably, the BIN (beneficiary ID number) is no longer required.

It's currently taking around a month from completing the DS-261 to the IV bill being invoiced. So, keep an eye out on the payment portal for when the IV bill is invoiced. Once it is, pay it!

Step 5 - AOS Package

Once you pay the AOS fee, you should start scanning in all documents. Please read the Scanning section below on specifics.

Once the AOS fee appears as PAID, you can send the AOS package.


Email to: NVCElectronic@state.gov


Subject line: MTLXXXXXXXXXX – Affidavit of Support I-864 Documents

  • Insert your case number instead of the X’s.


Body of the email:

Petitioner’s full name: First name, middle name, last name

Petitioner’s date of birth: Month, date, year

Petitioner’s email address: [insert email address]


Beneficiary’s full name: First name, middle name, last name

Beneficiary’s date of birth: Month, date, year

Beneficiary’s email address: [insert email address]


Extra:

This isn’t necessary, but I added this at the end of the email:

Please find attached the Affidavit of Support I-864 Documents for case number MTLXXXXXXXXXX.

Scanned copies of documents submitted are exact copies of unaltered documents and I understand that I will be required to submit original documents to an Immigration or Consular officer at a later date.


Don’t forget to write the case number at the top right of every single page you are submitting. If you’re not comfortable writing the case number on some documents, you can always use sticky notes and then scan them or because you’re sending them electronically, you can digitally add a case number after scanning the documents in (how to do this will be explained later in the wiki, in the Scanning section).

Step 6 - DS-260 and IV Package

Once you pay the IV bill, it'd be a good idea to scan everything in for the IV package so it's ready to go. Again, read the specifics on this in the Scanning section below.

Once the IV fee appears as PAID, it’s time to send the IV package and fill out the DS-260 form. Doesn't matter which you do first. Although, since the IV package will take about a minute of your time to email, you should do that first.


IV Package


Email to: NVCElectronic@state.gov


Subject line: MTLXXXXXXXXXX – Supporting Documents for the DS-260

  • Insert your case number instead of the X’s.


Body of the email:

Petitioner’s full name: First name, middle name, last name

Petitioner’s date of birth: Month, date, year

Petitioner’s email address: [insert email address]


Beneficiary’s full name: First name, middle name, last name

Beneficiary’s date of birth: Month, date, year

Beneficiary’s email address: [insert email address]


Extra:

This isn’t necessary, but I added this at the end of the email:

Please find attached the supporting documents for the DS-260. I, BENEFICIARY’S NAME, submitted the online DS-260 on DATE.

Scanned copies of documents submitted are exact copies of unaltered documents and I understand that I will be required to submit original documents to an Immigration or Consular officer at a later date.


As mentioned in the AOS section, don’t forget to add your case number to the top right of every document. Again, I explain how to do this digitally in the Scanning section below.


DS-260


Go to the same place as where you filled out the DS-261 and at the bottom you’ll see the DS-260. Start filling it out and then submit it when done. There’s a confirmation page at the end, similar to the DS-261. Print the confirmation page out and bring it with you to the interview.

Step 7 - Review: Checklists and Case Complete

Checklists

If you find out from an operator that you have gotten a checklist, if at all possible, ask the operator exactly what is being requested. If you find out what is exactly missing, scan it on your computer and include a cover letter explaining what you’re sending in, then email it in.


Email to: NVCElectronic@state.gov


Subject line: MTLXXXXXXXXXX – Checklist Response

  • Insert your case number instead of the X’s.


Body of the email:

Petitioner’s full name: First name, middle name, last name

Petitioner’s date of birth: Month, date, year

Petitioner’s email address: [insert email address]


Beneficiary’s full name: First name, middle name, last name

Beneficiary’s date of birth: Month, date, year

Beneficiary’s email address: [insert email address]


Extra:

This isn’t necessary, but I would add:

Please find attached the documents for the checklist.

Scanned copies of documents submitted are exact copies of unaltered documents and I understand that I will be required to submit original documents to an Immigration or Consular officer at a later date.


Expedite Request

If you ever need to request an expedite, please follow this format for a sample email:


Email: NVCExpedite@state.gov


Subject line: Attn: Pi Supervisor Sue - MTLXXXXXXXXXX

  • Insert your case number instead of the X's.


