Please help me: I am confused and I don’t know what to do! Several months ago, I received an appointment letter from the National Visa Center (NVC) with instructions that my family and I should go to St. Luke’s Medical Center Extension Clinic to undergo medical examinations. We did everything as instructed by NVC and then showed up for our interview.
On the day of our appointment, we were so excited because after almost 20 years of waiting, my father’s visa petition for my family and me has finally become current for processing. Our dreams of coming to America to be with my elderly parents are finally within our grasp! Unfortunately, because of the long wait, the NBI clearances that we submitted to NVC expired. My wife and I brought along new NBI clearances during the interview, but we did not know that my 16-year-old son also needed one.
After the interview, it was explained to us that our visas cannot be approved until all application documents have been updated. We were then given instructions on how to send or submit an NBI clearance for my son. Because of his busy school schedule, it took my son about a month to send the NBI clearance. We were not worried, however, because we knew that our medical reports are valid for three more months and our applications are valid for one year.
Two weeks later, I received a letter from the Embassy that brought about all my confusion. In the letter, it said that the Embassy is unable to continue processing our applications because our priority date is not eligible for processing. You can imagine our surprise upon learning this. A few months ago NVC confirmed that our case is already eligible for processing! Why is the Embassy suddenly telling me that it isn’t? Why were we scheduled for an interview if our priority date was not current for processing? What do I have to do to get our visas?
I hope you can answer my questions, Vizard. I don’t think I can wait another 20 years. Thank you very much and more power to you.
Mr. Coronado M. Pacencia
Dear Mr. Pacencia:
It appears that your case is among those that retrogressed. Only those visa petitions with current priority dates are eligible for processing. This means that at any particular month, only visa petitions that were filed prior to a certain date (depending on the visa category) are eligible to receive visa numbers for that particular month.
Due to changes in the availability of visa numbers, however, the priority dates that are considered current also change from month to month. Sometimes the dates move forward, sometimes they stay the same, and sometimes they move back (retrogress). Retrogression happens when the monthly demand for visa numbers has exceeded the visa numbers available for issuance. It is therefore possible for a case to be current for processing one month and then become non-current the next. Unfortunately, there is no way that we can reliably predict the movement of priority dates. Consular Officers have no control over this.
While it is understandable for applicants to want their visas to be issued as soon as possible, U.S. immigration law requires that visa numbers only be made available strictly in order of priority date. This limitation cannot be waived under the law, regardless of the applicants’ personal circumstances.
The good news is that retrogression is not forever. As soon as your priority date becomes current for processing again, the Embassy will contact you to continue processing your visa applications and update documents that may have expired. The best thing to do is to check periodically the current priority dates for your visa category. This information is available from the State Department’s website at http://travel.state.gov/visa/bulletin/bulletin_1360.html .
I hope this information is helpful to you. Good luck!
F2A and F2B visa categories are family-sponsored immigrant visa petitions that may be filed by a U.S. Lawful Permanent Resident (LPR) with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). Spouses and minor children of LPRs fall under the F2A visa category, while the adult unmarried sons and daughters (age 21 and over) of LPRs are classified in the F2B category.
Visa Category Conversion: When Does It Happen?
Visa category conversions happen when there are changes in certain personal circumstances of petitioners or beneficiaries.
F2A – F2B Conversion
When the minor child of an LPR petitioner turns 21 years old before his/her priority date becomes current for processing, in accordance with U.S. law, the original F2A visa petition is converted to the F2B visa category. The original priority date is retained. (The Child Status Protection Act (CSPA) may apply in some cases. For information on CSPA, please visit http://manila.usembassy.gov/wwwh3228.html.)
For more information on CSPA, see our recent blog post.
Human trafficking is among the most terrible workplace abuses that an individual in the U.S. could encounter. Human trafficking occurs whenever a person is recruited, transported, or kept against his or her will for purposes of exploitation. For a full definition of human trafficking, please visit www.state.gov/g/tip. The following are a few of the warning signs:
• Beatings, physical abuse, sexual abuse or threats of such abuse,
• Locking in or restraining a worker,
• Threats of harm to the worker or the worker’s family if the worker tries to leave or complain about treatment,
• Threats of being deported or arrested for trying to leave, complain, or seek help for the worker’s situations,
• Denial of adequate food, sleep, or medical care,
• Preventing or restricting communicating freely with family or other workers,
• False promises about working conditions, living conditions, or pay.
