Consular processing generally refers to any immigrant or non-immigrant applicant who is looking to secure a visa and travel to the United States. The consular process involves filing the necessary paperwork, such as a petition, with the USCIS. If you have your petition approved, it then goes to the National Visa Center (NVC), an agency of the State Department. From here, approved cases get case numbers and the NVC will notify applicants abroad when they can file certain DS paperwork and eventually come in for an actual visa appointment.

Due to the pandemic, however, the scheduling of new appointments is still backlogged, and the State Department has recently issued new figures and statistics regarding the current backlog. The last update was made for the month of November, and is available at the following link: https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/us-visas/visa-information-resources/visas-backlog.html.

Pending Interviews

If you click on the link, you will see that the State Department gives us three important figures as it relates to the current immigrant backlog (IV applicants). As a side note, this blog will only mention IV—Immigrant Visa applicants and does not apply to those seeking an H1-B or other non-immigrant visa.

The first number, approximately 490,000, is the number of IV applicants, no matter their country of origin, who have had an immigrant petition approved, completed DS online filing, paid their associated fees, and are now waiting for the State Department to schedule them an interview. This is what “documentarily complete” means.

The next figure, approximately 29,000, gives us an idea of how many IV interviews the State Department, in all of its consular sections around the world, can schedule in a given month. 

If you take the second figure above and subtract it from the original 490,000, you are left with the current number of IV applicants, who are also documentarily complete, and are still pending the scheduling of an interview after November, 2021. This is our third figure of approximately 461,000.

For reference, the NVC notes that in 2019, there was a smaller backlog of approximately 60,000 IV applicants that were pending the scheduling of an interview each month. This means that prior to the pandemic, an immigrant visa applicant might have had to wait 1-3 months to have a consular interview while currently the pandemic has exacerbated this backlog and has increased it up to 12 months for some individuals. The current backlog does not necessarily mean that IV applicants will absolutely have to wait a year for their visa interview, but it does provide a worst case scenario snapshot of how much time an IV applicant might have to wait.

Keywords
National Visa Center Consular Processing