Body of the email:

Petitioner’s full name: First name, middle name, last name

Petitioner’s date of birth: Month, date, year

Petitioner’s email address: [insert email address]


Beneficiary’s full name: First name, middle name, last name

Beneficiary’s date of birth: Month, date, year

Beneficiary’s email address: [insert email address]


Then include a short paragraph or two on why you deserve an expedite. Detail the reason(s) why, such as a medical emergency, military deployment, financial hardship, etc. If you have proof you want to send in, attach it as a PDF (and mention in the body of the paragraph that you attached proof).

Usually Supervisor Sue replies in a few hours and the expedite request is either approved or denied within a few days.


Case Complete and Interview

Within a month or so of sending in the AOS and IV packages, along with the DS-260, your case should be complete (if no checklists). Call NVC every day after submitting packages and ask if your case is complete (if you wish to stay as up to date as possible).

Once you have a case complete, you can find out your interview date through an operator at NVC. An email will also be sent out with the interview date, but you might find out sooner through an operator if you call every day.

Once you have an interview date, get an appointment for your medical and prepare all your papers for the interview. Good luck!

Correspondence from NVC

Initial Information Package

What I call the initial information package is a 4 page PDF from NVCInquiry@state.gov (subject line/file name is ACL Universal). The first two pages were about establishing communication with NVC and listed the NVC case number, invoice identification number, and beneficiary ID number (all of which should already have been obtained). The third page was the DS-3032 form with a barcode. The last page was information about NVC (address, phone number, hours, etc). To see screenshots of all 4 pages, go here [28].


IV Information Package

The IV Information Package (from NVCInquiry@state.gov with a subject line/file name of P3U Agent Universal) is a 4 page document about the IV package with a bar-coded cover sheet at the end (no longer needed for EP cases). To see screenshots of this PDF package, go here [29].


Case Complete Email

It is currently taking around one week to receive the case complete email from case complete date. It should be sent to both the beneficiary and the petitioner, and comes from the NVC Electronic email address.

Dear Sir/Madam:

All documentation necessary to complete the National Visa Center's processing of your case has been received. As soon as an interview date has been scheduled, the applicant, petitioner and attorney (if applicable) will be notified.

The applicant should NOT make any travel arrangements, sell property, or give up employment until the US Embassy or Consulate General has issued a visa.

The US Embassy or Consulate General may require additional documentation at the time of the interview.


Interview Letter Package

The interview package used to be received within a day or two of the interview date being assigned, but may be taking a bit longer now to receive. To see screenshots of the PDF package, go here [30].

  • Note, the second page in the package was completely blank. For what reason, I have no idea, but this seems to be common with every person who receives the interview package.

Scanning

File Size

When scanning, make sure each package turns out to be under 10 MB at the end. Anything more and it might be rejected by NVC’s email servers as being too big. If, after scanning, you find out your package is larger than 10 MB, you might have to fiddle with some scanning settings, and scan at a lower DPI or scan in just black and white if no signature is on the page. If you are using Adobe Acrobat 10, there is an option to reduce the document size which might also help (File -> Save As -> Reduced Size PDF). When I finished putting together my husband’s AOS package, it was initially 20 MB, but after reducing the file size through Adobe Acrobat, it dropped to 8 MB! The supporting documents for the DS-260 package shouldn’t be a problem in relation to file size as so few documents are needed. My package only came out to 3 MB, so no reduction in file size was needed.


Convert and Combine PDFs

If your scanned documents come out as pictures and not PDF files, it’s very easy to convert them if you have Adobe Acrobat. Simply right-click each scanned picture and select ‘Convert to Adobe PDF’.

To combine single PDFs into one file, open up one of them, and go to File -> Combine -> Merge Files into a Single PDF. Then press the ‘Add Files’ button at top and select all your PDF files. Press the ‘Combine Files’ button at the bottom of the window and a new PDF will be created with all your scanned documents in one convenient file.


Scanning Passport Pictures

You probably won’t have any questions about scanning anything except the passport pictures. Two passport pictures are required, so I sent in two. I did it like this: I put both pictures on the scanner, one face up and the other face down. I scanned it. I then flipped them both, so the first was face down and the other now face up. I scanned it again. I sent in both of these files. Nothing is mentioned on NVC’s site about scanning passport pictures for electronic processing, but I did the above and it was accepted. Make sure you write the beneficiary’s full name, date of birth, and the case number on the back of both of them.


