Family Green Card Processes

The series of steps applicants need to complete

The Green Card process determines:

  1. Which Forms you need to file, and the order in which you need to file them;
  2. Who will review your forms;
  3. Which immigration rules apply to you.

Additionally your Green Card process, along with your Immigration Category (and sometimes your country of birth) determines how long each step will take. By adding all the steps, the length of the Green Card process, from start to finish, can be estimated.

Our Dynamic Planner applies the latest Processing Times to your Green Card process and circumstances to predict when each step will take place.

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COMMON PROCESSES

Green Card Process help you answer the question ‘What is next?’. The next step can be something applicants need to do, such as filing a Form, or something U.S. Immigration Agencies (USCIS or the State Department) need to do, such as adjudicating a petition. The most common Green Card processes are as follows:

  1. Applicants who live abroad (outside the United States) go through Consular Processing, with or without Waivers;
  2. Applicants who already reside in the United States go through Adjustment of Status (provided they are eligible to do so), with or without Concurrent Filing;
  3. Applicants who reside in the United States, but who are not eligible for Adjustment of Status go through what we call ‘Consular Processing for Applicants residing in the United States’, and generally need a Waiver.

PROCESSING TIMES

Processing Times help you answer the ‘How long will it take?’ as in ‘How long will take for my Form I-130 to be approved?’, or ‘How long will it take the NVC to review my case?’. They help estimate the time it takes U.S. Immigration Agencies to complete their tasks.

On top of Processing Times, applicants under a family-based preference (F1 to F4) also have to pay attention the Visa Bulletin. This is because a key step of the immigration process, the interview, cannot be scheduled unless the Applicant’s Priority Date is ‘current’ when compared to the appropriate Final Action Date of the Visa Bulletin.

Immigration Planner is one of the leading experts in Visa Bulletin analysis and predictions. You will find information associated with this specific topic in the Visa Bulletin section.

Consular Processing & Adjustment (without concurrent filing)

Form I-130 Approval

I-130 Processing Times matter to all applicants going through Consular Processing, as well as applicants going through Adjustment of Status without Concurrent filing. In other words, unless you are filing Form I-485 and Form I-130 concurrently, you are going to be interested by I-130 Processing Times. Note the following:

  • I-130 Processing Times are at this point more of an indication of USCIS’ backlog than the actual time it takes to approve a form I-130. So using appropriately these processing times takes expertise.
  • I-130 processing times vary primarily depending on the immigration category of the applicant. Essentially, USCIS will take more time to approve Form I-130 when it knows that the applicant will have to wait anyway because of Annual Numerical Limits and the associated Visa Bulletin wait.
    Immediate Relatives though are treated the same way and there is no distinction made between parents, spouses, and children of U.S. Citizens as far as processing times are concerned.
  • I-130 Processing Times may vary depending on which Service Centers process the I-130. This is actually more true for Immediate Relatives than it is for applicants under a family-preference. Most applicants under a family-preference see their I-130 processed by the California Service Center while Immediate Relatives see their I-130s see their I-130 processed by 3 service centers.
Center
Digits
Class
50%
93%
Inquiry
CaliforniaWSC (or WAC)F12 yrs 5 mo 3 yrs 1 mo Jun 10 2017
VermontESC (or EAC)F13 yrs 11 mo 5 yrs 2 mo May 25 2015
CaliforniaWSC (or WAC)F2A10.5 mo13.5 moJun 9 2019
VermontESC (or EAC)F2A15.5 mo20 moNov 19 2018
CaliforniaWSC (or WAC)F2B4 yrs 2 mo 5 yrs 5 mo Feb 7 2015
VermontESC (or EAC)F2B4 yrs 5 mo 5 yrs 9 mo Oct 27 2014
CaliforniaWSC (or WAC)F37 yrs 9 mo 10 yrs 1 mo Jun 24 2010
CaliforniaWSC (or WAC)F48 yrs 10 mo 11 yrs 6 mo Jan 7 2009
NebraskaNSC (or LIN)IR10.5 mo13.5 moJun 9 2019
PotomacYSC (or PSC)IR7 mo9 moOct 16 2019
TexasSSC (or SRC)IR6 mo8 moNov 21 2019

More than 95% of preference-based classification (F1 to F4) are processed at the California Service Center. So differences between Service Centers might simply reflect widely different workload, rather than actual differences in the time it takes to process application.

Our Planner retrieves the latest from USCIS every day from this page. We store the data to analyse historical trends.

