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    This guide has been updated by SofiaIsabella to reflect the most up to date information as of 2014-04-11

    The National Visa Center (NVC) processes I-130 petitions that were submitted to and approved by United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). The contents of this document (aka ShortCut/Guide) are based on personal experiences and knowledge of others experiences in the NVC process. This is not intended as or to replace competent legal advice. However, we strongly believe that any person with reasonable command of the English language, and without complex immigration issues, will be able to utilize this guide to literally fly through the NVC process for a CR-1/IR-1 visa.


    Pre-NVC / Preparing Documents Before NVC Processing

    Try to have all documents below in the hands of the Petitioner, before the NVC process begins. This should be done BEFORE your I-130 petition is approved

    • There are 2 types of processing, Standard & Appointment Post. Most countries are Appointment Post, whereas some (such as China) are Standard.

    This guide is based on processing for Appointment Post Embassies and Consulates.

    • Standard NVC processing will generally still have to obtain the same documents, but they will be brought to the embassy, which will provide the instructions as to those documents after it sets the interview date.
    • Contact NVC to determine if your case is Standard processing or Appointment Post processing.

    FROM BENEFICIARY (DS-261 and components for IV Packet):

    The NVC has replaced the old paper document with the electronic DS-261 form. Most people select the US based petitioner as the agent. If you have an attorney, then the attorney will be selected as the agent.

    The DS-260 is the actual Immigrant Visa Application and is also available electronically once the IV fee is paid.

    • DS-261 completed and electronically signed by beneficiary (indicating petitioner as agent).
    • DS-260 completed electronically by beneficiary (ORIGINAL) and make sure that the barcode sheet is printed out upon completion. It is also sent to your email. -- View Sample of Completed Form [1]
    • All documents that pertain to the applicant’s petition are required, even if they were previously submitted to the USCIS with the applicant’s petition.
    • Photocopy Requirement - In addition to sending the original documents or certified copies of the documents to the NVC, the applicant and each accompanying family member must submit a photocopy of the original documents or certified copies of the documents.
    • Translations - All documents not 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.
    • The translation must include a statement signed by the translator that states that the:
        Translation is accurate, and Translator is competent to translate.
    • Marriage certificate (ORIGINAL or CERTIFIED depends on your country {check with NVC})
    Note: Marriage certificates from certain countries are unavailable.
    More specific information is available from NVC, the nearest United States immigrant visa processing post,
    or online at: http://travel.state.gov/visa/frvi/reciprocity/reciprocity_3272.html
    • Police Certificate based on country: Use this link, [2] select country, and scroll down to Police Certificate section
      • NOTE1: Police Certificate is required for any place in their country of citizenship; the beneficiary has lived longer than six (6) months, after age of 16.

      • NOTE2: Police Certificate is required for any places which beneficiary has lived longer than twelve (12) months in any other country other than country of citizenship, after age of 16.

      • PCC can take a long time to receive, so request it earlier rather than later (for some countries, such as India, your PCC may need to be within 6 months, for most within 1 year)

    • Two (2) Passport size photos (2in.x2in.) (5x5 cm) from beneficiary to accompany the IV packet
    • Check with your corresponding embassy to see how many photos are required to accompany the medical. Some countries require only 1 photo while others (such as Brazil) require 10.
    • Beneficiary’s passport biographic page (Photocopy)
    The applicant and each applicant that is traveling together with the applicant must submit a photocopy of the biographic data page from the respective valid passport.
    Submit a photocopy of the biographic data page of the applicant’s and the applicant’s individual family members’ valid passports.
    This is the page that shows the applicant’s name and date and place of birth.
    Note: Do NOT send the applicant’s passport(s) to the NVC, just the photocopy of the biographic data page.
    • Beneficiary’s birth certificate (Certified) WARNING - Some birth certificates have an EXPIRATION DATE
    • Each applicant will need to obtain an original birth certificate issued by the official custodian of birth records in the country of birth, showing the date and place of birth and the parentage of the alien, based upon the original registration of birth.
    • The certificate must contain the:
    • Person’s date of birth
    • Person’s place of birth
    • Names of both parents, and
    • Annotation by the appropriate authority indicating that it is an extract from the official records
    • Unobtainable birth certificates
    • The applicant’s birth record may not be obtainable. Some reasons are listed below:
    • The applicant’s birth was never officially recorded.
    • The applicant’s birth records have been destroyed.
    • The appropriate government authority will not issue one.
    • Please obtain a certified statement from the appropriate government authority stating the reason the applicant’s birth record is not available. With the certified statement the applicant must submit secondary evidence. For example:
    • A baptismal certificate that contains the date and place of birth, as well as both parents names (providing the baptism took place shortly after birth)
    • An adoption decree for an adopted child
    • An affidavit from a close relative, preferably the applicant’s mother, stating the date and place of birth, both parents names, and the mother’s maiden name.
    • Beneficiary’s Military Record (Certified)
    Note: Military records from certain countries are unavailable.
    More specific information is available from NVC, the nearest United States immigrant visa processing post, or online at: http://travel.state.gov/visa/frvi/reciprocity/reciprocity_3272.html.
    • Divorce, Death Certificates (Certified)
    Applicants who have been previously married must obtain evidence of the termination of EACH prior marriage.
    Beneficiary evidence must be in the form of original documents issued by a competent authority, or certified copies bearing the appropriate seal or stamp of the issuing authority, such as:
    FINAL divorce decree
    Death certificate
    Annulment papers

