PIMS Related Delays in Visa Applications

The American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) was invited to tour the U.S. Department of State (DOS) Kentucky Consular Center (KCC). The tour participants were provided with the opportunity to ask questions related to the Petition Information Management Service (PIMS), which is used by U.S. consulates abroad to make decisions in certain visa application matters. This summary should prove useful to MurthyDotCom and MurthyBulletin readers trying to navigate through delays related to PIMS.

Background: What is PIMS?

As long-time readers may recall from our December 7, 2007 NewsBrief, PIMS Verification Required for Certain Nonimmigrant Visas, before issuance of visas (often referred to as visa stamps) in the H, L, O, P, and Q nonimmigrant categories, U.S. consular officers must first consult a PIMS report. This report is in the Consolidated Consular Database (CCD) and, in order for a visa to be issued, the report must verify that the underlying H, L, O, P, or Q petition has been approved by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). Following is a discussion of some of the suggestions related to PIMS as reported by AILA.

Submission of Duplicate Copy of Petition to USCIS

When PIMS was first implemented, many types of petition approvals were not automatically forwarded to the KCC for entry into PIMS. Initially, only petitions approved for consular notification were entered into PIMS. Thus, many other filings, including petition amendments, petition extensions, and petitions for changes of status were not automatically forwarded to the KCC for entry into PIMS.

Since the beneficiaries of such petitions often need to apply for visas abroad at some point during the validity of their petitions, however, the USCIS and DOS subsequently agreed to a system whereby approvals of such petitions are forwarded to the KCC for entry into PIMS. This occurs when a petitioner submits a duplicate original petition, including original signatures and all attachments, to USCIS with the initial filing. Along with this duplicate petition, the KCC has indicated that it is wise to also include a separate, brightly-colored coversheet with clear identification that the copy is for PIMS and a direction to send it to the KCC.

Carry Approval Documents to the Visa Interview

Sometimes the PIMS record may be either incomplete or inaccurate, and may not contain a copy of the nonimmigrant visa petition. Thus, even with the PIMS system, applicants are encouraged, and generally expected, to bring to the visa interview their original petition approval notices and complete copies of the nonimmigrant visa petitions filed on their behalf.

Applicants and their attorneys should follow up with the consular posts on visa applications that, due to PIMS issues, are still under consideration after the interviews. They should ensure that the CCD is consulted to verify that issues related to PIMS have been resolved.

Possible Visa Issuance Delays Based on PIMS

Visa applicants are frequently told that their applications are undergoing further administrative processing, but are not told whether this further processing is related to PIMS or an unrelated matter. It may be helpful for such applicants to specifically ask at their visa interviews whether the PIMS report shows that the petition has been approved. Although this will not help speed up the issuance of the visa, it will help applicants narrow down the reason/s for visa processing delay.


We at the Murthy Law Firm would like to express our thanks to AILA and the KCC for providing advice related to PIMS. It is our hope that, with this information, visa applicants will avoid many PIMS related visa delays. MurthyDotCom and MurthyBulletin readers are reminded, however, to allow sufficient time for potential delays when applying for visas of any type at a U.S. consular post abroad.

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Disclaimer: The information provided here is of a general nature and may not apply to any specific or particular circumstance. It is not to be construed as legal advice nor presumed indefinitely up to date.