Consular Processing

NVC Timeframes

The National Visa Center (NVC) is a unit of the U.S. State Department which essentially makes sure that applicants Green Card Case is ‘interview-ready’, so that the Interview with a Consular Officer can take place. Note the following:

  • Case Creation represents the time it takes for the NVC to create an NVC Case Number once they have received an approved I-130 from USCIS.
  • Case Review represents the time it takes for the NVC to review a complete filing in the CEAC and determine whether it is ‘Case Complete’ (once the DS-260, Affidavit of Support, and all documents have been submitted).
  • EMail Response, which normally represents the time it takes for the NVC to respond to ‘AskNVC’ emails, is considered ‘Not Available’, because the NVC is unable to respond to all inquiries due to staffing reductions (NVC will only respond to inquiries with urgent medical or humanitarian concerns or other necessary updates. NVC will not respond to any routine emails submitted March 27 or earlier – Source: cliniclegal.org)
ACTION
LENGTH
INQUIRY
Case Creation8 days
Case Review102 daysFeb 14, 2020
EMail ResponseN/AN/A
Last UpdatedMay 26, 2020

Our Planner retrieves the latest from the State Department every week from this page.

Because of staffing reductions linked to Covid-19, the time it takes Applicants to get to Documentarily Qualified has increased:

Adjustment of Status

Form I-485 Adjudication

I-485 Processing Times are the one and only driver of the Interview for applicants going through Adjustment of Status. Note the following:

  • I-485 Processing Times are computed differently than I-130 or I-765 Processing Times. They actually reflect the age of the cases that were recently adjudicated by USCIS. They are therefore not an indication of a backlog, but a more accurate indication of how long it takes USCIS to make a decision on 50% of the cases of the cases that were submitted to them, and 93% of the cases
  • I-485 Processing Times are the addition of two Processing Times:
    1. the time it takes the NBC to make sure that the I-485 of the applicant is interview-ready;
    2. once the case of the applicant is deemed ‘interview-ready’, the time it takes for the USCIS Field Office to schedule the interview. The higher the number of waiting applicants, the longer it takes 
  • The following tables represents current processing times for the 10 busiest USCIS Field Offices.

As of March 2020, the ‘average’ across all USCIS Field Offices look something like:

  • 50% Scenario?  50% of the I-485 Interview take place within 10.5 months of their filing.
  • 93% Scenario?  23 months.
Office
50%
93%
Last 12 months

Form I-485 Processing Times at selected USCIS Field Offices (in Months)

Atlanta GA8.530Low: 6.5 / 12 months; High: 17 / 35.5 months
Brooklyn NY8.530Low: 12.5 / 20 months; High: 22 / 35 months
Chicago IL729.5Low: 6 / 14 months; High: 23.5 / 38.5 months
Dallas TX7.529Low: 8 / 17 months; High: 19.5 / 25 months
Houston TX9.534Low: 10 / 17.5 months; High: 23.5 / 31.5 months
Newark NJ1024.5Low: 12.5 / 21.5 months; High: 27 / 38 months
New York City NY8.530Low: 12.5 / 21.5 months; High: 27 / 38 months
Oakland Park FL8.530Low: 9 / 21 months; High: 23.5 / 34 months
Queens NY9.528.5Low: 6.5 / 17.5 months; High: 21 / 28.5 months
San Francisco CA8.530Low: 11 / 19 months; High: 20 / 26.5 months

Our Planner retrieves the latest from USCIS every day from this page. We store the data to analyse historical trends.

Adjustment of Status

Form I-765 (and I-131) Approval

The National Benefit Center (NBC) is a unit of USCIS that makes sure that the Green Card Cases of applicants are ‘interview-ready’, so that an Interview with an ‘Adjudicating Officer’ at a USCIS Field Office can take place. While doing that, the NBC is also in charge of delivering the Employment Authorization Card (through Form I-765 approval), and Advance Parole (through Form I-131 approval).

How long it takes to approve Form I-765 has a limited impact on the date of the Interview. The most important factor is how long applicants have to wait for their Interview at the USCIS Field Office, which varies greatly depending on how ‘busy’ the office is, and which is captured through Form I-485 Processing Times.

Center
Digits
Class
50%
93%
Inquiry

Form I-765 Processing Times at the NBC (in Months)

National Benefit CenterNBC (or MSC)All4.56.5Jan 4 2020

Our Planner retrieves the latest from USCIS every day from this page. We store the data to analyse historical trends.

Visa Bulletin  Predictions

Immigration Planner uses technology and proprietary mathematical models to inspect years of data and predict the ‘Final Action Date’ for applicants under a family-based preference (F1, F2A, F2B, F3, F4).

Learn more

Common Adjustment Processes

Concurrent Filing

For eligible Immediate Relatives of U.S. Citizens living in the United States.

‘Standard’ Adjustment

For eligible applicants, usually under a family-based classification (mostly F1 and F2A, and more rarely F2B, F3, F4).

Common Consular Processes

Consular Processing with Visa Bulletin Wait

For applicants living abroad (outside the United States) who are under a family-based classification (F1, F2A, F2B, F3, F4).

Consular Processing, no Wait

For Immediate Relatives of U.S. Citizens who are living outside the United States.

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