The amount of time it takes for the National Visa Center to contact immigrant visa applicants varies based on the type of visa, according to the National Visa Center website. Waits are often lengthy and well over 12 months.
Once the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services approves a petition for an immigrant visa, it assigns a priority date to the application and then forwards it to the National Visa Center, the Office of Visa Services explains. Certain categories of immigrant visas are processed immediately, in which case the applicant usually gets a response within 30 days. Other visa categories have yearly allowances that determine the cut-off date for processing. An applicant's priority date must meet the most recent cut-off date before the National Visa Center begins processing and contacts him. The Office of Visa Services publishes a monthly visa bulletin designed to help applicants determine when the agency is likely to begin processing their applications.