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What happens to an approved petition?

Visa Processing at the National Visa Center

On receipt of the approved petition from the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS), the National Visa Center (NVC) will send the applicant (beneficiary) a form letter confirming receipt of the petition and notifying them of their priority date. If the applicant's immigrant visa case is current or when it becomes current, the NVC will send the applicant the Form DS-3032, Choice of Address and Agent Form and the petitioner an Affidavit of Support, processing fee bill.

What does "current" mean?

There are numerical limits on the number of immigrant visas that can be granted to aliens from any one foreign country.  The limit is based on place of birth, not citizenship.  Because of the numerical limits, this means there is a waiting time before the immigrant visa can be granted.

The term current refers to the priority date of a petition in preference immigrant visa cases in relationship to the immigrant cut-off date.  The cut off date (often incorrectly called the "priority date" or "visa number") is the date that determines whether a preference immigrant visa applicant can be scheduled for an immigrant visa interview in any given month. If an applicant's priority date is before the cut-off date according to the monthly Visa Bulletin, the applicant's case is current. This means the applicant's immigrant visa case can now be processed. If the applicant's priority date is later/comes after the cut-off date, however, the applicant will need to wait longer, until their priority date is reached (becomes current).

Note: In the case of employment-based petition it is not possible to begin the administrative processing of an application until the priority date, date on which the labor certification is filed, becomes current.

What is a Form DS-3032 and what does the applicant do with it?

Form DS-3032 is used by the applicant to nominate an "agent" to assist with their application and to specify a mailing address to be used by the NVC. The "agent" may be the one who filed the immigrant visa petition, an attorney, friend, or non-governmental or community-based organization. The agent cannot sign documents for the applicant, but can assist with fee payments and document collection. Note: If the Form DS-3032 is not returned within one year, the NVC will begin terminating the case.

Is the applicant required to nominate an agent?

There is no requirement that the applicant nominate an agent. The NVC may send all correspondence directly to the applicant if the applicant wishes. The applicant should complete the relevant section of the DS-3032 and return the form directly to the NVC.

When is a DS-3032 not required?

A DS-3032 is not required if a Form G-28, Notice of Entry of Appearance as Attorney or Representative is received from USCIS indicating that an attorney is the agent, the applicant filed the petition on his or her behalf, or a child is being adopted.

What happens once the NVC has received the DS-3032?

On receipt of the DS-3032, the NVC will mail the agent or applicant instructions about how to apply for the immigrant visa, including information about how to pay the mandatory visa processing fee and who has to pay it. On payment of the fee, the NVC will mail the agent or applicant the "Instruction Package for Immigrant Visa Applicants" that consists of the Form DS-230-Part I, Application for Immigrant Visa and Alien Registration - Biographic Data, and Form DS-2001, Applicant's Declaration of Qualification for Immigrant Visa Interview.

What does the applicant do with the forms?

The biographic data form DS-230-I Part I should be completed for each person applying for a visa, regardless of age. The form may be photocopied if insufficient copies are received. The completed DS-230-Part I should be returned immediately to the NVC. Failure to return DS-230-Part I promptly will delay the processing of the application.

The applicant should assemble all the relevant documents required in support of the application and forward the Form DS-2001, Applicant's Declaration of Qualification for Immigrant Visa Interview to the NVC. Note: Relevant documents must not be mailed to the NVC or the Immigrant Visa Unit at the Embassy or consulate. Instructions on what to do with these documents will be provided before your visa interview.

What happens next?

On receipt of the forms DS-230-Part I and DS-2001, the NVC will conduct any additional processing required and forward the applicant's file to the U.S. Immigrant Visa Unit in India that serves the applicant's current residence.

After an Immigrant Visa Unit receives the applicant’s file from the NVC it will inform the applicant by mail about their visa interview appointment.

The petitioner and Form I-864, Affidavit of Support

The person bringing the beneficiary (applicant) to live permanently in the U.S., the petitioner, must accept legal responsibility for financially supporting the beneficiary. The petitioner accepts this responsibility and becomes the beneficiary's sponsor by completing and signing a document called an affidavit of support. This legally enforceable responsibility lasts until the beneficiary becomes a U.S. citizen or can be credited with 40 quarters of work (usually 10 years).

After the petitioner has paid the Form I-864 processing fee the NVC will send a letter with instructions to the petitioner. The petitioner should return a completed Form I-864 to the NVC. When the NVC has reviewed and approved the petitioner's Form I-864 it will be forwarded, along with the petition, to the appropriate Immigrant Visa Unit in India.

For detailed information about the Affidavit of Support visit the Department of State website.

Important Note: The applicant and petitioner/sponsor must not download and mail any forms to the NVC until they have received official notification that the NVC is ready to proceed with the application. Forms received before official notifications will be discarded.