16 Apr 2019 State Department reports many Filipino family-based visas go unclaimed, resulting in the case being shred and priority date lost
Recently, officials from the U.S. State Department discussed the monthly Visa Bulletin and the movement of priority dates. (A priority date is a person’s “place in line” for an immigrant visa, and is typically based on the date the petition was filed. The monthly Visa Bulletin reports which priority dates are now eligible to be queued up for immigrant visas and adjustment of status.)
Sometimes, it could take 20 years or more for a priority date to become current for Filipino family members, especially in the categories of married children of U.S. citizen (F-3) and brother and sister of U.S. citizen (F-4). State Department officials observed there has been a continuing low demand in these categories, despite a very large “pool” of applicants with approved petitions who have not yet acted on their case. In other words, there are many Filipinos whose priority dates are current and visas are available, but they are not coming forward to claim or apply for their visa.
Ordinarily, if a visa is available, but the person does not claim their visa within one year of being notified of its availability, their visa registration could be “terminated” and their file destroyed. If a case is terminated because of a person’s failure to timely pursue their visa, the priority date is also lost and the petition is gone! A new petition would need to be filed, and the person would get a brand-new priority date, meaning they may now have to wait another 20 years or more to be processed for their visas.
At the present time, visas are available in the F-3 and F-4 categories filed before 1996. That’s over 23 years ago! A lot could have changed since then, such as the family moving to a new address but neglecting to notify the National Visa Center (NVC) of their new address. Therefore, the only address the NVC has for the person is their original address from decades ago. The NVC will then send notices (with deadlines) to the old address. If the family moved to a new address years ago, the mail may not be forwarded to them anymore, and so they will not respond in time. In that case, the NVC could terminate the case and shred the file, resulting in the loss of the priority date.
Remember, it is your obligation to keep the NVC advised of your current address; it is not the job of the NVC to track you down. It’s your fault if documents are sent to your old address because you did not update your new address.
Perhaps that’s why the State Department is noting a “low demand” in Filipinos pursuing their visas despite a “very large pool of applicants with approved petitions,” because they may have moved and are not receiving the notices at their new address.
You should check the priority date on your petition and compare that date to the “current” priority dates. (I always post the most recent priority dates on my website www.gurfinkel.com and Facebook). If your priority date is already current, but you have not yet received any notification or forms from the NVC, don’t just sit there and do nothing. You may miss a critical deadline, resulting in the shredding of your case. I would also suggest that you seek the assistance of an attorney, who can quickly look into your case to make sure it is still on track, and didn’t fall between the cracks, especially if your priority date has been current for some time.
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