Adding Case Number Digitally

If you have Adobe Acrobat, you can easily add your case number digitally. To do this, go to Tools -> Comment & Markup -> Text Box Tool. Then drag the tool at the top right to make a text box. Type in the box your case number and resize the box if you need to so it fits it all on one line. When I use this tool, I get a red border and the case number comes out in red. To fix this if it happens to you too: highlight the case number and then press Ctrl + E. A properties box should appear. Click the text color option and change it to black. Then, click on the border of the text box. The options in the property window should change and there should be an option for ‘no border’. Once you’ve finished all this, then copy the text box and you can simply paste the case number on all subsequent documents.

If you have Photoshop or another photo editing program, you can probably do the same as above by adding text to each page of your package.


File Names

With NVC's new website design (early 2014), new instructions have emerged on how to send EP packages. Before, you'd combine all files into one and send that. The instructions have since changed though. Now, you attach each file individually. So, for example, for the AOS package email, you'd have a few files: cover letter, I-864 form, tax information, pay stub(s), and employment letter.

  • Note: You'd still be sending just ONE email for the AOS package and ONE email for the IV package, but you'll have much more than just one attachment for each.
  • Another note: You'll still be combining files for each document. What I mean is, for the I-864 attachment, there will be a few pages as the form itself is a few pages. The same thing will go for tax information (especially if you're sending in 3 years' worth).

The file names will follow this: case number_name_document/form. So, for example, if you're sending the I-864 form, it'd be: MTL##########_FIRSTNAME_LASTNAME_I864

For more information, read NVC's page here [31] as well as their (short) FAQ here [32].

List of Common Checklist Items

Here is a list of a few common checklist items and you should review these before submitting any forms:

-Make sure the work position on the I-864 matches EXACTLY the work position that is mentioned in the employment letter. There have been people who have gotten checklists for work positions not matching. Do not assume that NVC will think ‘Painting’ and ‘Painter’ is the same thing. Be consistent.

-Make sure the numbers on the I-864 for past incomes match EXACTLY those on the tax transcripts. I have seen people get a checklist for rounding up and also other people that were $1 off. Double and triple check these numbers.

-Make sure the name on the police certificate is the same as the names used on the forms. If you put aliases or former names on ANY forms, make sure you use them when getting a police certificate.

-When filling out the addresses on the DS-260, make sure there are no gaps and that you put every single place you’ve lived since you were 16. Double check these dates and ensure they connect from one place to the next.

-If you lived at the same address your entire life, do not put the starting date as your birth date (for the question on the DS-260 about residences). Use the date you turned 16 as the question is asking for residences since you were 16. I have seen countless people get a checklist for listing their birth date instead.

-With dates, make sure you are consistent on all forms submitted. If you said you lived at one place in 2005 on the G-325A, but then said 2006 on the DS-260, there’s a possibility of a checklist. Ensure dates match.

-For the passport pictures, make sure they are the US standard 2” x 2”. Also, make sure the beneficiary’s name is fully written on the back, as well as their date of birth, and your case number.

-Completely fill in every single line on both forms. Write in N/A or none, depending on the question. Do not leave any line blank. The person reviewing might think you didn’t fill the form out.

-When signing forms, sign in BLUE ink. Do not sign in red, do not sign in black, sign in blue. Signing in black ink might make the officer think the form isn't an original, but a photocopy.

-Go over the forms multiple times to make sure you didn’t skip a line and that all information is correct. Pay close attention to dates and spelling.

-Make sure everything is signed and dated. I see checklists all the time for forms not being signed/dated.

Useful Links

-NVC’s site [33]

-Canada wiki page [34]

-Embassy info for Montreal [35]

-Links with Canadian topics [36]

-US Consulate in Montreal [37]

-US Visa Service [38] (site where you sign up for DHL)

-Spreadsheet I put together for NVC processing times of VJ members [39]

  • Note: if you want to be added to the spreadsheet, fill out the form here [40]

-Wiki I wrote on NVC Process [41]

-Letter from the consulate about the new USCIS $165 Immigrant Fee [42] (huge thanks to VJ member MsHogan for scanning this for me!)

Feedback

If you went through this process and something was different from what is listed here, I urge you to message me and tell me. Whether it was different correspondence from NVC or the process has changed, I would love to know so I can keep this wiki as up to date as possible.

If you have any questions/comments/suggestions about this wiki, please do not hesitate to message me as well. I will respond ASAP.

A link to my profile: http://www.visajourney.com/forums/user/90397-saylin/ .