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Green card applications, or officially known as Permanent Resident Card applications, are often considered a complex process due to their variable timelines. These timelines are influenced by numerous factors such as the relationship status between the sponsor and beneficiary, the beneficiary’s home country, and the individual circumstances surrounding each case.

Understanding Current Processing Times

According to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), the processing times for various forms are updated and released each quarter. As of the latest update, the processing time for Form I-130, the Petition for Alien Relative, varies broadly over several months. Concurrently, on average, Form I-485, known as the Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status, requires around 20 months. Notably, these times can fluctuate, and applicants should consistently check the latest updates on the USCIS website.

Analysis of Average Wait Times by Relationship

Spouses of U.S. Citizens

If the spouse of a U.S. citizen is residing within the United States, the average timeline to receive a marriage-based green card stands between 12.5 to 22.5 months. This estimate considers the concurrent filing of both the I-130 and the I-485 forms. For spouses living outside the United States, the average wait time to secure a spousal visa increases slightly to the range of 13.75 to 15.75 months.

Spouses of Green Card Holders

The green card application process for spouses of Green Card holders is slightly more complicated. Following the filing of the Form I-130 by their sponsor, they are required to wait for a green card to become available, which typically takes about two years. Counting the waiting time, the entire process can take up to three years.

However, due to a backlog of cases in this category, the wait times have been affected significantly.

As of March 2023, a significant shift was observed in the April 2023 Visa Bulletin regarding the F-2A family-based category (for spouses of U.S. lawful permanent residents). The “Final Action Dates” for F-2A applications are no longer considered “current”, a change that hasn’t been seen in years. These dates refer to applications that have reached the front of the line and can now be adjudicated.

Although “Final Action Dates” are no longer current, the “Dates for Filing” remain current for the F-2A category. This means spouses of U.S. green card holders can still file their green card applications. However, these cases won’t be reviewed until their priority date becomes current. This change will most likely negatively impact the wait times for green cards of LPR-sponsored spouses.

Widows and Widowers of U.S. Citizens

The green card application process for widows and widowers of U.S. citizens is designed to be more accommodating. They can apply for a green card within two years following their spouse’s death. The process is similar to the marriage-based green card process for spouses of U.S. citizens. However, instead of the I-130, widows and widowers file Form I-360, also known as the “Petition for Amerasian, Widow(er), or Special Immigrant”.

Parents of U.S. Citizens

Parents of U.S. citizens are given a high priority, with no limit on the number of green cards that can be issued to them. Consequently, parents of U.S. citizens can usually expect to receive their green card within 1-2 years of applying for a family-based green card.

Minor Children of U.S. Citizens

Similar to the parents of U.S. citizens, there is no limit on the number of green cards that can be issued to minor children (under the age of 21) of U.S. citizens. They can usually expect to receive their green card within 1-2 years from the start of the green card application process.

Minor Children of Green Card Holders

For minor children of green card holders, the process is similar to the one for spouses of green card holders. It usually takes about two years for a green card to become available, with the entire process taking around three years.

Unmarried, Adult Children of U.S. Citizens and Green Card Holders

The situation for unmarried, adult children of U.S. citizens and green card holders is significantly different. They have to wait for a green card to become available after their U.S. citizen parent has filed the I-130 on their behalf. The wait can be substantial, particularly for citizens of Mexico. The timelines are as follows: 7-8 years for adult children of U.S. citizens and 8-9 years for those of green card holders. For citizens of Mexico, the wait can exceed 20 years.

Married Adult Children of U.S. Citizens and Siblings of U.S. Citizens

For married adult children of U.S. citizens, the timeline extends to 13-14 years. For siblings of U.S. citizens, the wait is 14-16 years. These timelines can extend significantly for citizens of the Philippines, Mexico, and India.

The Bottom Line

Securing a green card in the United States is a complex process, with timelines depending heavily on the nature of the familial relationship, the applicant’s home country, and individual circumstances. Sometimes, USCIS may require additional information before processing an application, which can further delay the process.

The processing times listed here should be taken as general guidance, and they are subject to change. For the most accurate information, individuals should refer to the latest updates from the USCIS or seek advice from a legal professional well-versed in immigration law.

While the wait times may seem daunting, remember that these steps lead to the ultimate goal: achieving lawful permanent residency in the U.S. Patience, thorough preparation, and strict adherence to guidelines are key components of a successful green card application.

However, navigating through the intricate immigration system can be a challenging process. This is where the Law Office of Olena Manilich steps in. Our dedicated team is committed to guiding you through each stage of the green card application process. We stay updated with the changes in immigration policies and timelines to provide you with the most accurate, up-to-date information and guidance.

Don’t let the complexities of the process discourage you from pursuing your dream of living in the United States. We are here to help you every step of the way. Reach out to the Law Office of Olena Manilich today and let us simplify your journey to obtaining a U.S. green card.

Keep checking the USCIS website and our monthly Visa Bulletin report for updates on changes in immigration policies and timelines. Trust us to be your reliable partner in this important life-changing endeavor. Your journey to a green card doesn’t have to be a solo one. Allow us to lend our expertise and provide the guidance you need. Let’s embark on this journey together. Contact us today.