How Long Does The Immigration Process Take?

Immigration Process

Immigration applications will take different amounts of time to fully process depending on several factors that can influence each individual case. These can include where the applicant is from, how they relate to their sponsor, the immigration status of their sponsor, which field office, consulate, or embassy is in charge of their case, and many other possible details that can complicate cases in unique ways.

Most people asking how long their immigration process will take are looking for more specific figures to gauge their own case by. They will want to know what steps to take if their application seems to have stalled and how to handle unexpected delays. 

The best resource available for the former is the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) website, which offers useful tools and databases that can provide estimates for each form you may fill out for an immigration issue. If you're like most immigrants, you want a better answer to the question of how long your application will take than "it depends."

You also want to know what to do if things seem to be taking too long. This page contains everything you need to know to understand immigration application processing times and what you should do when your application takes longer than it seems like it should. For the latter concern, you should consult with an experienced immigration attorney who can help you take the right steps to get your application process moving smoothly again and see you through the green card process. 

By far the best way to ensure your application is approved quickly is to submit it correctly the first time around. This may seem obvious, but immigration law is extremely complicated and one of the most common causes for delays and increased denial rates of immigration applications is the incorrect filing of paperwork. In the best case, these will only bring extra stress, additional time for processing, and extra filing fees into your immigration process.

Contact us today to get started on your application process and we'll help you prepare, file, and track your application every step of the way. The Law Office of Jason A. Dennis is one of the fastest growing immigration law firms in the country. We can help you cut down on your visa wait times, deal with immigration officers, and secure your lawful immigration status.

How Do I Check the Status of My Immigration Application?

The process for checking the status of your immigration application will differ depending on who it is being handled by. In general, it can be broken down two ways. If you filed your application from within the United States it will be processed by USCIS. If you filed your application through consular processing from outside the U.S. it will face initial processing by USCIS before being sent to the National Visa Center, and then forwarded again to the U.S. embassy or consulate office nearest you to handle the case. Once you know where your green card application is, you will be able to check it at any of the three. 

Your Application is Held by USCIS

If your visa application is being processed by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services you can check the status by using the online status tool on their website. If this is inconvenient for you, or you encounter problems using the tool you can also call the USCIS National Customer Service Center at 1-800-375-5283 for assistance. If you call in you will need to supply them your receipt number to receive your application details. This 13-digit number can be found in the top left corner of the receipt notice sent to you by USCIS after you filed your application. 

Your Application is Held by The National Visa Center

If your application is being held by The National Visa Center you can check the status by using the online status tool on their website. If this is inconvenient for you or you encounter problems using the tool you can also call the NVC at (603) 334-0700 to check your application status. You will need to provide them with your immigrant visa case number to receive any information. This number is assigned when the NVS first receives your application from USCIS. It is the 14-character number listed on the welcome letter sent to you by the NVS. 

Your Application is Held by a U.S. Embassy or Consulate

If your application has been forwarded to an embassy or consulate office from the NVS it will be sent to the one nearest the permanent residence address you provided on your visa application. You will need to find the contact information for that office on their website and get in touch with them for an update on your application status. You can find a complete list of U.S. embassies and consulate buildings here.

How Long Does it Take USCIS to Process Immigration Applications?

Your immigration application will be processed at one of five United States Citizenship and Immigration Services service centers after you have filed it. The processing time for your particular application will be impacted by the type of immigration application you filed, your unique background, the volume being handled by the service center, as well as other factors. Below is a list of different application types along with the expected time it should take for them to be processed at different immigration offices.

Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative (Family Green Card)

  • California Service Center
    • Permanent Resident filing for a spouse or child under 21 years old - 12.5 to 16 months
    • United States citizen filing for an unmarried child over 21 years old - 31 to 40 months
    • United States citizen filing for a married child over 21 years old - 95 to 124 months
    • United States citizen filing for a spouse, parent, or child under 21 years old - 11 to 14.5 months
  • Nebraska Service Center
    • Permanent Resident filing for a spouse or child under 21 years old - 12.5 to 16 months
    • United States citizen filing for an unmarried child over 21 years old - 6.5 to 8.5 months
    • United States citizen filing for a married child over 21 years old - 6.5 to 8.5 months
    • United States citizen filing for a spouse, parent, or child under 21 years old - 6.5 to 8.5 months
  • Potomac Service Center
    • Permanent Resident filing for a spouse or child under 21 years old - 17 to 22 months
    • United States citizen filing for an unmarried child over 21 years old - 11 to 14.5 months
    • United States citizen filing for a married child over 21 years old - 11 to 14.5 months
    • United States citizen filing for a spouse, parent, or child under 21 years old - 9 to 11.5 months
  • Texas Service Center
    • Permanent Resident filing for a spouse or child under 21 years old - 67.5 to 88 months
    • United States citizen filing for a married child over 21 years old - 6 to 7.5 months
    • United States citizen filing for a spouse, parent, or child under 21 years old - 6 to 7.5 months
  • Vermont Service Center
  • Permanent Resident filing for a spouse or child under 21 years old - 17.5 to 22.5 months
  • United States citizen filing for an unmarried child over 21 years old - 37.5 to 49 months
  • United States citizen filing for a married child over 21 years old - 69 to 85 months
  • United States citizen filing for a spouse, parent, or child under 21 years old - 21 to 27 months