    FROM PETITIONER (Components for I-864 AOS Package) :

    The I-864 is known as the Affidavit of Support. It's proof that the petitioner and/or co-sponsors can afford to support the beneficiary.

    By signing the I-864 the sponsor agrees that the sponsor takes responsibility for supporting the beneficiary (or beneficiaries) so that the beneficiary is not a burden on the state. The responsibility terminates when the beneficiary becomes a US Citizen, or has 40 quarters of coverage under Social Security Act (40 quarters is equivalent to 10 years), or the beneficiary no longer has permanent resident status, or the beneficiary becomes subject to removal but gets a new adjustment of status based on a new affidavit of support, or the beneficiary dies. Details are in Part 8 of the Affidavit of Support form I-864 at page 6.


    NOTE: The current USCIS page has an I-864 form that has an expiration date of 9/30/2012 but as of 10/15/2012 the USCIS page for I-864 does not have an updated form. The USCIS page has a note saying: "USCIS continues to accept the 09/19/11 edition of Form I-864 available here (previous editions accepted) despite the passing of the form's expiration date. An updated form will be posted as soon as it becomes available."


    • IRS Tax information (photocopy or IRS Tax Return Transcript) - 1 year is required, up to 3 years may help.
    • Tax Return Transcripts, optional but may help. The I-864 form requires a "Tax Return Transcript" and not a "Tax Account Transcript." The transcripts can be order for free by one of the following methods:
    • Fill out the form 4506-T and mail it to IRS
    • Or request the transcripts on the phone by calling IRS at 1 (800) 829-1040.
    • Or request the transcript online at IRS - Order a transcript. The information you need to order the transcript online includes: Social Security Number, Date of Birth, Street Address and Zip / Postal Code.
    • W-2s and/or 1099s
    • 1040 from most recent tax year
    • Pay stubs for current year (6 months should do)
    • Employment letter showing your income and position.
    • Make sure that position/title is consistent on all forms.
    • Co-Sponsor in same HouseHold: I-864A and all Tax information as above
    • Co-Sponser NOT in same HouseHold: I-864 and all Tax information as above
    • The petitioner must ALWAYS submit an I-864....even if there's zero income.
    • NOTE: Even something as simple as Painter on one form, and Painting on another, could trigger an RFE (Request for Evidence)
    • Assets may be used to supplement income (such as bank accounts, equity in a home, but when an automobile is used, the first car may not be used...only 2nd, 3rd, etc)
    • Assets of Petitioner are calculated at 1/3rd value. If the Petitioner has $30,000.00 USD in a bank account, they will be given $10,000.00 USD credit toward income requirement.
    • Assets of Beneficiary or Sponsor are calculated at 1/5th value. If the Beneficiary has $50,000.00 USD in a bank account, they will be given $10,000.00 USD credit toward income requirement.
    • Assets may be used to entirely satisfy the income requirement, but you will still be required to submit the Petitioner's most recent tax return.


    At NVC / The Guide to Flying through NVC

    This section will help you understand timing and terms of the NVC process


    1. NOA2 - Petition(s) Approved Notice(s) from USCIS.

    You find out from USCIS that your "Petition was Approved".

    If you didn’t get all the paperwork required for AOS and IV, NOW is the time. Especially PCC (Police Clearance Certificate), Birth Certificates and Tax info, as well as any other info needed for I-864.

    Hang on…NVC knows NOTHING about your case yet.


    2. USCIS Sends Package to NVC

    NVC should receive your package within a few days, but it could take longer.

