Nothing has been happening on my petition all these years!

Nothing has been happening on my petition all these years!


Dear Atty. Gurfinkel:


I am a U.S. citizen, and petitioned my sister and her family in 1995.  It has now been almost 25 years, and nothing seems to be happening on the case.  Should I just keep waiting until the USCIS or NVC contacts me?  Or is there something else I can be doing now?

Very truly yours,



Dear DG:

In your case, the priority date on your sister’s petition is already “current,” meaning a visa is available.  You should have already received notices from the NVC to submit forms and pay fees.  If a visa is available (or priority date is current) and you don’t take action within one year of visa availability, the case could be terminated, the file shredded, and the priority date will be lost.

A person’s “priority date” is determined based on the date the family-based petition was filed.  For most family petitions, it could take from 3 to 25 years before a visa is available.  That is why it is important for people to monitor the priority date on their petition in relation to the monthly Visa Bulletin.

Until a person’s priority date is current, there’s not much you can do except wait.  However, you have to make sure the petition was APPROVED.  I know of many cases where a petition was filed, but the family received nothing further from the USCIS and just sat on the case “waiting.”  In some situations, they had moved but had not notified the USCIS of their new address.  A request for evidence (RFE) was served and sent to the old address, giving the person 87 days to respond.  They never responded and the petition was denied.  Therefore, it is very important to make sure that once a petition is filed that you receive an approval notice.

Once the priority date is close to becoming current, the NVC typically starts sending out notices and forms to the last address they have on file.  If the petitioner or beneficiary has moved, but has not notified the NVC of their new address, the NVC will send these notices (with one year deadlines) to the old address.  If no response is received within one year, the case is terminated.

In your situation, since the priority date is already current, you definitely should not just sit back and wait.  Instead you should quickly take steps to determine what is going on with your case and have the NVC process the paperwork, so your sister can be queued up for immigrant visa interview.  I would suggest you consult with an attorney who can figure out what is going on, determine the status of the case and get the case back on track before it is canceled or shredded.



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