What is Your Green Card Processing Timeline? How to Speed Up?

Editorial Team - HomeAbroad  by HomeAbroad Editorial Team
9 min read
Green Card Processing Times

If you’re an immigrant or foreigner and think of applying for a green card to live permanently in the United States, you’ll want to know about the process and timings.

In this blog post, we’ll break down different green card processing times relating to various programs so you have a better understanding of what to expect.

Average Green Card Processing Timeline – 2022

If you are an immigrant applying for a green card, you must be wondering, how long does it take to get a green card on average? Well, the actual time it takes can vary depending on your situation.

The entire process can take up to 2 years, but it typically takes about 10-12 months from start to finish. However, this can vary depending on the green card you are applying for and your circumstances.

For example, if you are applying for a green card through employment, the process may be faster than applying as a family member of a US citizen.

There are a few things that you can remember not to delay the process further:

  • Ensure you have all the required documentation before you begin the application process.
  • Work with an experienced immigration attorney who can help ensure that your application is complete and accurate.
  • Respond promptly to any requests for additional information from the USCIS.

What Is Green Card Process?

A foreign national can apply for permanent residence in the United States through the green card process. There are a few different ways to apply for a green card, but the most common is through employment or family sponsorship.

Family-based Green Card

To begin the family-based green card process, you will need to file a Form I-130 Petition for Alien Relative or a Form I-140 Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker with the USCIS.

Form I-130 Petition For Alien Relative: 10 to 12 Months

The Form I-130 Petition for Alien Relative is the first step in the family-based green card process. This petition is filed by a U.S. citizen or legal permanent resident on behalf of a foreign relative who wants to immigrate to the United States.

Suppose you are eligible to immigrate as a relative of a U.S. citizen or permanent resident through Form I-130. In that case, you may benefit from an immediate relative, which will help speed up the process.

Although you must be a U.S. citizen to qualify under this category, and your sponsored family member is:

  • Unmarried children under 21
  • Married children of any age, parents (if the sponsor is 21 or older)
  • Siblings (if the sponsor is 21 or older)

Once the Form I-130 petition is filed, it will take about 10-12 months as of 2022 for it to be processed. After it is approved, the immigrant will be able to apply for a green card through the family-based green card category. Therefore, if your parent relationship is excellent and sufficient, you can expect to get your green card within a year.

Form I-140 Petition For Alien Worker: 4 to 6 Months

The I-140 petition is filed by the employer, a U.S. citizen, on behalf of the immigrant worker. It establishes that the immigrant has the necessary skills and qualifications to perform a specific job in the United States.

The I-485, or Application to Adjustment of Status, is the final step in obtaining a green card which takes around 4 to 6 months to be completed by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).

Once the I-140 is approved to get a green card, the immigrant can file an I-485 Adjustment of Status. The I-485 can also be filed by certain family members of green card holders, such as spouses and children. Therefore, if you seek to obtain a green card through employment or family relationships, you will need to file both an I-140 and an I-485 petition.

Although the USCIS can also process the petition using “premium processing” (15 calendar daysfor an additional filing fee if needed. If you choose premium processing, additional thirty to sixty days might be added to the processing time or 15 calendar days.

Family-based green card applicants must complete the DS-260, which is the Immigration Visa Application, as part of their status adjustment process.

The information collected on the DS-260 is used to determine whether an applicant is eligible for a green card or immigrant visa. It can take up to 6-9 months to process from the National Visa Center. If the application gets approved, the applicant will be called for an interview at the U.S. Consular Post in their home country,

Marriage-Based Green Card: 11-13 Months

The spouse of a U.S. citizen or permanent resident can apply for a green card as an immediate relative. Immediate relatives are not subject to the number limitations and can generally apply for I-485 Adjustment of Status without any delays. However, you will need to meet the following requirements to obtain a green card through marriage:

  • You must be legally married to a U.S. citizen or permanent resident to obtain a marriage-based green card. You will also need to prove that your marriage is genuine and not just for immigration purposes. 
  • You must have entered the United States with a valid visa or be eligible for adjustment of status.
  • You must be admissible to the United States. You must not have any grounds for inadmissibility, such as criminal convictions, health concerns, or prior immigration violations.

