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Title image How Long Does it Take to Get a Green Card

How Long Does it Take to Get a Green Card?

Author: Massiel Silva Tadeo, Founder, Tadeo & Silva

Attorney Massiel Silva Tadeo is a partner and owner at The Tadeo & Silva Law Firm. She specializes in removal (deportation) defense, family immigration, and hardship waivers. Published on: May 25, 2023, Last updated on: January 26, 2024.

Many immigrants in the US wonder, “How long does it take for a Green Card?” At Tadeo & Silva Immigration Attorneys, we can answer that question as well as assist you in the Green Card process.

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Whether you are in Atlanta or anywhere in the United States, Tadeo & Silva is able to take your immigration case and give you the best results your case can get. Our attorneys have managed cases from clients all over the country and internationally.

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What Is the Current Wait Time for Green Card?

After completing and filing the appropriate paperwork, many immigrants are left wondering, how long does the processing time take? The procedure to receive a Green Card, move to the U.S., and become lawful permanent residents can be complicated. In addition to the detailed forms, you have other supporting documents and fees to submit.

The green card process is a complex and potentially lengthy one. Engaging the assistance of a skilled green card lawyer experienced specifically in these matters can help you ensure that your documents are all correctly filled out and filed. Let the sympathetic lawyers at Tadeo & Silva Attorneys at Law advise and represent you.

How Long Does it Take for a Green Card in the U.S.?

The length of processing time it takes to become a lawful permanent resident, or a green card holder, depends on many factors: the manner of entry, whether the applicant is in the U.S. or their home country, whether the applicant will need inadmissibility waivers, the local office adjudicating their application (or consular office if the applicant is outside the U.S.), the status of the petitioner, the relationship between the petitioner and the applicant, among other factors.

With that being said, it can take anywhere from 7 to 33 months or longer to get your green card approved. The length of the green card application process can also depend on the type of green card an immigrant is applying for.

There are also several reasons the U.S. government can deny a green card application. Some of these reasons include making an error when filling out a green card application, ineligibility for criminal or health reasons, failing to meet green card application requirements, as well as failing to attend green card interview appointments scheduled by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). The U.S. consulate abroad or the USCIS can deny a green card application.

Obtaining lawful permanent residence is a complex process that requires the expertise of an immigration lawyer to prevent additional delays. It is important to note that processing times are increasing due to the Trump Administration policy changes.

How Long Does it Take to Get a Green Card After Applying

Questions about how long it takes to receive green cards in the US?

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How Long For a Green Card After Marriage

The processing time to obtain a marriage green card depends partly on who sponsors the process. The total wait time for marriage-based approval ranges between 10 to 38 months. This depends on whether you are married to a U.S. citizen or green card holder and whether you reside in the U.S. or outside of it.

Generally, if your spouse is a U.S. citizen who resides in the U.S., it takes 10-13 months. If they are U.S. citizens living elsewhere, it takes 11-17 months. However, it takes longer if your spouse is a green card holder. If they reside in the U.S., it takes 23-32 months. If not, the entire process will take 29-38.

Waiting for a green card to become available is something spouses of green card holders must do. Don’t forget their sponsor must file Form I-130 (Petition for Alien Relative) before they can apply for permanent residency status from a U.S. consulate abroad or within the United States. Usually, there is a two-year waiting time before a green card becomes available. However, waiting time for a foreign spouse can vary depending on their country of origin.

A qualified Atlanta immigration attorney familiar with marriage-based immigration can provide additional details and advice.

Green Card Through Marriage

It depends on whether the sponsoring spouse is a citizen or not. When the sponsoring spouse is a U.S. citizen, and both spouses reside in the United States, the process breaks down this way:

  • Establishing the marriage relationship (Form I-130) and applying for a marriage-based green card (Form I-485): 9–11 months

  • Interview and approval: 1–2 months

  • Total estimated processing time: 10–13 months

The entire process costs about $1,960. This includes $1,760 in government fees and $200 for the clinical examination. Don’t forget that a spouse of a U.S. citizen living in the United States can file Form I-130 and Form I-485 simultaneously when applying for a marriage-based green card.

Green Card Through Marriage to a Permanent Resident

The process for a marriage-based green card, when one partner is a U.S. permanent resident or “green card” holder and the other is a foreign national seeking a green card, is a bit longer. When both spouses are living in the U.S., the process is as follows:

  • Establishing the marriage relationship (Form I-130): 11–15 months

  • Waiting for marriage green card availability: 2 –10 months

  • Applying for the green card (Form I-485): 9–11 months

  • Interview and approval: 1–2 months

  • Total estimated processing time: 29–38 months

The total process here also costs $1,960.

