The DOS recently provided additional information about the Petition Information Management System (PIMS) which was recently rolled out at all of the U.S. Consulates around the world upon short notice. Through the PIMS process, Petitions for a Nonimmigrant Worker (Form I-129) requesting consular notification are sent to the DOS’ Kentucky Consulate Center (KCC) after approval by the USCIS. The KCC then enters key data from the Petition into PIMS and scans key documents such as the Form I-129, the employer support letter and identification documents of the Beneficiary into the system. The KCC also performs some database checks for evidence of fraud, violations or other adverse history or records (including SEVIS violations) and enters such information into PIMS. When a consulate is ready to grant a nonimmigrant visa, it must confirm the status of the underlying petition in PIMS prior to issuance. If PIMS cannot confirm the validity of the petition even though the applicant has presented the original approval notice, the consulate must email the KCC for further information about the petition. The KCC then confirms the information about the petition in the USCIS system. The consulate cannot issue the nonimmigrant visa until it can confirm the validity of the petition in PIMS. Because the USCIS does not forward information about change of status or extension of stay petitions to the KCC, consulates have most often been contacting the KCC for further information to confirm the validity of these petitions prior to being able to issue nonimmigrant visas to the beneficiaries of these petitions. The DOS has stated that it is responding to inquiries from the consulates within 48 hours. However, the DOS did indicate that it has heard of infrequent reports of longer waits for PIMS confirmations. As stated in our firm’s previous Immigration Update dated November 26, 2007, applicants for nonimmigrant visas should not expect same-day (or even two-day) processing of nonimmigrant visa applications due to the new PIMS procedure and other security checks. The DOS is considering developing a system whereby applicants can check the status of their petitions in PIMS prior to applying for a nonimmigrant visa. However, the DOS has not yet begun to develop such a system.
Additional information about the PIMS system and its effects on the issuance of nonimmigrant visas will be contained in our firm’s future Immigration Updates when it becomes available.