But, you must complete the application process for Form I-130 Petition for Alien Relative before changing your status (I-485). It can take anywhere between 11-13 monthsdepending on the field office or service center in the U.S. state you have applied to.

You can even check case processing times to track the progress of your application. For more specific dates and times on your green card processing through USCIS.

Green Card Processing Times
Source: USCIS

If your spouse is a green card holder and currently lives in the United States, your case processing time will generally be 29-38 months. However, if your spouse is a green card holder and currently lives outside the United States, you will have to wait about 23-32 months.

What are the Green Card Processes Through Employment Visa?

EB-1 Program Processing: 8-10 Months

The EB-1, employment-based first preference immigrant visa, is available to aliens with:

  • Extraordinary ability in the sciences, arts, or business; outstanding professors and researchers; and certain multinational executives and managers.
  • The government generally takes eight months to process an EB-1 Visa. Once the EB-1 is approved, it typically takes six months to issue permanent residency.

EB-2 Program Processing: 10 Months to 2 Years

The EB-2, employment-based second preference immigrant visa, is available to aliens who are:

  • Members of the professions holding an advanced degree or its equivalent or who have a bachelor’s degree and at least five years of progressive work experience in the field
  • Aliens who are certified as having extraordinary ability in the sciences, arts, or business
  • Aliens who are members of the professions hold a bachelor’s degree and meet specific requirements.
  • EB-2 Processing
  • According to which service center is handling the Petition, it might take anywhere from 10 months to 2 years for the USCIS to examine a Form I-140 (also required for Marriage-Based Visas).
  • The process of acquiring an EB-2 visa will vary depending on the situation. If you are applying for a visa from another country through consular processing, you may expect to wait between 4 and 6 months before receiving an answer from the Embassy or Consulate. The time required to complete Form I-485 (if the applicant is filing from within the United States) will differ depending on the service center.

EB-3 Program Processing: 6 to 12 Months

The EB-3, employment-based third preference immigrant visa, is available to:

  • Skilled workers
  • Professionals and other workers
  • EB-3 Processing
  • If you have a PERM labor certification, the process can take up to 10 months.
  • It can take around 6-9 months (or 15 days for premium processing) for the Form I-140 Petition.
  • Through Adjustment of Status or Visa Processing, the process can take about nine months.

EB-4 Program Processing: 2 to 3 Years

The EB-4, employment-based fourth preference immigrant visa, is available to certain religious workers and broadcasters.

On March 15, 2022, the president signed H.R. 2471, extending the EB-4 non-minister special immigration religious worker program through September 30, 2022.

By the end date, workers in the occupations mentioned above will be eligible to apply for permanent residency or change their status to an immigrant.

After clearing your I-360 Petition for special immigrants issued by USCIS, the concept of priority dates is to consider when determining the EB-4 processing time. Your priority date is the day the USCIS receives your EB-4 Petition. You’ll need to compare this date to the “final action dates” published in the Department of State’s monthly visa bulletin. When your priority date corresponds to your country’s EB-4, it will become your “current” date.

Non-minister special immigrant religious workers fall into two categories:

  • Those engaged in a religious vocation or occupation
  • Those are performing a professional or non-professional job.

The program’s conclusion also applies to the spouses and children of these applicants.

EB-5 Program Processing: 10 to 21 Months

The EB-5, employment-based fifth preference immigrant visa, is available to aliens who invest at least $900,000 or $1.8 million in a commercial enterprise that will create at least ten full-time jobs for U.S. workers.

Selecting the appropriate EB5 Direct Investment or Regional Center project (1 to 3 months) takes longer than expected. In addition to the time it takes to become familiar with the process enough to feel comfortable investing, potential investors may have to wait until a future project they heard about through pre-launch information opens and accepts applicants.

It will take about a month for your lawyer to prepare the EB-5 application process.

The USCIS review of Form I-526 takes 6 to 9 months, though it takes about five months according to current processing times. However, Regional Centers are also reporting longer wait periods. USCIS will release your cash from the escrow account held at a Regional Center once the I-526 is validated.

If Premium Processing is implemented, EB-5 will shorten this stage to two weeks.

