Visa applicants should no longer expect same-day service at U.S. Consular posts worldwide as the Department of State (“DOS”) implements a new petition verification system. On November 7, 2007, the DOS sent a cable to all diplomatic and consular posts instructing them to utilize the Petition Information Management Service (“PIMS”) as the primary source of evidence in verifying a visa applicant’s petition approval information. Until recently, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (“USCIS”) emailed scanned copies of approved nonimmigrant petitions (i.e. H, L, O, P, Q, etc.) to Consular posts worldwide to confirm and facilitate the visa application review process by the Consular posts. Now, however, once a petition is approved by the Service Center, officers at the Kentucky Consular Center (“KCC”) will update the information related to the approved petition into a centrally managed database which will generate a PIMS Petition Report. The Consulates can access the PIMS Petition Report to verify petition information for visa applicants. The PIMS Petition Report contains a record of all petitioners recorded by the USCIS since 2004. For petitions approved prior to 2004, and which do not appear in the PIMS database, the Consular posts may have to send an inquiry to the KCC which will review and process the inquiry, typically within 24 hours. The DOS has stated that its KCC officers typically update new petition approval notices within 24 to 48 hours after receipt of approval information from the Service Centers, but there may be exceptional cases which require additional time.
While visa applicants should always be prepared for delays at Consular posts due to security checks and internal Consulate processing issues , those who have routinely received same-day service in the past can no longer expect the same results.
Visa applicants who are the applying for an L visa on the basis of a blanket L approval or who will be applying for an H-2B visa will be subject to the PIMS verification process as well. Since beneficiaries names do not appear on the blanket L approval notices and may not appear on H-2B approval notices in special circumstances, Consular posts have been instructed to simply confirm the status and details of the petition, not the beneficiary.
Visa applicants can continue to use the Form I-797, Approval Notices, to initiate the visa application process and schedule visa appointments. In addition, the Form I-797 will continue to serve as beneficiaries primary evidence of nonimmigrant status in the U.S.