If any of these occur while you or someone you know is working in the United States, get help immediately by calling 911 or the National Human Trafficking Resource Center (1-888-373-7888).
THE K PACKET
I am confused about the Form DS-160 and Form DS-156. What is the difference?
K visa applicants are not yet required to complete the DS-160 (Nonimmigrant Visa Electronic Application). Each K nonimmigrant visa applicant must submit the following:
- two (2) completed copies of the DS-156 Nonimmigrant Visa Application
- two (2) completed copies of the DS-157 Supplemental Nonimmigrant Visa Application
- one (1) completed copy of the DS-156K Nonimmigrant Fiancé(e) Visa Application (this is for K1 applicants only)
The forms may be downloaded from this link: http://travel.state.gov/visa/forms/forms_1342.html.
Should you make a mistake in filling out the forms, you may download new ones.
I wish to know how and where I can get a CEAC confirmation letter as part of the requirement for my visa interview.
CEAC stands for Consular Electronic Application Center, where the Form DS-160 is located. Since K visa applicants do not need to fill out this form, a CEAC letter is not needed.
The Priority Interview Program (PIP) is designed to promote and facilitate legitimate business travel between the United States and the Philippines. It allows qualifying businesses access to expedited visa appointments, a dedicated line of communication, and priority processing of visas and deliveries.
To apply for PIP membership, the interested company must submit the following:
1. A cover letter including a brief description of the company and the type of business in the Philippines, including the number of full-time direct-hire employees in the Philippines.
2. A statement of the company’s travel needs, including number of employees sent to the United States in the last two years, as well as those anticipated to be sent within the next year
3. A Specimen Signature page printed on company letterhead. This one-page Specimen Signature should contain signatures of at least two but no more than four people designated to sign guarantee letters and other documents with respect to the program.
4. Complete contact information (email address, telephone, and fax) for each company signatory and authorized representative designated to act on behalf of the company.
5. Three letters of references from customers, suppliers or business partners in the United States. Only one reference letter should be from a business partner in the United States.
Applications for membership should be sent to PIPManila@state.gov or to the following address:
Priority Interview Program Coordinator
Nonimmigrant Visa Unit
Embassy of the United States of America
1201 Roxas Boulevard
Please note that employment with a PIP-designated company does not guarantee visa issuance.
THE ADVENTURES OF BONG VOYAGE
Bong Voyage, our perpetual immigrant visa applicant, just received his visa packet and passport with his immigrant visa. As he tried to retrieve his passport, he accidentally ripped the yellow envelope and tore his immigrant data summary. He immediately went to the Embassy with his visa documents to inquire about what he should do.
Bong Voyage: Good morning.
Consul Jimmy Murdochs: Hello, sir. How can I help you today?
Bong Voyage: I received my visa documents the other day. However, as I retrieved my passport, I accidentally ripped the yellow envelope open and tore the immigrant data summary as well. What should I do?
Jimmy Murdochs: I see. Have you read the notice we sent together with the packet stating not to open the yellow envelope and/or detach the immigrant data summary?
Bong Voyage: Yes, I read the notification, but it was too late. What happened was really unintentional.
Jimmy Murdochs: Okay, kindly give me your documents please. Sir, were you able to double check the visa information in your passport?
Bong Voyage: Yes, I have checked my visa. All the information is correct.
Bong Voyage is asked to sit down for a few minutes as his visa packet is re-sealed.
Jimmy Murdochs: Here you go, sir. I have re-sealed your visa packet together with the immigrant data summary. Just a reminder: the yellow envelope should only be opened by the officer at the port of entry. You should open the plastic envelope from the courier service and check to review your visa for any errors. The visa packet, together with the passport and the CD from St Luke’s, should be hand carried when you travel to the U.S. Please also be mindful of your visa expiration date when making travel arrangements.
Bong Voyage: Yes, sir. Thank you very much for all this information and your help.
Jimmy Murdochs: Not a problem, sir. Also don’t forget to contact the Commission on Filipinos Overseas (CFO) for your Pre-departure Orientation Seminar (PDOS). All immigrants should attend the seminar or register with the CFO prior to travel, as it is mandated by the Philippine government. Information about the CFO is also included in the visa packet you received.
Bong Voyage: I have the CFO information and I will be coordinating with them for my seminar. Thank you once again and have a nice day.
Jimmy Murdochs: You’re welcome and have a nice day too.