Members of the American Immigration Lawyers Association (“AILA”) have reported several new or additional problems with information received from The National Visa Center (“NVC”). AILA members report receiving letters in error from the NVC. Some letters indicate that proceedings to terminate the immigrant visa application have commenced. Others state that the application is being terminated pursuant to INA §203(g) for failure to contact the NVC within one year of notification of the availability of a visa—even when the applicant or the attorney has, in fact, been in contact with the NVC within the one-year period. While §203(g) does provide for reinstatement of the visa registration if the applicant can establish that the failure to apply for a visa within one year was “due to circumstances beyond the alien’s control,” affected individuals need not worry about pursuing that avenue in connection with the present erroneous issuance of notices to terminate proceedings.
Indeed, as of July 30, 2015, AILA updated the information on its website with news from the NVC that it is “correcting the issue and is sending affected applicants a follow-up email to let them know that their case is still in process, and that they should disregard the email received on July 29, 2015.” Therefore, it appears that affected persons need not take any remedial action at this time, however AILA has said it has requested further clarification from the government on the matter. Those who have been affected and do not receive the email directing them to disregard the termination notice, should contact the NVC as soon as possible to ensure that your case does not fall through the cracks.
A similar issue arose last year and was addressed at the November 2, 2014, AILA/Department of State (“DOS”) Liaison Meeting with the NVC (meeting minutes available here). At that time, the notices of termination of immigrant visa applications were likewise sent by NVC in error. The difference at that time was, the NVC indicated that it was unaware of such erroneous termination letters, thereby putting affected applicants in a much more difficult position of having to correct NVC errors, rather than simply being notified that NVA acknowledges its error and is proactively working to correct it.
Applicants must remember that it is not a requirement that the individual actually complete the immigrant visa processing within one year, rather, that he or she communicates with the NVC at least once per year while processing continues. As a general rule, anyone going through this process should maintain stringent records of all communications with the NVC, including but not limited to, the payment of immigrant visa fees, records of any calls, and all email communications with the agency.
In June, GT reported on the pervasive DOS system glitch that caused failures and the unavailability of visa services worldwide. A modernization overhaul seems to be long overdue at the DOS.