    You won't know your package is there until you call NVC (see step 4)

    3. NVC Scans Package.

    This marries the USCIS receipt number to your newly generated NVC number which is based on


    • E = 3 digit embassy code (example RDJ for Rio De Janeiro)
    • Y = 4 digit code for year (example 2014)
    • O= 3 digit code for Ordinal date plus 500
    • Example I. Aug 28 = 241st ordinal day ADD 500 = 741
    • Example II. 741 SUBTRACT 500 = 241st ordinal day (Aug. 28)
    • S = Sequence number of the day (if you were the second approval scanned, your code would be 002)

    Full Example of NVC case number = RDJ2014741002

    4. Getting your NVC number.

    Call NVC at 1 (603) 334-0700. Put this number on speed dial…it’s often busy, and you’ll use it a LOT.

    If it's been longer than 20 - 30 business days and you still don't have your NVC case number, start sending up flares.

    Call NVC and talk to a supervisor. Be prepared to send them a copy of your NOA2.

    Once your case number has been assigned call back and speak to an operator. Give them an e-mail address for you and for your spouse. From then on NVC will e-mail you any and all correspondence.

    5. Case info is manually loaded into system.

    Even though you have an NVC number, your case information still needs to be manually input before anything else can happen.

    Until such time that documents are fully loaded in, NVC will not generate or accept any payment or electronic documents via email or US Postal Mail.

    When your case has been manually input, the DS-261 and AOS (Affidavit of Support) fee bills will be generated.

    Also, when the AOS fee bill is generated, your IIN (Invoice Identification Number) is created.

    Note - it may be possible that your IIN is created when your NVC number is created...THIS is the time to begin the quest for the IIN, but when requesting, ask for Invoice ID Number, not "IIN".

    Try hard; every second of your life…having your IIN will save you weeks in the process.

    Your case could be input immediately or could take weeks. Remember these words "Maybe tomorrow, maybe in 4 to 6 weeks, there is no pattern".


    6. Submit DS-261 to continue processing.

    The DS-261 AKA Choice of Agent, is the electronic form that indicates who will pay the bills and accept other documents from NVC.

    Once accepted, you will get an email message...or you can confirm with operator.

    7. Do you have all IV Package documents and AOS Package documents?

    Things are going to start going fast from here. If you don’t have everything, you will slow yourself down.


    8. Getting your IIN (invoice identification number)

    It is no longer possible to obtain your IIN from an operator. It will be included with the directions to pay online when your AOS Fee Bill is generated. If you have already given NVC your e-mail addresses this will be e-mailed to you.

    Do not attempt to send AOS Fee Bill before it has been generated. Do not attempt to send AOS Package or IV Package until their respective Fee Bills are paid.

    As soon as your AOS Fee Bill is paid, you can submit your AOS Package (See step 10)

    Time for NVC to accept your payment will vary, online payments usually post within 1 or 2 days.

    9. Paying AOS Fee Bill Online.

    If you have your NVC CASE NUMBER and INN by now, sign onto the site here: [3] every now and then until your AOS fee bill is generated and ready to be PAID.

    AOS is the first fee that becomes available to be paid online. Pay the fee (currently $88 USD) ASAP and wait until status shows as PAID in one or two business days. Refer to website above.

    CAUTION: Website shows status of payment as “IN PROCESS” and it might change to “NOT PAID” do not panic or pay twice, if this happens, wait till payment status shows as PAID. Do not pay twice.

    Once the DS-261 is accepted, your IV fee bill (currently $230 USD) will be generated...THEN you can pay that bill online as well

    It should take 1 or 2 business days for your payment to be accepted online, as long as there are no problems.

    The online payment system has problems. Sometimes it might show someone elses info, but don't panic, just refresh or login again.


    10. Send in I-864 AOS Package to NVC

    When status of the AOS shows as PAID (online): Print the barcode and include it in your AOS package which are:

    • BARCODED Cover Sheet (to be printed from web when you submit AOS payment)
    • Your OWN cover sheet listing what documents are in the package, so they're easy for the reviewer to locate
    • Completed I-864 signed
    • Original Employment Letter
    • Last 3 years Tax transcripts, W-2 and/or 1099 (any source of income) <--Preferred by NVC
    • Most recent federal tax return (all forms, optional)
    • Copy of PAY STUBS for current year (showing how much money you have made year to date, optional)
    • SPONSOR: I-864 + all above documents for sponsor. Each sponsor that lives in the same household as the petitioner, should use I-864a, instead of I-864
    • Make 2 extra copies of this package. Send 1 copy to the beneficiary

    Make sure to write your case number in the upper right-hand corner of EVERY page including I-864.

