FAQ

I am a green card holder in the USA. I would like to sponsor my husband to the USA. How long will it take?
The answer to this question depends on two things:Did you marry your husband before or after you became a permanent resident?Was the reason you were able to immigrate to the United States is because you are the “immediate relative” of a US citizen?If the answer to the first question is “after”, then you can sponsor your husband to immigrate as the spouse of a lawful permanent resident, a petition in family second preference, subpreference A (F2A). Visa numbers for preference category F2A currently have a wait of about 12 to 18 months.If the answer to the first question is “before”, then your husband was originally, and is most likely now still, entitled to immigrate as a derivative beneficiary on your petition unless you immigrated as the “immediate relative” of a US citizen.If you did not immigrate as an “immediate relative” of a US citizen (that is, your immigration petition was employment-based, family-based other than as an immediate relative, or based on some other provision of immigration law such as the diversity lottery) your husband can obtain a green card “immediately” as a “follow-to-join” derivative beneficiary on your previously-granted petition by filing form I-485 (and form I-824 if he is not currently present in the US), along with sufficient evidence to show that you and he were legally married on the date that your immigrant petition was granted. You may have difficulties if you did not declare him as your spouse on your original I-130/I-140, or if a significant time has passed since you immigrated or adjusted status, as there may be some question why he did not immigrate with you at the time you immigrated or adjusted status. In practice, if there are no problems, this process should take only a few months.If you did immigrate as an immediate relative of a US citizen, which in this case could only be because you have a child 21 years or older who is a US citizen and who sponsored you to immigrate, your spouse cannot immigrate as a derivative because immediate-relative petitions do not allow for derivative beneficiaries. In this situation, if your husband is the natural or legal parent of that child, or if he is not but you married your husband before your child turned 16, your child (but not you) can sponsor him on a separate petition as an immediate relative. If you married your husband after your child turned 16, your child cannot treat him as a stepfather, and you will need to file for him in F2A (the same as the case in which you married him after entering the US), and can expect the process to take 12 to 18 months.
How long does getting a green card take?
Thanks for your question! However, the answer to it heavily depends on several different factors including, among other things:The type of green card you are seekingYour current qualificationsYour country of originThe service center that is processing your petitionAs such, I’ll go over the basic processing times for the broader categories of green cards to cover the basics. A green card is referred to as an “immigrant visa” by the USCIS. This is in contrast to the temporary “nonimmigrant visas” such as the H-1B. A green card grants the holder lawful permanent residence in the U.S., allowing that person to enjoy many of the benefits that citizens have.The main steps to most green cards are these:Your sponsor files a petitionThe USCIS receives and processes your petitionYou wait for your priority date to be currentYou either file to adjust your status or go through consular processingYou receive your green cardHere is a quick rundown on priority dates if you are not familiar with them. The date that the USCIS receives your petition becomes your personal priority date. Each month, the Department of State releases “final action dates” in a visa bulletin that you will need to keep track of. The final action dates are divided according to the type of green card as well as the beneficiary’s country of origin. Once your priority date matches or passes the date in your section, you can move onto the next step toward your green card. Keep in mind that this step could take no time at all or it could take years. It all depends on which section you are in. For example, someone from India who is applying for an F-4 green card will find much longer waiting times than someone from El Salvador who is applying for an EB-2 green card.There are several different avenues that you can use to obtain a green card, many of which have to do with your sponsor.Family-Based ImmigrationIf you decide to get your green card through your family, you will need a sponsor who is either a U.S. citizen or a green card holders themselves. Your processing time will heavily depend on who your sponsor is. If your sponsor is a U.S. citizen who is an immediate relative (such as a spouse, child, adopted orphan, or parent), then you will not have to wait for your priority date to be current before moving onto the next step. There are always visas available for immediate relatives.On the other hand if you are a married child, a child over the age of 21, or a sibling of a U.S. citizen or if