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Immigration Corner | What is the next step?

Published:Tuesday | December 7, 2021 | 12:06 AM
Dahlia Walker-Huntington
Dahlia Walker-Huntington

Dear Mrs Walker-Huntington,

A petition was filed by a sister in the United States for her sisters and their families in Jamaica. The petition was approved and is now with the NVC (National Visa Center). A letter was received from the NVC advising of the creation of the case. It is now one year since it is with the NVC and they have received no communication.

Can you say if the case is awaiting payment of fees, submission of documents, etc, for it to be processed, or is this the usual wait time before NVC gets in touch with them? How can they find out the status of the case, and what is the next step? Thank you, and kind regards.


Dear JW,

An important piece of information is missing from your letter, that is – when did the American citizen petition for her siblings in Jamaica? This is important because the date of filing becomes the priority date on the filing once US Citizenship & Immigration Services (USCIS) approves the initial filing. The siblings have to wait until the priority date becomes current, i.e., when a visa is available in their category for them to be processed and scheduled for an interview.

The sibling category (F4) is the category that takes the longest, although there are 65,000 visas available in that category each year. In December 2021, visas are available for persons with priority date earlier than March 22, 2007 – which means it is currently taking more than 14 years for a visa to become available to beneficiaries in the sibling category.

Once the initial petition is approved by USCIS, the file is transferred to the NVC in preparation for the second phase of the processing. That second phase does not begin until about a year before a visa becomes available. During that second phase the visa fees are paid, and all the necessary documents and application forms are submitted to the NVC. It is therefore important for the siblings in Jamaica to note their priority date and see if the date has passed. The US Department of State provides a monthly update (‘Visa Bulletin’) of which priority dates are current in the various visa categories, and it is available at Once the priority dates are determined, the siblings should check the Visa Bulletin to see how far they are away from a visa being available.

If the priority dates have passed, the siblings should contact the NVC regarding the status of their cases; if not, they should probably wait until they are contacted. But keep monitoring the Visa Bulletin.

Dahlia A. Walker-Huntington, Esq, is a Jamaican-American attorney who practises immigration law in the United States; and family, criminal and international law in Florida. She is a diversity and inclusion consultant, mediator, and former special magistrate and hearing officer in Broward County, Florida.