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 5, 2019, Last updated on: June 14, 2019.
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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How Long Does it Take to Get a 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 a citizen can be complicated. In addition to the detailed forms, you have other supporting documents and fees to submit.
The process of getting a green card is a complex and potentially lengthy one. Engaging the assistance of a skilled immigration attorney 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 US?
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 in 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 appointments scheduled by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). A green card application can be denied either by the U.S. consulate abroad or by the USCIS.
Obtaining lawful permanent residence is a complex process that requires the expertise of an immigration lawyer in order to prevent additional delays. It is important to point out that processing times are currently increasing due to the Trump Administration policy changes.
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How Long For a Green Card After Marriage
The amount of processing time it takes for obtaining a marriage-based green card depends in part on who is sponsoring the process. The total wait time for marriage-based approval ranges between 10 to 38 months. This is dependent upon 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 he or she is a U.S. citizen living elsewhere, it takes 11-17 months. If your spouse is a green card holder, however, it takes longer. If he or she resides 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 will have to do. Don’t forget their sponsor has to file Form I-130 before they can apply for permanent residency status from either 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 the specifics of 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 thusly:
- 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 total 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 U.S. citizens living in the United States can file Form I-130 and Form I-485 at the same time 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.
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How Long it Takes to Get a Green Card After Applying
Usually, if your application and documentation have been properly filed with the government, 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 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. As a permanent resident, you have the right to work in and travel outside the United States.
Green Card in the Mail?
Although the entire process can take from 1-10 years depending on the situation, after approval, the cards are currently taking anywhere from a couple of weeks to 3 months to arrive in the mail. If, however, you have not received your green card in 90 days and have already entered the United States, you should follow up with USCIS.
How Long Does it Take After The Approval?
Once you are 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?
In case an immigrant is applying for a green card from their home country, they are required to 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 from several months to over a year, although the exact time to process a green card application depends on different factors. Applicants also have to go through 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, either for conditional or permanent residence can stay in the U.S. while waiting for their green card. However, you have to make sure you really have a pending green card application, and that 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.
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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 influence the waiting time for family-based green cards as well.
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 a legal permanent residence. That is the fastest way to get a U.S. green card.
For family preference immigrants and this type of sponsorship, there are annual caps regarding how many individuals are allowed to be processed each year. Once the cap has been reached anyone else who is seeking permanent resident status 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 much as 10 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 the 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 that you are following 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 that are issued to the siblings of U.S. citizens and their spouses and children.
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How Long to Get a Green Card Through Employment
Each year, the U.S. government and USCIS 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 1 year for visas with low demand and 4 to 6 years for more popular ones. To reduce the processing time, make sure that there are no mistakes in the application process and that documents are all in order. Otherwise, the USCIS will return them, thereby further increasing the processing time. This is why it is essential to have a knowledgeable immigration attorney on your side.
Help to Get a Green Card Through Employment
The attorneys at Tadeo & Silva Law are dedicated, experienced, and here to help you achieve your immigration goals and your green card application. Contact our team of trusted immigration attorneys in Atlanta.
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