    Send the package to:

    National Visa Center
    ATTN: CMR 
    31 Rochester Ave. Suite 100
    Portsmouth, NH 03801-2914


    Specific questions about a case to:


    National Visa Center
    ATTN: WC 
    31 Rochester Ave. Suite 200 
    Portsmouth, NH 03801-2915

    11. Paying IV Fee Bill Online & Sending IV Package (DS-260)

    a. Time to pay your IV Fee Bill

    You should keep checking the website in item #9 to find out when the IV Fee Bill is available online to be PAID

    Once you have PAID the IV fee bill, in a couple of days it will post as PAID on the website.

    Print the bar-coded sheet from the IV fee bill website after filling out the DS-260 and include in your IV package and overnight it to NVC.

    If you are unable to pay your IV Fee Bill online, you will have to wait for the bill from NVC, and pay it via mail.


    b. Send your IV Package (USPS Express mail gives tracking and essentially insures delivery)

    Below are the package contents:

    • BARCODED Cover Sheet (to be printed from web when payment is submitted for the DS-260)
    • You OWN cover sheet listing what documents are in the package, so they're easy for the reviewer to locate
    • Photocopy of the beneficiary's passport biographic data page.
    • Original/certified copy of beneficiary’s birth certificate.
    • Original/certified copy of beneficiary’s and petitioner’s marriage certificate.
    • Original police certificates of the beneficiary.
    • Original/certified copy of military record, if applicable.
    • Original/certified copy of divorce decree, death certificate, etc. of previous marriage, if applicable.

    Make 2 extra copies of this package. Send 1 copy to the beneficiary

    Once everything has been sent in, it's time to wait.

    Send the package to:


    National Visa Center
    ATTN: CMR 
    31 Rochester Ave. Suite 100 
    Portsmouth, NH 03801-2914


    12. Final Stages of NVC

    a. If you were also approved to apply for a K-3 visa (otherwise skip).

    If (again big IF) you had simultaneously petitioned to apply for a K-3 visa (by sending in an I-129f) then you may be able to allow that process to continue in order to get an interview date at the consulate before your case is approved at NVC. This requires luck and timing.

    • USCIS will send your approved I-129f to NVC.
    • NVC will "touch" the I-129f long enough to give it a case number and pass it on to the embassy.
    • The embassy will notify the beneficiary of the next steps, and give them the case number assigned by NVC.
    • The embassy will tell the beneficiary how and where to setup the medical exam.
    • The beneficiary can schedule a medical exam.
    • The beneficiary can request an interview date, far enough in advance that their CR-1/IR-1 Visa case will be completed at NVC.
    • Once NVC completes the case, the beneficiary should NOT contact the embassy/consulate to request that they change the already scheduled K-3 interview for a CR-1/IR-1.  Instead, contact a supervisor at NVC, and request that your completed package be expeditiously sent to the embassy/consulate. This strategy is not guaranteed, It will vary by embassy.
    • Technically, if you have a CR-1/IR-1 that's ready, the embassy/consulate can not issue or schedule you for a K-3. They also can not schedule a CR-1/IR-1 interview...only NVC can.


    b. CR-1/IR-1 case completes.

    • NVC will contact you (or you'll know because you've called once or twice a day).
    • Setup a medical exam with approved medical facility.
    • NVC will advise of interview date at embassy.


    1. NVC sets an appointment date for you and sends out your package to the US Embassy.

    If you're really #######, paranoid, or just a busybody, you can track the package status. You can use the date after your interview was assigned, as the tracking reference date, and then do a search on DHL. The format to use is "EXP 07 OCT 2008A" don't forget the spaces...and to set the date range on the tracking page. The website for tracking is. http://track.dhl-usa.com/TrackByRef.asp?nav=TrackByRef The package may not go out on the next day, but the reference code will still be for that date. When your package is able to be tracked, it will make more sense. You'll see a list of packages going to different embassies. You'll know which one is yours.

    2. Embassy receives the package.

    3. If your spouse hasn't had their medical, now is the time.

    4. Spouse interviews, turns in medical, hands in passport.

    5. Passport is returned.

    6. Spouse gets on a plane (see below for information on cheap tickets)

    7. Spouse gets off a plane.

    8. Husband and wife (and possibly children) are united.

    9. You live happily ever after.

    10. The journey is done.


    c. Getting Your Spouse Home.

    Besides http://www.cheapairlines.us/, http://www.Orbitz.com and http://www.Opodo.co.uk, Check http://www.mobissimo.com. It checks all the airlines plus conglomerates.

