How long is NVC processing?

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The Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) limits the number of employment based immigrant visas that are issued each year based on the EB preference category. Each preference category is assigned a number of immigrant visas. In addition, there is a limit to the percentage of immigrant visas that can be allotted to each country in a year. Since the demand for immigrant visas is higher than the limited number and greater for some countries, an immigrant visa ‘waiting list’ forms. The foreign individual’s place on the ‘waiting list’ is determined by their ‘priority date’. The ‘priority date’ is either the date the petition was properly filed with the USCIS or the date the labor certification application was accepted for processing by the Department of Labor (when a labor certification is required). As such, the foreign individual’s employment based preference category, ‘priority date’ and country of origin will determine the time the Immigrant Petition will remain at the NVC until an immigrant visa number becomes available. The wait time can be years. Once an immigrant visa number becomes available, then the NVC requires approximately 2-3 months to process all documentation and forward it to the U.S. embassy or consulate.