Introduced in September 2013, the DS-260 online filing replaced the paper-based DS-230 Application for Immigrant Visa and Alien Registration for all immigrant visa applications. The National Visa Center in its guidance addressed this change as one that will streamline and expedite the immigrant visa process. Recently however, in addition to extensive delays and other issues, National Visa Center, part of U.S. State Department responsible for visa processing prior to transfer to consular posts, has reported experiencing technical difficulties with their online system related to the access of electronic immigrant visa application (Form DS-260) as well as the Online Choice of Address and Agent form (DS-261), as well as the ability to make and process immigrant visa fee payments electronically. The State Department has released guidance indicating that it is aware of the issues and is working to fix these problems.
Issue 1: Unable to Access Form DS-261 in order to select a new agent
An “agent” is a individual who will be corresponding with National Visa Center on behalf of the applicant(s), such as an attorney.
During the period of time while NVC continues to have issues with the electronic processing of the form DS-261, applicants may choose or change their agent telephonically by calling the National Visa Center at 603-334-0888 and pressing option “2”. The agent’s full name, phone number, email address, and mailing address will be required in order to process this request.
Issue 2: Unable to pay your immigrant visa processing fee or Affidavit of Support fee
An immigrant visa processing fee must be paid in order to allow access to and filing of the immigrant visa application Forms DS-260 online. National Visa Center invoices the immigrant fees by sending fee bills via electronic or regular mail to the applicant(s) and/or the designated agent. Previously, National Visa Center encouraged electronic payment of the immigrant visa fees via its website. However, during this time while the State Department is working to resolve this system glitch, applicants are encouraged to make payment via certified mail by completing the following steps:
- Send a cashier’s check (from a U.S. bank) or money order payable to the U.S. Department of State for the amount listed on the fee invoices. The NVC does not accept personal checks.
- Write your NVC case number on the memo line of the cashier’s check or money order.
- Mail the cashier’s check or money order with the fee invoices to the address below:
NVC Fee Processing Center
P.O. Box 790136
St. Louis, MO 63179-0136
If you have not yet received the immigrant visa fee bills from National Visa Center, please contact its representatives telephonically at 603-334-0888. For additional information regarding immigrant visa fees, please go to nvc.state.gov/fee.
Issue 3: Unable to access Form DS-260 to complete the Immigrant Visa Application
According to the DOS, Consular Electronic Application Center (“CEAC”) software programmers are working to give access to all users who have previously tried to log into the system but received an error message. Due to the volume of users who need access, this may take up to 10 days. The DOS suggests that waiting 10 days and then attempting to log onto the system once again. Please visit this page often for instructions on any actions that may be required on your part and for other updates. However, if, even after that time, access to DS-260’s is still unavailable, National Visa Center should be contacted telephonically at 603-334-0888, at option “2.” Customer service representatives will refer applicant specific information to the CEAC software programmers for case-specific assistance.
For more information regarding immigrant visa processing and issues with National Visa Center as well U.S. consular posts, please contact our attorneys.