Form I-131, Application for Travel Document

  • California Service Center
    • All other applicants for advance parole - 3 to 5 months
  • National Benefits Center
    • All other applicants for advance parole - 3 to 5 months
  • Nebraska Service Center
    • Permanent Resident applying for a re-entry permit - 4 to 6 months
    • Refugee or Asylee applying for a refugee travel document - 4 to 6 months
    • Haitian Refugee Immigrant Fairness Act (HRIFA) principal applying for advance parole - 3 to 5 months
    • HRIFA dependent applying for advance parole - 3 to 5 months
    • All other applicants for advance parole - 3 to 5 months
  • Texas Service Center
    • Permanent Resident applying for a re-entry permit - 3 weeks to 5 months
    • Refugee or Asylee applying for a refugee travel document - 3 weeks to 5 months
    • Haitian Refugee Immigrant Fairness Act (HRIFA) principal applying for advance parole - 3 to 5 months
    • HRIFA dependent applying for advance parole - 3 to 5 months
    • All other applicants for advance parole - 3 to 5 months
  • Vermont Service Center
    • All other applicants for advance parole - 5.5 to 7.5 months
  • Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status

  • California Service Center
    • Employment-based adjustment applications - 8.5 to 23 months
  • Nebraska Service Center 
    • Employment-based adjustment applications - 8.5 to 23 months
    • Based on grant of asylum over 1 year ago - 8 to 31.5 months
    • Based on refugee admission over 1 year ago - 7 to 13 months
    • Under HRIFA, IndoChinese Adjustment Act, Legal Immigration and Family Equity Act, or Nicaraguan Adjustment and Central American Relief Act (NACARA) - 12.5 to 79.5 months
  • Texas Service Center
    • Employment-based adjustment applications - 8.5 to 23 months
    • Based on grant of asylum over 1 year ago - 8 to 31.5 months
  • Vermont Service Center
    • Based on an approved T visa - 17.5 to 20.5 months
    • Based on an approved U visa - 12 to 25 months
  • Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization

  • California Service Center
    • Haiti extension - 3 to 5 months
    • Based on pending I-485 application - 3.5 to 5.5 months
    • All other work authorization applications - 10 to 13 months
  • National Benefits Center
    • Based on pending I-485 application - 5.5 to 7.5 months
    • All work authorization applications - 2.5 to 5 months
  • Nebraska Service Center
    • Based on approved asylum application - 3 to 5 months
    • Based on a pending asylum application - 3 to 5 months
    • Based on a pending I-485 adjustment - 4 to 6 months
    • All other work authorization applications - 4 to 6 months
  • Potomac Service Center
    • Based on a request by a qualified F-1 Academic student - 2 to 5 months
    • Based on a pending asylum request - 2.5 to 4.5 months
    • All other work authorization applications - 2.5 to 5 months
  • Texas Service Center
    • Based on a request by a qualified F-1 Academic student - 1.5 to 5 months
    • Based on a pending asylum request - 1.5 to 3.5 months
    • Based on a pending I-485 adjustment - 1.5 to 5 months
    • All other work authorization applications 1.5 to 5 months
  • Vermont Service Center
    • Based on a pending I-485 adjustment - 4.5 to 6.5 months
    • Based on an approved and concurrently filed I-821D - 3 to 5 months
    • Based on Temporary Protected Status - 3 to 5 months
    • All other work authorization applications - 3 to 5 months
  • Form I-821D, Consideration of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals

  • California Service Center
    • Request for deferred action - 8.5 to 11 months
  • Nebraska Service Center
    • Request for deferred action - 6 to 8 months
    • Deferred action renewal - 2 to 5.5 months
  • Vermont Service Center
    • Request for deferred action - 8.5 to 11 months
    • Deferred action renewal - 9 to 11.5 months
  • Form I-90, Application to Replace Permanent Residence Card

  • Potomac Service Center
    • Initial issuance or replacement - 6 to 14 months
    • 10 year renewal - 8.5 to 10.5 months
  • Form N-400, Application for Naturalization

  • Los Angeles, CA Field Office
    • Application for Naturalization - 12 to 21 months
  • Houston, TX Field Office
    • Application for Naturalization - 12.5 to 30 months
  • New York City, NY Field Office
    • Application for Naturalization - 14.5 to 26.5 months
  • Chicago, IL Field Office
    • Application for Naturalization - 10.5 to 26 months
  • Phoenix, AZ Field Office
    • Application for Naturalization - 11 to 18 months

How Long Does it Take the National Visa Center to Process Immigration Applications?

The National Visa Center receives applications from both direct applicants and USCIS. These are processed as they are received. Green card processing times can vary drastically based on volume, regulation changes, and other factors. They the average processing time for the different types of immigrant visa applications on their website and keep them current with regular updates.

How Long Does the Whole Application Process Take?

The application process from start to finish can vary drastically in length depending on a multitude of factors. These can be simple things that impact nearly every visa application, such as your relationship to the sponsor, or be complicated problems that are unique to your specific case and rely on an in-depth understanding of U.S. immigration law. 

You can check the websites of USCIS and the NVS for the average wait time of different types of visa applications. Additionally, you may wish to consult with an experienced immigration lawyer. Someone with an in-depth knowledge of the U.S. immigration system should be able to give you an idea more specific to your particular case.

Work with an Experienced Immigration Lawyer

At the Law Office of Jason A. Dennis, our immigration attorneys have experience with every area of U.S. immigration law. If you are filing an immigrant visa or citizenship application you will want to avoid mistakes on your paperwork that could cost you valuable time in the filing process. 

Contact us today for help filing your paperwork or for any legal advice to make the immigration process as smooth as possible. We will do everything we can to assist you in filing documents, responding to requests for evidence, dealing with immigration officials, and anything else that comes up as you look to secure your resident status

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