PIMS (Petition Information Management Service) is an electronic system that provides U.S. consular posts with notification of non-immigrant visa petition approvals. It is the only source of petition approval evidence used in the issuance of visas in H, L, O, P and Q non-immigrant visa classifications. A visa applicant may not be issued a visa until the consular post is able to verify the petition approval in PIMS. All non-immigrants process through the Kentucky Consular Center (KCC).

Prior to the issuance of an H, L, O, P or Q non-immigrant visa, a consular officer must verify that a petition approval is legitimate through the Consular Consolidated Database (CCD) in PIMS. The US State Department defines the CCD as a “data warehouse that holds current and archived data from the Bureau of Consular Affairs.”  An applicant may have an original Form I-797 approval notice, however, a visa will not be issued without verification from USCIS. The PIMS report allows consular officers to quickly and easily access and verify the USCIS petition approval through the CCD. This system has been set up so that the State Department can perform USCIS approval verification in order to be able to issue a visa.

In order for the KCC to enter the information into PIMS, the petitioner, a duplicate original petition containing original signatures along with all the additional documents should be included at the original time of filing. The same procedure should be followed for any responses to Request for Further Evidence (RFE). It is helpful to separate the original petition and the duplicate original with a distinct cover sheet noting that the duplicate copy should be forwarded to the Kentucky Consular Center. This would allow USCIS to forward a copy of the petition approval to the KCC, where it processes the documents for the consulates abroad. Petitions are sent regular mail and generally take 7 to 10 business days to reach the KCC. The KCC scans the duplicate into PIMS. US Embassies or Consulates access the petition through PIMS. Once the information is in PIMS, it is available electronically to all consulates and embassies.

Delays in Visa Issuance

At present, all consular posts must confirm petition approval, preferably in PIMS, prior to issuing a non-immigrant visa. Applicants are no longer permitted to demonstrate petition approval solely by presenting an original I-797 approval notice.

If at the time of the consulate visa interview the petition approval is not found through the CCD, the KCC will research and verify the petition approval, if requested. If it is not, the consulate will contact KCC to request upload of the information and this can take 3 to 5 days for the information to appear.

Applicants can be proactive and prior to arriving at the consulate, call ahead to inquire as to whether the case information is located in PIMS. Furthermore, all visa applicants should be prepared for potential visa processing delays and should plan their foreign trips with flexibility in the event that a delay may occur. It is advisable for the applicants to still take the original approval notice (I-797 approval notice) and a complete copy of the petition filing, as well as any RFE’s and associated responses to the visa interview.

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