Potential Termination of Inactive Immigrant Visa Petitions

Under certain circumstances, the U.S. Department of State (DOS) has the authority to terminate an immigrant visa registration and revoke the underlying immigrant visa petition if the priority date is current and the case has remained inactive for a specific duration. The following is an overview of the conditions under which this can occur.

Determining When a Case can be Deemed “Inactive”

The Foreign Affairs Manual (FAM) lists the four situations in which an applicant’s case may be considered inactive, and therefore subject to termination:

  • The applicant does not apply for an immigrant visa within one year of receiving the immigrant visa appointment letter or other notice of visa availability.
  • The applicant fails to respond to the appointment notice included with the immigrant visa appointment package and fails to take further action on the case within one year of the scheduled interview.
  • The applicant is refused a visa at the immigrant visa interview under section 221(g) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) and then fails to submit evidence within one year intended to overcome the basis of the 221(g) refusal.
  • The applicant does not comply with the follow-up instruction package for immigrant visa applicants or log into the applicant’s consular electronic application center (CEAC) account within one year.

These provisions apply to most categories of immigrant visa applicants, including applicants who are immediate relatives, family-sponsored immigrants, and employment-based immigrants who have received notification that an immigrant visa is available.

If Notified of Termination, Applicant Has One Year to Attempt Reinstatement

If an applicant’s pending case meets any of the above criteria, the consulate will mail a notice of termination of registration letter to the applicant at the address on file and to any third party authorized by the applicant to receive such notices (e.g., attorney of record). At that point, the applicant has one year to establish that the failure to appear within the first year was due to circumstances beyond the individual’s control, such as a medical emergency or natural disaster. If the applicant succeeds in getting the case reinstated, the case may resume. If the applicant fails to provide sufficient basis for registration within one year of the notice of termination of registration – including a situation in which the applicant does not respond at all to the notice – the consulate will send a final notice of cancellation to the applicant.


When applying for an immigrant visa, it is crucial that the applicant respond in a timely manner to inquiries from the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), National Visa Center (NVC), and/or the consulate. This is especially true when an immigrant visa is available (i.e., the priority date is current).


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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.