you are the spouse or child of a green card holder, you will need to use the F classification of green cards. These almost always have long priority date waiting times, so you will need to check the visa bulletin to determine how long it will take for your green card.Employment-Based ImmigrationFor those that wish to have their sponsor be their employer rather than a family member, there are five main preference levels of green cards that can be avenues for you to get your immigrant visa.EB-1: This is for aliens with extraordinary achievement, outstanding researchers and professors, and multinational executives and managers.EB-2: This for those who have exceptional ability, those that have advanced degrees (master’s or higher), and those that qualify for a National Interest Waiver (which will allow you to self-petition).EB-3: This is for professionals (bachelor’s degree holders), skilled workers (with two or more years of experience), and other workers (with fewer than two years of experience).EB-4: This for specialty workers. Click here to see the list of occupations that qualify.EB-5: This green card is based on your investment rather than your employer. You need to invest at least $1 million in a U.S. business or $500,000 in a U.S. business in a rural or underemployed area.The EB-1, EB-2, EB-4, and EB-5 tend to have short priority date waiting periods, but that fluctuates regularly. Occasionally, the EB-1 category will be oversubscribed and the dates will backlog for several years. Like with the family-based immigration, it all depends on which visa you are applying for and where you’re from. The more people from your country that petition for your same green card, the more backlogged the dates will become.Keep in mind that, if your priority date will not be current for some time, the USCIS may wait to begin processing your petition until that time is closer. You must wait until both your priority date is current and your petition is approved before moving onto the next step.Premium ProcessingFor many cases involving the I-130 and the I-140 petitions, the USCIS takes an average of six months to process them, all things being equal. This is dependent on the particula service center that is processing the petition. If they are busy, it may take longer.One way to get around this is to use premium processing. This is an optional feature that is only available to certain green cards that use the I-140 (the EB-1C and EB-2 NIW are excluded from premium processing). By paying the $1,225 fee and filling out an I-907 form, you can have your processing time shortened to just 15 calendar days. Keep in mind that this does not improve your chances of being approved and you will still need to wait until your priority date is current. So premium processing is primarily useful for those with current priority dates or no dates at all (like for immediate relatives).Adjustment of StatusOnce your priority date is current and your petition has been approved, you can choose one of two options. If you are currently in the U.S. at this point under a valid nonimmigrant visa, you have the option to simply adjust your status from nonimmigrant to immigrant. To do so, you need to submit an I-485 form and wait the six months for approval. Premium processing is not available to speed up the I-485.Consular ProcessingOn the other hand, if you are outside the U.S. and not under a valid visa status, you will need to use consular processing. This means that you will need to travel to the U.S. consulate or embassy in your home country to participate in a one-on-one interview with a consular officer. While this may seem less convenient, it could be the faster and also the cheaper option depending on your situation. Consular processing is available to those that are inside the U.S., but is mandatory for those that are not. You will need to allow for several weeks for the the Consulate to schedule an appointment and for that appointment date to come.RFEsIf your petition is lacking in certain documents to support your petition (such as a marriage certificate, degree, or passport copy), then the USCIS may send a Request for Evidence (RFE) rather than reject your petition outright. If you receive an RFE, don’t panic. Just be sure to hand it to your attorney, who will help you respond in an effective and timely manner. RFEs can greatly affect the time it takes to process your petition.So there you have it. There are many different kinds of green cards and each one has a different processing time. It also changes depending on your country of origin, your particular situation. Even though I don’t know which green card you are interested in, I hope that this gives you a better idea of what the processing time will be like. Of course, your immigration attorney can give you a better idea of the time it will take.This answer is not to be considered as a substitute for legal advice and does not establish an attorney-client relationship.
What is the process of adjusting the status for my spouse who is currently in a B1 visa and is visiting me in the US? I am a US citizen. Can I file his green card when he is here? What are the forms that I need to fill out, and what are the risks?
