We are often being asked, "How long does it take to get a green card?" More often than not, the answer is "it depends."
The Green Card Definition
The “greencard” (often used interchangeably with “green card”) is a widely recognized informal name for a lawful US permanent resident immigration status. There are several green card categories, including family, employment, investment, lottery, and political/asylum. Here is a detailed discussion on the green card definition.
Green Card Processing Times
In order to understand the green card processing times, one needs to understand all the processes that occur between the submission of the application and the issuance of the US permanent resident card. They involve USCIS review of the application, verification of the information, candidate biometrics and even green card interview. This is the active phase of the green card processing by USCIS. Depending on the green card category, it may run between three and twelve months. However, there is a passive part of the process, which involves waiting for one’s number in line. It occurs because the U.S. immigration law caps the number of immigration visas issued per year. Thus, as one’s application comes in, it enters the queue, and that application’s green card is issued only then, when all other applications in front of it have been processed. This first come first serve processing creates backlogs, which can run for decades. The backlogs are the true predictors of the processing times. In addition to the USCIS processing times, there may be preparation period (e.g., employment-based green card labor department certification and job advertisement periods), which occurs before the green card application is submitted.
Green Card Category Processing Times
Below is the brief overview of the green card categories and their processing times – these are author’s estimates based on the analysis of wiki articles and monitoring of immigration forums.
Green card application process is hard, complex and may be expensive. To ensure this process is as efficient as possible, please visit www.doityourselfgreencard.com to download Green Card by Marriage guide and subscribe to our newsletter, or www.doityourselfgreencard.com/blog for further discussion of immigration and green card issues.