Explaining the Average Processing Timeline of Obtaining a Marriage Based Green Card

How Long Does it Take to Get a Marriage Based Green Card if the spouse is in the U.S.?

The processing time for obtaining a marriage-based green card (Adjustment of Status) when the spouse is already in the U.S. can vary based on several factors, including the applicant’s individual circumstances, the USCIS processing times, and the specific USCIS Service Center handling the case. The general processing time can range from several months to over a year. Here are some key factors that can influence the timeline:

  • USCIS Processing Times: USCIS processing times can vary based on the Service Center that is handling your case. Different Service Centers may have different backlogs and processing speeds. You can check the USCIS website for current processing time estimates for Form I-485 (Adjustment of Status) for your specific Service Center.
  • Completeness of Application: Submitting a complete and accurate application package with all required forms and supporting documentation can help expedite the process. Incomplete or inaccurate applications may result in delays due to Requests for Evidence (RFEs) or denials.
  • Biometrics Appointment: After submitting your Adjustment of Status application, you will typically receive a notice for a biometrics appointment. Attending the appointment promptly is crucial, as USCIS uses biometric data for background checks.
  • Background Checks and Security Clearances: USCIS conducts various background checks and security clearances as part of the application process. The duration of these checks can impact the overall processing time.
  • Interview Appointment: In some cases, USCIS may schedule an interview as part of the Adjustment of Status process. The interview is typically conducted to verify the authenticity of the relationship and other information in the application.
  • Visa Bulletin: For certain family-sponsored categories, the availability of visa numbers based on the Visa Bulletin can affect the processing time. If the visa category is oversubscribed, it could result in waiting until a visa number becomes available.
  • COVID-19 Impact: Processing times were also affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, with potential delays due to office closures, reduced staffing, and safety measures.
  • Request for Expedited Processing: In some cases, you may be eligible to request expedited processing if you can demonstrate urgent reasons for faster processing.

To get the most up-to-date information on processing times and to track the status of your specific case, you can visit the USCIS website or contact the USCIS National Customer Service Center. Additionally, consulting with an experienced immigration attorney can help you navigate the process, understand potential timelines, and address any specific concerns you may have.

How Long Does it Take to Get a Marriage Based Green Card if the spouse is abroad?

The processing time for obtaining a marriage-based green card when the spouse is abroad (consular processing) can vary based on several factors, including the specific visa category, the country where the spouse is located, and individual circumstances. We can provide you with a general idea of the processing timeline, but please note that these times can change and it’s important to check the most up-to-date information from the U.S. Department of State or the specific U.S. embassy or consulate involved.

Here’s a general breakdown of the process and timeframes:

  • Filing Form I-130: The first step is for the U.S. citizen or green card holder spouse to file Form I-130, “Petition for Alien Relative,” on behalf of the foreign spouse. USCIS processing times for Form I-130 can range from a few months to over a year.
  • National Visa Center (NVC) Processing: After Form I-130 is approved by USCIS, the case is transferred to the National Visa Center (NVC). NVC processing times can vary, but typically take several months.
  • Choice of Agent and Payment of Fees: The NVC will provide instructions for selecting an agent and paying the required visa application and processing fees.
  • Form DS-260: The foreign spouse needs to complete Form DS-260, “Immigrant Visa and Alien Registration Application,” online. After submitting the form, there might be additional processing time.
  • Document Submission: The NVC will request various documents, such as civil documents, police certificates, and financial evidence. The processing time for document submission can vary based on the availability of the required documents.
  • Consular Interview Scheduling: After the NVC has received and reviewed the required documents, they will schedule an interview appointment at the U.S. embassy or consulate in the foreign spouse’s home country. The wait time for interview scheduling can vary depending on the embassy or consulate’s workload.
  • Consular Interview: The foreign spouse attends the consular interview at the U.S. embassy or consulate. If the interview goes well, the visa may be approved on the spot, or the case could require further administrative processing.
  • Visa Issuance: Once the visa is approved, the foreign spouse will receive the visa in their passport, allowing them to travel to the U.S.
  • Entry to the U.S.: After entering the U.S. with the immigrant visa, the foreign spouse becomes a lawful permanent resident (green card holder).

Overall, the consular processing timeline can range from several months to a year or more, depending on various factors. The timeline can be influenced by the specific embassy or consulate, the visa category, the completeness of documentation, security checks, and other factors. It’s recommended to check with the U.S. embassy or consulate where the processing will take place for the most accurate and up-to-date processing time estimates.

How can I expedite my marriage green card?

Expedited processing of a marriage-based green card (Adjustment of Status) is possible in certain situations, but it’s important to note that expedited processing is granted at the discretion of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) and is generally reserved for cases with compelling reasons. Here are the steps and situations in which you may be able to request expedited processing:

  • Identify Eligibility: Review the USCIS criteria for requesting expedited processing to determine if your situation meets their requirements. USCIS considers the following reasons for expedited processing:
    • Severe financial loss to a company or individual.
    • Emergency situations.
    • Humanitarian reasons.
    • Nonprofit organization’s request for furthering cultural and social interests.
    • Department of Defense or national interest situation.
  • Gather Documentation: Collect supporting documentation that demonstrates the urgency or compelling need for expedited processing. The documentation should clearly show how your situation meets one of the USCIS criteria.
  • Contact USCIS: If you believe your case meets the criteria for expedited processing, contact USCIS. The method of contact can vary depending on the type of application. You can call the USCIS National Customer Service Center or use the USCIS online platform to make an expedite request.
  • Provide Evidence: Be prepared to provide evidence supporting your request for expedited processing. This may include documents, letters, medical records, or other evidence that illustrates the urgency or compelling circumstances.
  • Follow USCIS Instructions: USCIS will provide instructions on how to submit your request for expedited processing. Follow their guidance carefully and submit all required documents.
  • Wait for Decision: After submitting your request, USCIS will review the information and evidence provided. They will make a determination on whether to grant expedited processing based on the information you’ve provided.
  • USCIS Decision: USCIS will notify you of their decision regarding your request for expedited processing. If your request is approved, your case will be moved ahead in the processing queue.
  • Monitor Your Case: Continue to monitor the progress of your case through the USCIS online platform or by contacting the USCIS National Customer Service Center.

It’s important to note that USCIS evaluates expedited processing requests on a case-by-case basis, and not all requests will be granted. Additionally, requesting expedited processing does not guarantee that it will be approved. USCIS assesses each situation to determine whether it meets the criteria for expedited processing. If your request is denied, your case will continue to be processed according to the standard processing times.

If you believe you have a compelling reason for expedited processing, it’s advisable to consult with an experienced immigration attorney. An attorney can guide you through the process, help you gather the necessary documentation, and provide you with the best chance of a successful expedited processing request.

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