Green Card Through Marriage to a Citizen

This process is a bit easier. If you are a U.S. citizen married to a foreign national living abroad, the process is as such:

  • Establishing the marriage relationship (Form I-130): 7–10 months

  • Applying for the marriage green card (Form I-485): 3–5 months

  • Interview and approval: 1–2 months

  • Total estimated processing time: 11–17 months

The total process costs for marriage-based green cards are approximately $1,400. An experienced immigration attorney can clarify which process pertains to your situation.

Get the facts on green cards after marriage

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How Long it Takes to Get a Green Card After Applying

Usually, suppose your application and documentation have been properly filed with the government. In that case, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services USCIS will initially send a Form I-797C, Notice of Action, by mail around 2-3 weeks after filing. This confirms that you’re an official applicant and begins the I-485 timeline, which includes the following benchmarks:

  • Approximately 5 TO 8 weeks after filing: you receive an appointment notice with the date, time, and location of your biometrics appointment for collecting fingerprints, a photograph, and a signature.
  • Approximately 12 TO 16 weeks after filing: you receive an Employment Authorization Document (EAD) or work permit provided you filed Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization, and Form I-131, Application for Travel Document.
  • Approximately 4 TO 10 months after filing: you usually receive another Form I-797, Notice of Action informing you and your sponsor of the date, time, and location of your adjustment of status interview.
  • Approximately 6 TO 12 months after filing: you attend your adjustment of status interview. This is where your records will be reviewed. Immigration lawyers experienced in dealing with USCIS Atlanta can provide vital assistance and help you prepare for this step in the process.
  • Approximately 8 TO 14 months after filing: you may be granted permanent resident status at the end of the interview.

If approved, your card will be mailed to you by USCIS. If it is not approved, you will receive a notice from USCIS by mail explaining why your application was denied.

In Atlanta, it is currently taking 11.5-18.5 months to process. Once your green card arrives, you will no longer need your EAD card. You can work in and travel outside the United States as a permanent resident.

Green Card in the Mail?

Although the entire process can take 1-10 years, depending on the situation, after approval, the cards currently take anywhere from a couple of weeks to 3 months to arrive in the mail. If you have not received your green card in 90 days and have already entered the United States, you should follow up with USCIS. They may have received your application but need further information or an additional fee. You can also check USCIS’s website for updates on the processing of your application.

The USCIS may request additional information after the interview. It is important to respond promptly and accurately to their requests. If you do not, your application may be denied, or even worse, you could face deportation.

If you have any questions or need help with the green card process, consider consulting an experienced immigration attorney. They can help you navigate the long and complicated process to get your green card as quickly and efficiently as possible.

How Long Does it Take After The Approval?

Once approved, you will receive a welcome note to notify you that you have become a legal permanent resident. Then you will receive your new permanent resident card (green card).

If you do not receive your green card within 30 days of getting your welcome notice, call the USCIS Contact Center at 800-375-5283. 

How Long It Takes to Get a Green Card Through Consular Processing

If an immigrant is applying for a green card from their home country, they must go through a consular procedure, meaning their green card application process will be handled by the U.S. consulate or embassy.

These applicants have to wait for their green cards in their home country. That can take several months to over a year, although the exact time to process a green card application depends on different factors. Applicants must also undergo a visa interview with the consular officer, who will decide whether to grant the application.

Can I Stay in the U.S. While Waiting for a Green Card?

It depends. An immigrant with a pending green card application for conditional or permanent residence can stay in the U.S. while waiting for their green card. However, you must ensure you have a pending green card application, which can be tricky. If you’re not, by living in the country unlawfully, you risk deportation and ruining your chances of getting a green card.

For additional support, contact the law office of Tadeo & Silva.

How Long Does it Take to Get a Green Card

Getting a green card after applying: an expert opinion

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 Getting a Green Card Through Family

Family immigrant visas enable foreign nationals to join their relatives in the U.S. This only applies to immediate family members, such as parents, children, spouses, and siblings.

Even if an individual is certain they qualify for a family-based green card, the whole process takes time. Average green card processing times will depend on several factors, such as the type of family relationship, whether the relative has united states citizenship, or if they are a green card holder. Other relevant factors can also influence the waiting time for family-based green cards.