    13. Point of Entry (POE)

    1. You must pay the $165 fee online using USCIS ELIS after you receive your immigrant visa package from a U.S. Embassy or Consulate abroad (including Canada and Mexico) and before you depart for the United States.

    2. Do NOT open the sealed envelope that is sent when your passport is returned.

    3. Check your visa for any errors.

    4. NOW, you can purchase your ticket(s) to USA

    5. Regardless of final destination, POE (Point of Entry), is the first American location that your plane lands in.

    6. You will handover your sealed visa package to an Immigration Officer, after arrival.

    7. There will be a brief interview and processing.

    8. The sealed envelope will be taken from you, your passport will be stamped, and you'll be on your way.

    CR-1 and IR-1 are single entry visas. They essentially die once used. However, the I-551 stamp that goes in the passport upon entry acts like a temporary green card until the actual green card arrives in the mail sometime later. The stamp, like the green card to follow, signifies permanent resident status. US permanent residents can re-enter the US as often as they like.

    Expectations using this guide

    Using these steps, and in a perfect world, you can get through NVC in as little as 4 weeks (yes, 30 days).

    To get an idea of current wait times at the NVC, visit Saylin's spreadsheet: [4]


    To add your name to Saylin's form, go here: [5]


    According to the spreadsheet, the current record holder is Alaska2012, who flew through the NVC in 8 days, back in 2012 without being expedited.


    2014 average wait times are 59 days. This includes expedited cases, electronic processing, checklist wait times, etc.


    If you don't follow these steps, or if you aren't prepared for each step, it will take longer. The longest time at the NVC took 663 days (in 2010).


    There are no guarantees in life or in immigration....but we're doing our best to make it simple.


    When your case completes, go to Dwheels76's spreadsheet to estimate how long until your interview takes place: [6]


    To add your name and information to Dwheels76's form, go here: [7]


    Good luck for a speedy process through NVC.

    RFE (Request For Evidence) NOTES:

    Stay on top of your case during your stay in NVC so you catch an RFE as soon as it pops up.

    • IF YOU ARE NOT SURE THAT YOU HAVE AN RFE, USE CAUTION. The RFE advice below is under review. A VJ member has reported that they know of instances where sending in RFE information has delayed cases. We are waiting for specific information on these instances, and until such time we caution all users of the guide to use their best judgement in responding to a "possible RFE".
    • If you review your packages, you might even find an RFE before NVC does, and can send the correction at anytime.
    • When reviewing your package, it's helpful to know some common RFE as linked here [[8]], as well as searching the forums.

    If you are issued an RFE, send following documents:

    • BARCODED cover sheet you printed from the website, but when addressing your package, change the Attention line from "ATTN: CMR" to "ATTN: DR"
    • Your own Cover Sheet listing the documents you're sending and reason.
    • Include the documents missing or corrected based on operator suggestion and your own common sense.

    Send the package to: NOTE - Other NVC Addresses have Changed. Please do not use this address for RFE...until it has been confirmed as current.


    National Visa Center
    ATTN: DR
    32 Rochester Ave. 
    Portsmouth, NH 03801-2909



    1: If the beneficiary’s interview will be in their native country, all documents from that country may not need to be translated. All documents from outside their native country should be translated in English with an accompanying certification from the translator, and the original language documents.

    2: If you’d like to be safe, you may translate all documents into English, with certification and original language documents.

    3: Make 2 copies of each package before you send it. That way you can send one package to your spouse for review, and you can have a copy ready to go incase something gets lost or is questioned.

    4: A HUGE SPECIAL THANKS to Saylin and Dwheels76 for your efforts in putting together the spreadsheets. Thanks to all those who have contributed in 2013 & 2014 given the new changes.

    5: A HUGE SPECIAL THANKS goes out to all the Aug. 2008 folks that gave us feedback on their journey, and helped us to make this guide what it is.

    6: Wondering what to do with the money this guide has saved you (instead of hiring a lawyer)? Master Rajaa Reda says, "invest iinto a nice laptop and printer... less money and it'll get the s/o here faster." Someone else said in 2014 to spend the money to go someplace nice on vacation with your loved one.

    7: Join us on facebook! The USC Green Card Petitioner's Committee and VisaJourney

    =Created by Nimche & LingLing 4 October 2008 (UTC) and continues to be updated by enthusiastic VisaJourney Members.

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    NOTE: The above information does not address the specific requirements for any given case and is not a substitute for the advice of an attorney.

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