The NVC is not your “attorney”, for free legal advice

The NVC is not your “attorney”, for free legal advice

Many people, desiring to save money, try to handle their immigration matters on their own, rather than hiring an attorney. They may have a relative in the Philippines being processed for an immigrant visa, and when they have any questions, they call or email the National Visa Center (NVC) for advice and guidance on what to do and how to do it.

While the NVC can be very helpful in processing immigrant visa cases, they are not your “attorney,” who can offer legal advice and/or represent you. Often, the public deals with the NVC’s “contractors” (similar to people at a call center who can answer routine questions, but it is really not their role or function to offer legal advice or represent you).

I know of many people who relied on the NVC for their immigration matter, but later on, their visa was refused at the Embassy. In one case, the family e-mailed the NVC, pointing out that one of their children was “aging out,” and sought assistance or guidance from the NVC in connection with the Child Status Protection Act (CSPA). The NVC e-mailed back, acknowledging the inquiry, and advising the case was “currently under review for applicability of the Child Status Protection Act.”

Thinking the NVC was acting on the case, the family sat back and waited for further word. Unfortunately, the CSPA requires that if a child is eligible, the child must “seek to acquire” a visa within one year. That is accomplished by filing certain documents within one year of visa availability. But because the family was relying on, or waiting for, the NVC’s further action, they did nothing else, and that year went by. The child was ultimately refused a visa at the Embassy because the child did not “seek to acquire” the visa within one year. The State Department upheld the denial, stating that e-mailing the NVC for assistance was not enough to satisfy the requirement.

My point is that if you want legal advice, it is always best to consult an attorney. The various governmental agencies are not there to provide legal advice and/or represent you. If you sit back and wait for a government agency’s advice, deadlines may be missed, and the government may not recognize your reliance on its advice as excusing you from compliance with the law.

For the people trying to “save money” by seeking “free” advice from the NVC, how do they now explain to their children who were left behind that they really got their money’s worth? If you have a legal problem, seek legal advice from an attorney.

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