The National Visa Center has announced a new policy that may dramatically reduce waiting times for immigrant visas. As of November 12, 2014, NVC will no longer require original civil documents to be submitted before a case is considered completed and ready to be forwarded to the US consulate for an interview. Instead, applicants may mail copies of the documents to NVC and furnish the originals at the time of the immigrant visa interview.
Earlier this year, NVC was experiencing technical problems with some new software it was trying to implement. As a result of those complications as well as an increased influx of cases, NVC has now been advising applicants that there will be an additional sixty days before a document is reviewed. For spouses and family members waiting to be reunited, this can be incredibly frustrating given that in many cases, NVC has been sending out checklists requesting original documents when the applicant has already mailed them but, for whatever reason, the documents have not made their way into the file, ie., lost in the mail, lost in the mailroom, etc. In other cases, even if original documents have been sent to and acknowledged as received by the National Visa Center, checklists are nevertheless being issued because NVC does not believe the document is the original or a certified copy--when it actually is—or NVC does not believe that the document is the correct document. Think about it: if every time a document is sent, there is an additional sixty days before it is reviewed, a case could be unfairly delayed for two to six months, through no fault of the applicant.
Now with this welcome change, the ultimate decision regarding the acceptability of the civil documents will rest with the consular post, which should, in any case, be following the Department of State Reciprocity table. This change in procedure should hopefully streamline the way that immigrant visa cases are processed.
However, applicants should be aware that the Affidavit of Support and fee bills must still be submitted and processed by NVC. If there are any issues with a sponsor's ability to support the immigrant, or if the Affidavit of Support is not completed correctly, or the NVC erroneously believes that there are errors in the Affidavit of Support, a case can still be delayed longer than it normally would be because of the additional sixty-day review period.