The time it takes to receive a green card varies based on the month of your application. However, it will generally take about four months after submitting Form I-485 for a consulate interview or beginning the Adjustment of Status process (4 to 9 months). This is why several websites give conflicting information regarding this portion.

Removing Conditions on EB-5 for Green Card:

To remove conditions on your green card, you must complete Form I-829. This form is filed between the 21st and 24th months after being granted a conditional green card. The process takes about 6 to 9 months.

You may apply for U.S. citizenship five years after receiving your conditional green card.

PERM Visa Processing 2022: 5 to 6 Months

PERM is the procedure for obtaining Labor Certification, the first stage in acquiring an employment-based immigrant visa or Green Card.

Visa processing for the PERM visa in 2022 is expected to follow a similar timeline to that of 2021.

The main difference will be the addition of a new online registration system; this online registration system was set to launch in March 2022. This system allows employers to register their interest in hiring foreign workers with the U.S. Department of Labor.

It is important to note that the PERM visa is not employment-based. Instead, it is a pathway to permanent residency (green card) status for certain highly skilled professionals their employers have sponsored.

Steps to follow:

  • Apply to DOL:
  • File for I-140 Petition:
  • Apply for Green Card

How to Speed Up the Green Card Processing?

Here are five simple ways to speed up your green card processing:

1. Ask USCIS for Premium Processing

Premium processing is a service offered by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) that allows certain applicants to receive an expedited decision on their green card application.

Premium processing is available for two types of applications:

1. Employment-based green card applications (Form I-485)

2. H-1B visa applications (Form I-129)

To be eligible for premium processing, applicants must submit a completed USCIS Form I-907, Request for Premium Processing Service, and the required filing fee.

Once the application is submitted with a premium processing service, USCIS guarantees that it will issue a decision within 15 calendar days.

2. Hiring an Attorney Helps

When you are applying for a green card, hiring an attorney can help the process go faster in several ways:

  • An attorney can help you complete the paperwork correctly and ensure that you have all of the required documentation. Getting help from an attorney can save time in the long run, as it can prevent delays in your application processing.
  • An attorney can help you prepare for your interview with immigration officials. Again, this can help speed up the process, as you will be better prepared and more likely to obtain your green card promptly.

Overall, hiring an attorney can help make the green card application process go much smoother and faster.

3. Ask Immigration Authorities for Expedition Processing

Expedited processing for a green card is available in certain situations. For example, if you need to get a green card urgently, you may be able to request expedited processing. As a result, your application will be given priority and processed more quickly than usual.

4. Review your Green Card Application

It is essential to take care when preparing your green card application so that the process goes smoothly and quickly.

  • Make sure to include all required documents
  • Pay the correct fees
  • Send your application to the right address
  • It may also be helpful to use a professional service to help with the application process.

By taking these simple steps, you can speed up your getting a green card.

5. Keep Yourself Updated

It is vital to keep track of USCIS’s updated rules and requirements now and then. Since the processing period of government initiatives or Petitions may change annually due to government rules or campaigns. Maintaining track of the current regulations and requirements is critical to speed up your green card processing.

FAQs

Can you wait in the U.S. while waiting for a green card?

-Yes, you can wait in the United States while waiting for your green card. However, you will need to have a valid visa to do so.

How long does it take to get a green card?

The entire process of getting a green card may take around two years, from start to finish. However, this can vary depending on the green card you are applying for and your circumstances.

What are EB-5 processing timings?

-On average, the EB-5 application process might take anywhere from 12 to 30 months. It also depends on the month and nation where you are applying.

What is National Interest Waiver Green Card?

National Interest Waiver (NIW) allows certain foreign nationals to bypass the usual requirement of obtaining a labor certification before immigrating to the United States.

The NIW is available to individuals who can demonstrate that their work in the United States will significantly benefit the national interest.

This exemption is a subset of the EB-2 employment-based category for obtaining lawful permanent residence in the United States.

How much time on average does Marriage-Based Green Card take?

If your spouse is a U.S. citizen and you currently live in the United States, it will take, on average, 10-13 months to get your permanent resident card. However, if your spouse is a green card holder and currently lives in the United States, your case processing time will generally be 29-38 months.

Editorial Team - HomeAbroad
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