In case you are a spouse, an unmarried child under 21, or a parent to a U.S. citizen, you can petition for you to get an immediate relative green card. That is the fastest way to get a U.S. green card.

There are annual caps for family-preference immigrants and this type of sponsorship regarding how many individuals can be processed each year. Once the cap has been reached, anyone seeking permanent residency must wait for the next year. 

U.S. Citizen Family Preference Immigrants

The processing time for Family Preference Green Cards can last from 1 to 10 years, depending on the annual caps and waiting period. For example, if the annual cap is 1000 and you are the 1001st individual on the list, the process for your family-based green card application begins the next year.

If you are the 2001st applicant, the process will start after two years. This lengthens the entire family-based immigration process to as many as ten years if there are many applicants. An Atlanta immigration attorney experienced in the proceedings and empathetic to your case can further explain.

Green Card for Parents

This period of processing time depends on how urgent the case is. Although Family Preference Immigrant Visas have limits, Immediate Relative Visas do not. The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) provides as many visas as necessary with no yearly quota for immediate family members.

Having an immigrant visa makes the processing times of obtaining a family-based green card in the United States much quicker. Retaining legal counsel can ensure you follow the proper procedures with USCIS to minimize the processing time.

How Long for My Brother to Get a Green Card

Each year, 65,000 people receive a family-based type of immigrant visa. Although annual caps can make the process take a seemingly inordinately long time, this is not always the case.

The siblings of U.S. citizens and their families, including spouses and their minor children, are granted F-4 visas. When there are immigrant visas from other categories that are left over for the year, the next category receives them.

For example, F-1 visas are for unmarried children of U.S. citizens and their minor children. Any unused F-1 visas pass to F-2, which are for spouses and children of legal permanent residents. Unused F-2 pass to F-3 to benefit married sons and daughters of U.S. citizens, their spouses, and their minor children. Any that are leftover are added to the allotment of F-4 visas issued to U.S. citizens’ siblings and their spouses and children.

Aggressive help with green cards through family

Tadeo & Silva, immigration attorneys in Atlanta are an experienced team ready to fight for you and your family.

How Long to Get a Green Card Through Employment

The U.S. government and USCIS each year issue 140,000 employment visas divided into different categories. The processing for which is first-come, first-served, and the wait times depend on the demand for each category.

Generally, employment-based green card processing time may take one year for visas with low demand and 4 to 6 years for more popular ones. To reduce the processing time, ensure there are no mistakes in the application process and that the documents are all in order. Otherwise, the USCIS will return them, further increasing the processing time. This is why it is essential to have a knowledgeable immigration attorney on your side to help you navigate the process.

 

Factors Causing Delay in Green Card Processing Times

 

Factors that can delay Green Card processing include the specific green card categories, such as employment-based green cards, marriage visas, or those for immediate relatives.

The priority date, crucial in certain categories, can affect the green card timeline, causing longer waiting periods. Complex cases, like those claiming extraordinary ability, may require more review time.

The processing office, whether a USCIS service center or consulate, can also impact timelines, as some service centers have higher workloads. Incomplete applications, missing documents like birth certificates, or issues with the immigrant visa electronic application can cause delays.

Additionally, incomplete medical exams or discrepancies in the immigration law compliance, such as in green card lottery cases, can prolong the process. The receipt notice and other correspondence from USCIS should be monitored closely to ensure timely responses.

 

How Long Does the National Visa Center Take to Process a Case?

 

The National Visa Center (NVC) is responsible for processing immigrant visas in the U.S. After the USCIS has approved an immigrant petition, the NVC reviews it and assigns a case number. This step usually takes no more than two months.

Once the NVC has assigned a case number, they will issue instructions to the applicant and any family members included in the application. This includes information about how to submit the necessary documents and the fees.

After submitting all required documents, the NVC will review them and schedule an interview. The average processing time of this step is about two weeks. Once the interview date is known, the individual can expect to receive a decision within a month.

 

Contact a Green Card Lawyer Today

 

The processing time for a green card can vary depending on the type of visa and other circumstances. With the help of an experienced Atlanta immigration lawyer, you can ensure that the process moves as quickly as possible and that your application is in order.

At Tadeo & Silva Law, we are committed to helping you and your family obtain a green card quickly and correctly. To learn more about how we can help, contact our experienced Atlanta immigration attorneys today. We look forward to helping you with your green card application.

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