Immigration Records

Written by Patricia Tunstall
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Immigration records are kept in-house by each of the governmental agencies involved, but the National Visa Center (NVC) in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, is the repository of current and closed files on permanent immigration cases. When petitions for permanent residency are approved by the Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services (BCIS), the NVC retains them until they are ready for consulates abroad to process them. Petitions may remain at NVC for months or even years, depending on the visa category and the country of birth of the applicant.

When the petition is about to become current, it is forwarded to the appropriate U.S. embassy or consulate for processing. If the application is for adjusting status for a visitor already in the United States, the paperwork is sent to the proper BCIS office upon request. The NVC provides automated, recorded messages; operators are available during business hours (EST). This office is not open to the public, so access to its information is via phone.

Importance of Immigration Records

Regardless of the duty of immigration naturalization offices to retain immigration records, mistakes are made and files are lost. All petitioners and applicants should keep complete records of paperwork, phone calls, online contacts, names of persons spoken to, and adjudication of cases. Delays will still result if paperwork is lost, but at least the petitioner has proof of the steps of the processing.

Even after successful conclusions to applications for permanent residency or naturalization, immigration records should be kept in a safe place so they cannot be destroyed by fire or natural disasters. These documents are invaluable and may possibly prevent a miscarriage of justice in case of mistaken identity or lost paperwork. Residency and naturalization are too important and too costly not to be protected by good record keeping.


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lost records at USCIS

you are correct that mistakes are made by USCIS and files get lost. But one question, what does one do when you are trying to replace a stolen certificate of naturalization and USCIS has lost record of the naturalization and any file showing your legal status?