*Before I begin, a note: I edited the abbreviations entry to add a few terms that I'll be using today that I forgot to include before*
I thought today I'd give a general overview of the whole NVC process which Ben and I should get into in about 4 months (hoping for less though!).
To start, there are two options for NVC: regular snail mail or electronic processing. But to note, EP is mandatory in Ashgabat, Turkmenistan and optional for those in Montreal, Canada and Guangzhou, China. All other countries are unable to opt-in for EP at this time and have to send in documents by snail mail. Unless there's a sudden slow-down or major problems with EP between now and when we get to NVC, I believe Ben and I will be opting in for EP as it will be cheaper (no sending packages overnight to NVC) and possibly faster.
The NVC process is as follows:
1. Receive NOA2 from USCIS
2. Petition is sent by USCIS to NVC
3. NVC receives file
4. NVC assigns case number (different from USCIS number)
5. Petitioner and beneficiary's email addresses given to NVC operator
6. Email DS-3032
7. Wait for DS-3032 kit and IIN info for payment portal
8. Pay AoS bill once it appears in payment portal
9. When the bill appears as 'paid', send in I-864 forms and documents
10. Pay IV bill once it appears in payment portal
11. When that bill appears as 'paid', send in DS-230 forms and documents
12. Send in additional documents if an RFE is sent [note: if no RFE, then this step is skipped]
13. Wait for SIF
14. Call an operator to confirm that case is complete at NVC
15. Once case is complete, case is sent off to the embassy in the beneficiary's country
If the petitioner and beneficiary are proactive at this process and don't have any problems with RFE's, then one can be out of NVC very quickly, an average of 1-2 months. I even saw on the VJ forums that one person finished with NVC as little as 19 days (and that wasn't electronic processing).
If you have all forms ready ahead of time, it can really speed things up. Ben and I have most of our documents already ready. Just a few things here and there, but I'll go more in depth about these when I write up entries about the I-864 and DS-230 in the coming weeks.
I don't think it's mandatory by NVC, but it's highly recommended by all VJ members that you write your NVC case number on ALL documents. So, as soon as we get our case number, I'm going to write it on all the documents then I can finally scan them all. Ben will do the same with his documents and then send me by email his photocopies. I'll then set up the emails with all attached forms and documents, ready to send them to NVC once we can. I would just have to include the barcode/receipts once the payment portal shows the bills as paid.
If one isn't proactive, this process can take months. You don't need to always wait for NVC to email/mail you things or otherwise contact you. You should be the one calling up NVC and asking if your petition has been received, or if your case number has been assigned, or giving in your email addresses. The only actual waiting you have to do is for your IIN, your bills to appear as paid, and the case complete at the end. Everything else is dependent on the petitioner and beneficiary.