How Long Does It Take to Get a Green Card?

Jun 25, 2020 | How Long Does It Take to Get a Green Card?

 

A green card is an immigration document that provides evidence of Lawful Permanent Resident (LPR) status.  As a permanent resident, you have permission to work and live indefinitely in the United States.  Being a permanent resident can also lead to better work opportunities, and can give you access to federal financial aid for your education.  Finally, permanent residents can leave and re-enter the United States, allowing you to travel abroad to see family, go on vacation, or attend professional conferences.

In general, it can take anywhere from six months to over a year to get a green card.  The amount of time is based on three main factors:

  • Completeness of application
  • General processing times
  • Specific Location

Completeness of Application

Filing for a green card is more complicated than just filling out a form.  A typical green card application packet will include 5-8 different immigration forms totaling almost 90 pages.  In addition, there can be over 100 pages of supporting documents that accompany the application, including certain biographic documents and financial records.  Finally, there are specific rules for each form regarding when, where, and how to file it, including detailed instructions on how to pay the government filing fees.

As your green card case is being processed, it is reviewed for completeness.  If any part of the application is deemed incomplete, it may be rejected and sent back to you.  Some examples of reasons for rejection include:

  • blank areas on the forms
  • questions that are left unanswered
  • errors in payment
  • mailing it to the wrong addresses or service center
  • missing forms
  • missing supporting documents

In addition to packet rejections, Immigration may also issue a Request for Evidence (RFE) while they process the case. An RFE will ask for specific additional documents that are needed to make a decision on your case.  An RFE will also have a set deadline of time in which you must respond—usually 87-90 days.

Packet rejections and RFEs can cause unnecessary stress and delays your case.  If you fail to respond to an RFE you risk having your case denied completely.  Having an attorney prepare, review, and submit the application helps minimize the risk of a rejection.  Our attorneys are also experienced at responding to RFEs and can ensure that your case continues to move forward through the process.

General Processing Times

Your green card case will go through several administrative steps as the government processes all of the information and documents provided.  These initial steps are necessary in order to prepare the case for interview.  Our advocates at Noble Vrapi will monitor these steps and will keep you informed of general processing times so that you know how long it may take to get a decision on your case.

One of the initial steps in the case is a biometrics appointment.  This is an appointment in which your digital fingerprints and photo are taken.  Typically, it is scheduled at an Applicant Support Center (ASC) at the immigration office nearest to you.  Although this is not an interview, it is important to be prepared for the appointment and bring all the necessary documents.  Missing a biometrics appointment can result in denial of your case.  Our staff at Noble Vrapi will prepare you for your appointment and can assist you with rescheduling if you are unable to attend.

As your case is processed, it may be also transferred between service centers or between federal agencies.  Immigration will usually send a notification of the transfer, and it is important to monitor these changes to ensure that the case continues to move forward.  Transfers in the case may help speed up processing on your application, or may indicate that your case is getting ready to be scheduled for interview.  Transfers, however, may also entail other delays as your file is physically sent from one office or agency to another.  Having an attorney guide you through this process will help you to determine what a case transfer may mean for your green card application.

At Noble Vrapi, we are committed to keeping clients informed on the status of their case and help ensure that no notifications or deadlines are missed.  We can follow up with Immigration if your case is outside normal processing times, and can also inform Immigration of any important changes or updates such as change of address, which can greatly impact the processing of your case.

Location

As a final step, most green card cases are routed to a local field office where you will be scheduled for an interview.  At the interview, an immigration officer will meet with you to review all the information you provided and will look over your original documents.  This is to ensure that you are eligible for your green card.  After the interview, a final decision will be made on your case.

If you are applying for your green card from outside the United States (“consular processing”), your interview will be scheduled at a designated U.S. Consulate in the country where you are living.  If you are applying from within the United States (“adjustment of status”), your interview will be scheduled at at the USCIS field office closest to you.

Each field office and consular post has its own timeline for processing cases.  Field offices also may differ in how much supporting evidence they expect to see, and what specific questions they will ask.  At Noble Vrapi, we prepare you fully for your interview beforehand. This will ensure that you go into the interview knowing what to expect and can be prepared with all the required documents.  We can also attend the interview with you.  Having an attorney by your side gives you the greatest chance of success, as we can help resolve any legal questions that arise and make sure you are treated with dignity and respect during the process.

Our attorneys have vast experience with interviews with the green card process both inside and outside the U.S.  To get started on your green card case, call or click to set up a consultation.