The National Visa Center (NVC), in operation now for 20 years, is the U.S. Department of State agency responsible for pre-processing approved immigrant visas that include immigration based on: family and employment sponsorship, diversity visas and special immigrant visas. This month, the NVC met with the American Immigrant Lawyer’s Association and provided insight into its increased processing times, announced Fiscal Year statistics, and reported expected changes in 2015.

The NVC noted that during this year it started to receive 25,000 immigrant cases per week as opposed to roughly 8,000 cases as a result of USCIS working through its I-130, Immigrant Petition for Alien Relative application backlog. Due to this increase in volume, timing for case creation and document review increased, which is being addressed through staff adjustments. The NVC provided statistics for Fiscal Year 2014 including: it received 709,000 cases from USCIS, shipped 349,000 cases to various Consular Posts worldwide, and received 1.6 million calls. With respect to future changes, the NVC reported that early in 2015 it will start handling telephone inquiries regarding non-immigrant visa cases.

In light of this upcoming change, its telephone system will be updated to accommodate the increase in calls by next February. Another update in 2015 involves the NVC’s change from paper-based applications to electronic processing, a process that has been tested by select consular posts since 2008. Software to enable this is being developed for full roll-out sometime late next year. Other topics addressed included: visa retrogression, aging-out children, best contact information for the NVC, and immigrant visa applications that are erroneously terminated by the NVC when the applicant does not make contact on a case within 1 year of being notified of visa availability.

*Not admitted to the practice of law.