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Immigrant Visa Numbers Overview, Plus How to Contact the National Visa Center and Get the US Visa Bulletin

Green Cards - Immigrant Visas

National Visa Center Immigrant Visa Numbers US Visa Bulletin

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THIS ARTICLE

What is an Immigrant Visa Number?
Obtaining an immigrant visa number is an essential step in the immigration process to obtain a Green Card, and it means that an immigrant visa has been assigned to you.

The immediate relatives of U.S. citizens, which includes parents, spouses and unmarried children under the age of 21, do not have to wait for an immigrant visa number to become available once the immigrant visa petition filed for them is approved. An immigrant visa number will be immediately available for immediate relatives of U.S. citizens.

Other relatives and all people who want to become immigrants and obtain Green Cards based on employment must wait for a visa to become available from the US State Department's National Visa Center according to the preference system.  U.S. law limits the number of immigrant visa numbers that are available every year, so you may not immediately get an immigrant visa number from the National Visa Center after your immigrant visa petition is approved. In some cases, several years could pass between the time the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) approves your immigrant visa petition and the State Department's National Visa Center gives you an immigrant visa number. Because U.S. law also limits the number of immigrant visas available by country, you may have to wait longer for an immigrant visa number to be provided by the National Visa Center if you come from a country with a high demand for U.S. immigrant visas / Green Cards.

To estimate when an immigrant visa number might be available for you from the National Visa Center, see the discussion below about the US Visa Bulletin.


How Do I Apply for an Immigrant Visa Number from the National Visa Center?
You do not directly apply for an immigrant visa number from the National Visa Center. In most cases, your relative or employer sends a visa petition to the USCIS for you (the beneficiary) to become an immigrant and obtain a Green Card. (Certain applicants such as priority workers, investors, certain special immigrants, and diversity immigrants can petition on their own behalf.) USCIS will tell the person who filed the visa petition (the petitioner) if the visa petition is approved. USCIS will then send the approved visa petition to the Department of State's National Visa Center, where it will remain until an immigrant visa number is available.

The National Visa Center will notify you (the beneficiary of the application) when the visa petition is received and again when an immigrant visa number is available. You do not need to contact the National Visa Center, unless you change your address or there is a change in your personal situation that may affect your eligibility for an immigrant visa / Green Card.


Contact the National Visa Center by Email

You may contact the National Visa Center by email at: NVCINQUIRY@state.gov. For best service:

  • Put your National Visa Center Case Number in the subject line of your email

  • Provide the applicant’s name and date of birth and the petitioner’s name and date of birth

  • If you are an attorney, include the name of the law office requesting the information from the National Visa Center

  • If the petition is employment-based, include the company/organizational name

  • Reference only one case per email to the National Visa Center


Contact the National Visa Center by Phone

You may also contact the National Visa Center by phone at: (603) 334-0700. Operators are available to assist you Monday through Friday from 7:30 AM to 12:00 AM (EST). At the same number, an automated recorded message system is available twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week to answer National Visa Center case status inquiries.


Contact the National Visa Center in Writing

You may contact the National Visa Center in writing as well.

Specific questions about a National Visa Center case should be sent to:

National Visa Center
Attn: WC
31 Rochester Ave. Suite 200
Portsmouth, NH 03801-2915

Forms, documents, and photographs should be sent to:

National Visa Center
Attn: CMR
31 Rochester Ave. Suite 100
Portsmouth, NH 03801-2914


Use the US Visa Bulletin to Find Out When an Immigrant Visa Number Will Be Available from the National Visa Center
The National Visa Center places each approved visa petition in chronological order according to the date the visa petition was filed. The date the visa petition was filed is known as your priority date. The US State Department publishes a Visa Bulletin that shows the month and year of the visa petitions that the National Visa Center is working on by country and preference category. You can estimate of the amount of time it will take to get an immigrant visa number from the National Visa Center by comparing your priority date with the date listed in the Visa Bulletin. For instance, suppose you look under your country and preference category, and see that the National Visa Center is working on applications it received in May 1996. If your priority date is May 1998, then you may have to wait several more years for an immigrant visa number to become available from the National Visa Center.


Get the US Visa Bulletin Online

Access the US Visa Bulletin online at the US State Department.


Get the US Visa Bulletin by Email
To subscribe to the State Department’s email list for the Visa Bulletin, send an email to: listserv@calist.state.gov, and in the message body type: Subscribe Visa-Bulletin First name/Last name (example: Subscribe Visa-Bulletin John Smith).

To be removed from the Visa Bulletin, send an email to: listserv@calist.state.gov, and in the message body type: Signoff Visa-Bulletin.


Get the US Visa Bulletin by Phone

You may call (202) 663-1541, for a 24-hour recording that gives the monthly priority dates that are currently being processed. The recording is updated in the middle of each month with information on cut-off dates for the following month.


Get the US Visa Bulletin by Fax
From your fax, dial (202) 647-3000. Follow the prompts and enter code 1038 to have the Visa Bulletin faxed to you.


Get the US Visa Bulletin by Mail
To be placed on the Visa Bulletin mailing list (or to change an address), write to:

    Visa Bulletin
    Visa Office
    Department of State
    Washington, D.C. 20522-0106

Only addresses within the U.S. postal system may be placed on the mailing list. When reporting changes or corrections of address, include a recent mailing label. The Postal Service does NOT automatically notify the Visa Office of address changes. Obtaining the Visa Bulletin by mail is a much slower option than any of the alternatives mentioned above.


Contact the US Visa Bulletin by Email

You may submit questions regarding the US Visa Bulletin or related items by email to: VISABULLETIN@STATE.GOV. This address cannot be used to subscribe to the Visa Bulletin.

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