This is a great question about an issue that, unfortunately, happens far more than it should. By way of background, the official priority date which is assigned to your I-140 is established by USCIS. That doesn’t mean the National Visa Center (NVC) might not make a mistake when it records your priority date, but the party officially responsible for establishing your priority date is USCIS. Unfortunately, this often turns into a major headache. The NVC will not take any action on your case while it believes your priority date is not current, so getting the date corrected as quickly as possible is very important.

The first things to do is figure out whether USCIS has your priority date correct. Check your I-140 approval notice and see if it has the correct priority date.

Your Priority Date is Wrong on Your I-140 Approval Notice

If your priority date is wrong on your I-140 Approval Notice, it is up to USCIS to fix this. And, only USCIS can fix it. Which means you have to figure out where your file is. If you have received correspondence from the NVC, then your file has been sent from USCIS to the NVC and it has to be sent back in order to be corrected. This can happen with any case but most often it happens when USCIS fails to recapture the priority date for a new case.

It is important to note that USCIS will only discuss your I-140 with the employer who filed the petition, or the attorney who prepared and filed the I-140. USCIS will not speak with the beneficiary of the petition (the employee). In addition to everything else you need to do, you need to get the employer or attorney to contact USCIS to get the date corrected.

Buckle your seatbelts and get ready for a long ride if USCIS has made the mistake. Getting your file sent from the NVC back to USCIS, then getting your priority date corrected, then getting your case sent back to the NVC is a horrible process that can take months (as many as four to six months). Unfortunately, no matter what you tell the NVC, if the priority date on the I-140 approval notice in their file is wrong, they will not and cannot take any action to correct it, no matter what you send them. They only work off the paperwork sent to them by USCIS.

Also, getting USCIS to issue a corrected approval notice does not automatically correct the problem. If USCIS issues a corrected approval notice and sends it to the NVC without the file, it will often not be placed in the file and your case will continue to linger because the NVC thinks your priority date is not current. The file normally needs to go from the NVC back to USCIS in order for the corrected approval notice to ultimately make its way back to the NVC.

If the file has been sent to the NVC, the first thing you want to do is get the file sent back to USCIS. Start by contacting the NVC about sending your case back, then follow up with USCIS to get the priority date corrected. Don’t be surprised if this requires a number of emails to get this to happen.

If you have not yet received any correspondence from the NVC, you will want to start with USCIS to see if you can get the approval notice corrected before the file is sent.

For the above reasons, it is extremely important that you check your I-140 Approval Notice the moment you receive it. If the priority date is wrong, contact USCIS immediately and let them know. Hopefully, you can get a new approval notice issued and put in the file before it is sent to the NVC. Files are normally sent to the NVC about a week or so after the I-140 is approved by USCIS. Moving quickly on this is a priority.

Contact USCIS by calling the 1-800 Customer Service number on your I-140 Approval Notice.

One of the ways to minimize the above problem is to make it as clear as possible when filing your I-140 that you want to recapture the priority date. Make sure the box regarding a prior approved petition has been checked and the relevant information about that petition provided. Also, include a sheet of brightly colored paper that says you want the priority date recaptured. Also, make sure your cover letter indicates this as well. You should also include a copy of the approval notice for prior petition.

Your Priority Date is Correct on Your I-140 Approval Notice But Wrong on Your NVC Correspondence

If your priority date is correct on your I-140 approval notice but incorrect on your NVC correspondence, this poses a much less complicated problem and should be much easier to resolve. You simply need to contact the NVC and let them know the date is wrong. You can do this because once the case reaches the NVC, it is now the employee’s case, and you can make the call or send the email. The public may submit inquiries to the NVC via e-mail at:

nvcinquiry@state.gov

In order to ensure a prompt response:

  • Provide the relevant NVC Case Number or CIS receipt number on the subject line of the e-mail.
  • Provide the applicant’s name and ate of birth, and the petitioner’s name and date of birth.
  • Provide the name of the law office requesting information.
  • Provide the name of the employer if the petition is employment based.
  • Refer to only one case per e-mail message.

Via Telephone

Customer Service Telephone Operators are available to respond to inquiries Monday through Friday from 8:30am until 12:00am (EST). Please call (603) 334-0700. Don’t be surprised if you have to call numerous times before the phone is answered. In mid-February of 2015, the NVC plans to implement an enhanced phone system that should be able to let you speak directly with an NVC representative about your case.

Via Post Mail

National Visa Center
Attn: WC
31 Rochester Avenue, Suite 200
Portsmouth, NH 03801-2915

You may want to use more than once method to make sure the NVC receives your communications.

Good luck! Getting priority dates corrected is one of the most frustrating things we do in our office!