28 Feb 2022 Confusion Over Scheduling U.S. Embassy Interviews
With the pandemic thankfully in decline, and U.S. embassies around the world slowly reopening, there are so many families anxious to have their cases finally scheduled for interviews, so they can have their immigrant visas issued and travel to America.
It has been about two years since people’s immigration cases have but been put on hold, either because of COVID shutdowns, lockdowns, Trump’s immigration ban, and reduced staffing at the National Visa Center (NVC) and embassies.
Family members are contacting the NVC and the Embassy about their interviews, but the instructions are vague and confusing, leading to more frustration. In this article, I will discuss the latest developments in connection with scheduling Embassy interviews, and point out conflicting, confusing, and even contradictory instructions provided by the NVC and Embassy.
First, even if a person’s priority date is current, they will not be queued or scheduled for interview unless the case is “documentarily qualified”. This means the NVC has received all the documents they requested and all the fees have been paid, and the case is simply waiting for an interview appointment. In many situations, a person’s priority date may be current, but they have not yet submitted all the forms or paid the required fees so their case will not be scheduled for interview. Therefore, make sure you receive confirmation from NVC that your case is documentarily qualified in order to be queued up for interview.
However, when people contact the NVC and the Embassy, they sometimes receive contradictory instructions and emails. For example, the Embassy may advise people that their case or petition is still at the NVC, and that the NVC is in the process of collecting all required fees and supporting documents. According to the Embassy, “NVC will not forward the visa petition to us [the Embassy] until they have scheduled a time for the applicant to be interviewed.” In other words, the Embassy is waiting for the NVC to schedule the interview, and the person should contact the NVC for additional information.
If a person contacts the NVC, they receive the opposite information from the Embassy. The NVC advises the case is documentarily qualified, meaning the NVC has already collected all required fees and supporting documents. The NVC advises that it is the Embassy which “tells NVC when they hold interviews, and we [NVC] fill the appointment date as the cases become qualified.” Accordingly, the case “will stay at NVC until an appointment is scheduled [presumably by the Embassy], and then we [NVC] will send it to the U.S. Embassy.” In other words, the NVC is waiting for the Embassy to tell the NVC when to schedule the appointment, and the Embassy advises it is waiting for the NVC to schedule the appointment.
It also appears the U.S. Embassy in Manila has temporarily stopped accepting or scheduling cases from the NVC, because it is already overwhelmed or backlogged with the existing cases that were put on hold during the two years of the global COVID pandemic. In other words, the Embassy already has so many pending cases that all the appointment slots are filled.
It is possible for some cases to be expedited for various reasons or emergencies. But it would be nice if the Embassy could reduce its backlog either by increasing its staffing and interview slots, or at least having the NVC and the Embassy give clear instructions, versus each telling applicants to contact the other agency.
I know this information may not be encouraging, but I wanted to inform people that they are not alone. Thousands of other people are just as confused and frustrated and eager as they are to have their interview scheduled. We will continue posting news and developments as they occur.
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