The processing time to obtain a marriage-based green card can vary significantly based on several factors, including your individual circumstances, the USCIS processing times at the specific service center handling your application, and any potential delays or requests for additional information. Here is a general idea of the different stages and timeframes involved in the process:
- I-130 Petition Processing: After your U.S. citizen or permanent resident spouse files Form I-130 (Petition for Alien Relative) on your behalf, the processing time can vary. On average, it might take around 7 to 24 months to receive a decision on the I-130 petition. However, processing times can be longer or shorter depending on factors such as USCIS workload and the specific service center.
- I-485 Application Processing: If you’re adjusting status within the U.S., the processing time for Form I-485 (Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status) can take around 8 to 14 months, or even longer in some cases. This time frame includes the time needed for biometrics (fingerprinting) and the potential waiting period for an interview.
- Interview Appointment: If USCIS requires an interview as part of the I-485 application process, you may need to wait for an interview appointment. The time between filing the I-485 and attending the interview can vary depending on USCIS scheduling.
- I-751 (If Applicable): If your marriage is less than two years old at the time of approval, you’ll need to file Form I-751 (Petition to Remove Conditions on Residence) to remove the conditions on your green card. The processing time for I-751 petitions can vary, but it’s generally in the range of 12 to 20 months.
It’s important to note that USCIS processing times are subject to change, and the pandemic and other factors can impact processing times. To get the most accurate and up-to-date processing time information, visit the USCIS website’s “Check Case Processing Times” tool and select the appropriate form and service center.
Additionally, if you’re going through consular processing (applying for the green card from outside the U.S.), the timeline can be different, and it will depend on the processing times of the U.S. embassy or consulate in your home country.
For the most accurate and current information on processing times and the specific requirements of your case, it’s recommended to consult the official USCIS website, as well as potentially seek advice from an immigration attorney to ensure a smooth and timely application process.
How can I expedite the processing of my green card?
Expedited processing of a green card application is generally reserved for cases that meet specific criteria and demonstrate a genuine need for faster processing. While it’s not guaranteed and is at the discretion of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), you can request expedited processing if you believe you have a valid reason. Here’s how you might proceed:
- Determine Eligibility: Review the USCIS guidelines to understand if your situation qualifies for expedited processing. USCIS typically considers certain urgent situations, such as medical emergencies, humanitarian reasons, or specific employment-related needs.
- Prepare Evidence: Compile strong evidence that supports your request for expedited processing. This evidence should clearly demonstrate why your case merits expedited handling.
- Contact USCIS: If you believe you have a valid reason for expedited processing, you can contact USCIS directly through the USCIS Contact Center or by reaching out to the USCIS field office handling your case. Be prepared to provide detailed information about your situation.
- Request Expedited Processing: You can formally request expedited processing by submitting Form I-907, Request for Premium Processing Service, if applicable to your case. This form is typically used for certain employment-based cases and involves an additional fee.
- Explain Urgent Situation: Clearly explain the urgent situation or compelling need that warrants expedited processing in a cover letter accompanying your application or request. Be concise and provide all relevant details.
- Supporting Documentation: Include any supporting documentation that helps substantiate your need for expedited processing. For example, medical records, letters from employers, or other relevant documents can strengthen your case.
- Monitor and Follow Up: Once you’ve submitted your request, closely monitor your case status through the USCIS Case Status Online tool. If you don’t receive a response within a reasonable time, consider following up with USCIS to check on the status of your expedited request.
- Be Patient: Keep in mind that expedited processing is not guaranteed, and USCIS will carefully review each request on a case-by-case basis. If your request is denied, you can continue with regular processing.
- Consult an Attorney: If you’re unsure about whether your situation qualifies for expedited processing or need assistance with the process, consider consulting an immigration attorney. They can help assess your case, advise on the best approach, and guide you through the expedited request process.
Remember that expedited processing is meant for exceptional situations, and not all requests will be granted. It’s important to provide clear and compelling evidence that justifies your need for expedited handling. Be prepared to be patient and to continue with regular processing if your expedited request is denied.
What to do if my marriage green card takes more time than average?
If your marriage green card application is taking longer than the average processing time, there are several steps you can take to address the situation:
- Check Processing Times: Visit the USCIS website and use the “Check Case Processing Times” tool to verify the current processing times for your specific form and service center. Make sure your case falls within the normal processing time range before becoming concerned.
- Monitor Case Status: Keep a close eye on the status of your case using the USCIS Case Status Online tool. This tool provides real-time updates on the status of your application.
- Contact USCIS: If your case has been pending longer than the average processing time, consider contacting USCIS to inquire about the status of your application. You can use the USCIS Contact Center or contact the USCIS field office that is handling your case.
- Gather Supporting Documents: If you need to contact USCIS, gather any relevant supporting documents related to your application. Having this information on hand can help you provide accurate details about your case.
- Request an InfoPass Appointment: If you don’t receive a satisfactory response from USCIS through phone or email, consider scheduling an InfoPass appointment to visit a local USCIS office in person. This can allow you to discuss your case with an immigration officer.
- Check for Requests for Evidence (RFEs): Make sure you haven’t missed any communication from USCIS, especially Requests for Evidence (RFEs) or notices asking for additional information. Respond promptly to any such requests to avoid delays.
- Seek Assistance: If you’re experiencing significant delays and are concerned about the status of your application, consider seeking assistance from an immigration attorney. They can help assess your situation, communicate with USCIS on your behalf, and provide guidance on potential next steps.
- Consider Expedited Processing (If Applicable): If you have a legitimate reason for expedited processing, consider submitting a request for expedited handling. However, keep in mind that expedited processing is typically reserved for urgent situations and is at USCIS’s discretion.
- Document Your Efforts: Keep records of all communication and efforts you make to resolve the delay. This documentation can be helpful if you need to escalate the matter or seek legal assistance.
- Stay Patient: While delays can be frustrating, it’s important to remain patient and continue to follow the proper channels for inquiries. Remember that USCIS processing times can vary based on a range of factors.
- Plan for Contingencies: If your current immigration status is expiring, make sure to have a plan in place to maintain lawful presence in the U.S., such as extensions or renewals, if applicable.
- Stay Informed: Stay informed about any updates or changes in USCIS procedures or policies that might affect your case.
Remember that USCIS processing times can be affected by various factors, including changes in workload, staffing, and administrative procedures. While it’s natural to be concerned about delays, following the appropriate steps and seeking assistance when necessary can help you navigate the situation effectively.