The method for checking the status of your visa application depends upon your application’s stage in the process. More specifically, if your application is being processed initially by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS), there is a method to check with that agency. If your visa has been approved by the USCIS, there is a method of checking your status through an organization known as the National Visa Center.
In this article, we explain the various stages of processing involved in a visa application. Then, we identify the methods available for checking your visa application status with these agencies.
What are the Visa Processing Stages?
Visa applications are filed with the USCIS. The agency will review the application to make certain all elements are complete and that it meets the general requirements for the application.
Upon filing your visa with the USCIS, the agency provides you with a Notice of Action (Form I-797). On the Form I-797, you will find your visa case number or INS receipt number. The case number includes 13-digits.
The first three characters of this case number are WAC, EAC, SRC, or LIN. These letters designate one of the four USCIS service centers charged with processing visa applications.
You can check the status of your case with the USCIS by phone, email, or (for some visas) by electronic database. We will discuss this in greater detail below.
Once the visa is approved (if approved) by the USCIS, it is sent to the National Visa Center. This is a semi-governmental facility that is run by private contractors.
The National Visa Center is charged with processing all “immigrant” (rather than non-immigrant) visa petitions that have been approved by the USCIS. Additionally, the National Visa Center is responsible for processing finance visa applications (K-1 visas) and nonimmigrant spouse of US citizen visas (K-3 visas).
The National Visa Center houses the visa application for the period between when it is approved by the USCIS and when it is adjudicated at the local consulate or embassy. Adjudication at the local consulate generally begins with review of the application and an applicant interview.
You can check the status of the application while it is housed at the National Visa Center by phone, email, or fax.
How to Check the Visa Status What it is with the USCIS
Prior to filing with the USCIS, you may be curious as to the processing times. The USCIS contains detailed information on their website about processing times for various visa applications. To determine the processing time, you will need the type of form or petition, the location of the processing center, and the basis for filing the application.
How to Check the Visa Status What it is with the USCIS
The processing time at the USCIS will depend upon the work load of the processing center. If the center is busy, it could take several months. You can check the status of your application in multiple fashions.
The first option is to check the status by telephone. The phone number is 1-800-375-5283. This number will take you through various automated messages and prompts. There is no live operator available. You will need to have your USCIS receipt number available for input. The USCIS line receives thousands of phone calls in a day. You may have to continue trying the line in order to get through.
The next method of checking your visa status with the USCIS is via email. As previously mentioned, the first 3 letters of the receipt number indicate where the application is being processed. The contact address for the four processing centers are:
California Service Center: email@example.com
Vermont Service Center: firstname.lastname@example.org
Nebraska Service Center: email@example.com
Texas Service Center: firstname.lastname@example.org
Make certain to contact the service center that corresponds with your INS receipt. If your application status cannot be located, it likely has been processed and either rejected or approved and moved on to the National Visa Center. You will receive notice from the USCIS if your application has been rejected.
Yet another option is a tracker function on the USCIS website. The USCIS provides an option to check the status of the H-1B (a very popular non-immigrant work visa) on its website. The function is labeled as the “H-1B” Tracker.
USCIS Electronic Immigration System
The final option is to go online to access the USCIS Electronic Immigration System. This system is maintained by the USCIS. It allows applicants to check the status of their applications, request, and view notices of visa decisions. It requires signing up for an account based upon the INS receipt number.
How to Check the Visa Status What it is with the National Visa Center
The time that the visa application remains at the National Visa Center will depend upon the nature of the visa (the visa category) and the applicant’s country of birth.
A visa will only be processed by the consulate when it is in “current” status. Certain types of visas have annual number limits. The limit is set per country.
Applications a processed on a first-come, first-serve basis. As such, once the annual limit is reached, the existing visa applications remain in a queue for a subsequent year.
Once the visa come up for adjudication at the consulate, it is current. Generally, a visa becomes current when the National Visa Center estimates that the visa will come up for adjudication in the next year.
When it does finally come current, the visa application will be sent to the processing consulate or embassy.
While you are waiting on the status of your visa to become current, you can check with Center to determine the status.
To check on your case status you can email, call, or mail them. You must have your visa case number or INS receipt number.
Check by Telephone
The phone number to reach the National Visa Center for your case status is 603-334-0700.
After calling, you will be prompted by a recorded message to choose from various options. This will lead to recordings that answer various frequently-asked questions. This service is available around the clock, 7 days per week. There are also operators available from 8:00 AM – 3:45 PM for specific questions not answered by the automated system.
You will need the 13-digit case number that the USCIS assigns to the application. You can find this number on the Form I-797 (Notice of Action).
If your visa case number isn’t recognized, it’s likely that the National Visa Center hasn’t yet received your case and cannot report your case status.
Check By Email
- You can check your application status by emailing the National Visa Center at NVCInquiry@state.gov.
Again, you will need to place your 13-digit case number or USCIS Receipt Number in the subject line of the email.
In the body of the email, you will want to ask your question. But first, you should include the following information in the email:
- Applicant’s name
- Applicant’s date of birth
- Petitioner’s name
- Petitioner’s date of birth
- Employer’s company or organization name (if it’s an employment-based visa)
- Attorney’s name, law firm, and address
Check By Mail
Lastly, you can check on your application status by sending a mail request the National Visa Center at the following address:
The National Visa Center
32 Rochester Ave.
Portsmouth, NH 03801-2909
Do I Have to Check the Status?
No. When the visa application’s priority date (the date when the visa becomes current) is near, the National Visa Center will mail a packet of information to the applicant. This is known as a “packet 3”. This packet will provide you an update on your visa application status.
LawTrades Knows Immigration Law
It is very helpful to know the status of your visa application at every turn. Staying updated will make certain you make timely filings and provide all necessary information.
If you do find yourself in the position of filing additional requests (such as changes to the visa application), supplemental documents, etc., you should consider talking with a legal professional. There are many situations where requesting changes to a current visa application can have major effects on your eligibility for a visa and the processing times.
LawTrades is here to help if you need additional information or help in the visa filing process. Our immigration attorneys can provide all of the advice and guidance necessary to successfully navigate this complete procedure.