No More Sending Original Certificates and Documents to NVC for Consular Processing, Yay!

Applicants for immigrant visas can now send copies of important documents.

This may not be the most legally significant change to hit the immigration world, but if you are an applicant for an immigrant visa (the equivalent of a green card, for example through family) and you are applying from overseas, through a U.S. consulate, you should be very happy to hear that you will not be asked to send the National Visa Center (NVC) original marriage and divorce certificates, birth certificates, and so on.

The U.S. Department of State (DOS) announced that, as of November 12, 2014, applicants at nonelectronic processing posts will be asked to mail in photocopies, not originals, of their civil documents. (See "National Visa Center No Longer Collecting Original Civil Documents.") That's a huge relief to anyone who (rightly) worried that their key personal documents might get lost in the mail, or in some overstuffed government filing cabinet.

You will still need to bring the originals of the requested documents to your visa interview at the U.S. consulate, so that the consular officer can examine them for authenticity. (And you will still need to submit an original of the Form I-864 Affidavit of Support.)

This announcement does not apply to people working with consulates who have shifted to an electronic system of document collection, in which case you will need to scan and email the requested certificates and documents.