After U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) approves your immigrant visa petition, USCIS forwards your petition to the National Visa Center (NVC) in Portsmouth, NH for immigrant visa pre-processing at the correct time. Immediate relative categories do not have yearly numerical limits. However, family preference and employment based immigrant categories have numerical limits each year; therefore, lengthy wait times are involved for processing to begin, as explained below.
If your Priority Date meets the most recent Cut-off Date, or is likely to become current soon, the NVC will:
If your Priority Date DOES NOT meet the most recent Cut-off Date, the NVC will notify you and hold your petition until your Priority Date meets the most recent Cut-off Date or is likely to become current soon. As your Priority Date gets closer to the Cut-off Date, NVC will contact you to start processing. The Department of State updates the Cut-off Dates on a monthly basis in the Visa Bulletin.
If your Priority Date meets the most recent Cut-off Date (called becomes current) and your petition is ready to begin processing at the NVC. As your Priority Date gets closer to the Cut-off Date and is likely to be current soon, NVC will contact you to start processing. Learn more by reviewing the Visa Bulletin.
USCIS assigned your immigrant visa petition a Priority Date when you filed it with USCIS. If you are unsure of your Priority Date, you should refer to the Approval Notice that you received from USCIS.