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!