Family I-485 USCIS processing times per local field office

Why is this content important for you?

This page helps family applicants going through adjustment of status determine when they are likely to obtain their Green Card by providing context and analysis around I-485 processing times published by USCIS.

What are the latest changes USCIS made to I-485 processing times?

Since May 2022, USCIS is providing a single ‘80%’ number for its I-485 processing times, instead of providing a ‘50%’ and ‘93%’ number. Through this change, USCIS is essentially telling applicants: ‘be prepared to wait, and in the meantime, do not bother us’:

  • The ‘80%’ number is higher than the ‘50%’ that applicants focused on. They are therefore managing expectations differently, more clearly communicating to applicant that they are going to have to be patient;
  • Today, when you look at the number of months for your Field Office, do not expect it to move much in the future. USCIS is saying that it is using an average of the last 6 months, instead of the ‘last period’ which was 6 to 8 weeks. Again, it is likely that USCIS no longer wanted to explain ‘swings’ in ‘processing times’ from one period to the next;
    This is very clear in the first set of numbers that Immigration Planner looked at –> between May and September 2022, the average of the ‘80%’ for all Field Offices was virtually unchanged (16.8 months instead of 16.4 months);
  • In the ‘do not bother us’ chapter, USCIS is no longer publishing the 93% number, which also acted as the basis for the ‘case inquiry date’, but you can still infer it from the message they display once a receipt date has been entered. In the sample we took, the case inquiry date was further out than it used to, and is probably going to be much more ‘stable’ (to avoid situation when you were allowed to inquire one period, but not the next one because of the ‘swings’ in numbers.

What are the latest family I-485 processing times per field office?

After pre-processing by the National Benefit Center (NBC), USCIS assigns family I-485s to a ‘local field office’ where the interview will take place based on the physical address of the applicant in the United States (if you are not sure about your USCIS field office, check your receipt notice, or use USCIS tool here).

The numbers provided by USCIS for I-485s rely on a 'processing time methodology' that provides more value to applicants than the 'cycle methodology' used for I-130s. USCIS looks at the adjudicated cases during the last period, and how much time it took from when the agency received the I-485 until a decision was made.

  • The '80%' corresponds to the latest measure of processing times published by USCIS (a decision was made on 80% of family I-485s during the stated number of months);
  • Then, Immigration Planner is providing estimates on the 'low' ('50%') and 'high' ('93%') based on past data, but these numbers are not official numbers from USCIS.

How long to family adjustment interview if my “Case is Ready to be Scheduled for an Interview”?

Again, this is going to depend on the USCIS Local Field Office where the interview is going to take place. Immigration Planner uses the latest data published by USCIS to compute the value of the 'backlog' of each office. This data is trying to capture the minimum of time that is going to elapse between:

    • The National Benefit Center (NBC) has determined that the I-485 case is 'Ready to be Scheduled for an Interview'
    • The date of the interview

In order to do that, we simply take the number of 'pending' family I-485 application at the end of the period, and divide it by the number of I-485 processed during the period ('approved' + 'denied').
What we are essentially saying is that, when the NBC is making your case available to the USCIS field office for interview:

      • All family I-485 interviews ahead of you at your field office will need to be adjudicated
      • The pace at which these I-485 will be processed in the next few months is the same as the one we saw during the last quarter of available data

So, according to our analysis, this is, for each USCIS field office, the minimum amount of time that is going to elapse between the moment your case is complete with NBC, and you actually get to go to the interview:

How accurate are USCIS processing times for family I-485s?

They are the most useful numbers published by USCIS because they are relevant, and fairly precise:

      • The are relevant --> for applicants going through adjustment of status, the I-485 is the form that drives the timeline because it is the one that, when approved, leads to the actual Green Card being produced.
        In 'concurrent filings' (I-485 and I-130 together, generally along with employment authorization and advance parole), form I-130 is generally approved at the same time as form I-485-- and that is at the time of the interview at the USCIS local field office.
        In other words, looking at processing times for form I-130 is not really relevant to family adjustment applicants who concurrent file. Only the I-485 matters to the overall timeline.
      • They are precise --> USCIS gives us a breakdown per USCIS field office, not nationwide averages, making it possible to customize timeline predictions based on the actual applicant's actual local field office.
      • For all USCIS local field offices --> The average family I-485 processing times (the new '80%) is between 16.5 months (based on current USCIS data);
      • The 'low' (or 50%) is between 11.5 months (this is an Immigration Planner estimate based on past data);
      • The 'high' (or 93%) is at least 26 months (this is an Immigration Planner estimate based on past data).
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How are I-485 processing times in 2022 compared to 2021?

The numbers for each USCIS field office represent the "low" (50%) and "high" (93%) in months presently (first column), and the range of these numbers during calendar year 2021.
As an example, the first line of this table has the following meaning:

      • At the USCIS field office of Agana in Guam, the "low" (50%) for family I-485s is currently 15.5 months when the "high" (93%) is 22.5 months
      • In 2021, the "low" for that field office was between 12 and 20 months
      • The "high" for that field office in 2021 was between 25.5 and 31.5 months

What is the difference between the National Benefit Center (NBC) and the USCIS local field office?

The National Benefit Center (NBC) is 'pre-processing' all family I-485s, making sure that they are ready for interview at the USCIS local field office. The NBC is also in charge of issuing employment authorizations and advance paroles. These are the detailed steps associated with a family adjustment application:

      • USCIS receives what is generally a 'concurrent filing' containing forms I-130, I-485, I-765, I-131, as well as affidavit(s) of support (form I-864);
      • USCIS will accept the filing and create a case if there is no obvious error associated with the filing (such as missing forms, or incorrect fees) in a process known as the 'intake';
      • Then the NBC takes over and will be in charge of:
        • Scheduling the biometric appointment;
        • Running background checks;
        • Review for initial evidence requirements and issue request for evidence (RFE) if necessary;
        • Issue employment authorization and advance parole (based on the processing of forms I-765 and I-131);
        • ...
      • The NBC will not make a decision on Form I-485, unless it determines that immigration laws prevent the applicant from adjusting status (for instance the applicant is under a bar to adjustment), or that the applicant abandoned its application (for instance by not responding to RFEs, or by traveling outside the United States without Advance Parole)
      • Once the NBC determines that all forms, documents, and evidence required to make a decision have been submitted, it makes the application available for the USCIS local field office to schedule for interview.
      • It will be the USCIS 'adjudicating officer' at the local field office that will make the decision on the family I-485.

What are the I-765 processing times at the National Benefit Center (NBC)?

Both the 'low' (50%) and 'high' (93%) of USCIS processing times for employment authorization increased in calendar year 2021 moving from 3.5 / 8 months in January to 9 / 12 months in December.

Hopefully, we are starting to see the beginning of an improvement with a 7.5 / 12 months range in April 2022.

I am under a preference classification, do these I-485 processing times apply to me?

Yes, once preference applicants have an approved I-130 and a 'current' priority date, the I-485 processing times apply to them.

Applicants under a 'preference' classification other than F2A are not allowed to file their I-485 until their I-130 is approved, and their priority date (established when they filed form I-130) is 'current' when compared to the 'filing date' of the visa bulletin (chart B).

In other words, applicants present in the United States under F1, F2B, F3, F4 and eligible for adjustment will wait longer to file form I-485 than those eligible for concurrent filing, but once they file, the USCIS I-485 processing times apply to them, and are helpful to predict their timeline.