Yes you can absolutely apply while he is here. The general start of the process is that you file form I-130 to apply for his permanent stay (start of the green card process), as well as form I-485 to adjust his status. The 485 will allow your spouse to stay with you in the country while he awaits a decision and still maintain a legal status. There is no risk to his legality, as long as the forms and accompanying evidence are received by USCIS before the last day that his visa allows him to be in the country.Entry stamps are usually for no more than 6 months in the country and USCIS generally takes about 2 to 3 weeks to process and send out a receipt. Subtract those days from his date to leave, and use that as your minimum safe timeline. Keep in mind that some forms may come with restrictions in travel and he may be stuck in one place for a while e.g. I-485s may take months to process and can be voided simply by leaving the country without getting special permission in advance.Note also: Messing up the timeline can mean he may have to return to the country of origin to maintain legal status and await a decision. That may literally be a separation of numerous months to several years. In some cases, visitor’s visa may be revoked or entry denied once you put in an immigrant petition for him.After you start the process, you may also have to file a myriad of other forms, including an affidavit of support, co-sponsor form, an immigrant visa application, an application for removal of conditions, unlawful presence waiver and so on, all of which come with their own fees. USCIS will usually direct you to what forms are next, once you have completed each stage of the application.The range of forms you may have to file will change depending on the specifics of your case and the complexity will vary based on a number of factors. The simplest of these are the number of years you have been married, your spouses immigration status, but may include any number of things that you have not reported in your very general question.My advice would be to seek the help of an immigration lawyer to navigate the process. It is something you could do by yourself. The process is tedious and requires attention to detail, but is manageable. However, under the latest Trump directive, immigration officers are now simply denying applications for minor errors or insufficient information. In the past, they used to request additional documentation before denying outright, but are no longer required to do so. That would mean an error would require you to resubmit an entirely new application (once allowed), and pay all the hundreds to thousands in cash again. It may even interrupt your spouses legal status and add years to the process.No petitions are guaranteed to be approved, so it is best to be thorough and careful and avoid even the appearance of impropriety. Best of luck to you both!Disclaimer: I am not even close to being an immigration lawyer. I just work with a diverse population and have helped clients navigate this process scores of times.
My spouse filed form I-130 more than a year ago, and the processing has lingered. Now she is about to file form N-400 for herself. Will this affect the outcome of the form I-130 which she filed for me?
If your spouse is about to apply to naturalize, that must mean she is a US permanent resident, and her I-130 petition for you is currently in the F2A category for a spouse of a permanent resident. During her naturalization process and up until she takes the oath, she remains a permanent resident and nothing will change about the petition or your immigration process during that time. When she takes the oath, she becomes a US citizen, and, if you haven’t become a permanent resident at that time, the petition automatically upgrades to the Immediate Relative category, which has no wait for visa numbers. If you haven’t become a permanent resident at that time, your spouse should inform the government that she has become a citizen and that the petition should be upgraded, so the immigration process might proceed faster.
How much time does it take for a Form I-130 petition filed against a spouse to be approved after receiving an I-797C Notice of Action?
See I-130 Tracker. Petition for Alien Relative Tracker. Family Based Immigration Tracker for typical wait times. You will notice these are based on many variables.
Will USCIS processing times of I-130 (petition-spouse) be affected after Trump won the presidency?
The USCIS is fairly efficient at their process, and getting better every year. It is a politically neutral organization, if anything it leans liberal, but that’s a good thing, because you need to fudge the rules to get certain things done, as the law is conflicting in a few areas. The biggest hangup to the citizenship journey for a spouse is not the USCIS, but the supervising DHS and their secret courts. If you are from a dodgy country, yes, you might face longer waits, but if you are from a normal western country, I would guess things will go faster.I had a nightmare with the US Consulate in Vilnius getting a tourist visa for my partner, but even the consulate general (an Obama appointee) whom I cursed out on numerous occasions for being a thick moron (we made peace eventually, sort-of), got us the DCF done in a week.The process in the US was mired with long political discussions (I’m always on the wind-up), so there were politics involved, but mostly I was listening to the employees and what they felt. I can’t really say anything bad about anyone. Everyone is trying to do their job well, but bloated American bureaucracy can make even the employees of the government uptight about things. I think employees of the USCIS and DHS care about American citizens, and have been impeded by the Hillary Clintons and Jeh Johnsons of the world. These are terrible people to work for, and regardless of politics, these were not popular bosses. I’ve heard no real complaints so far from the Trump administration, so I would assume things have not got worse.Don’t forget that you can send in certain applications ahead of time (90 days before three years for citizenship), and angle your way to quicker appointments if you are nice to people. Paying attention to every detail on the forms is also a must. You don’t want anything sent back.Try to avoid the group citizenship ceremonies. Some districts make them compulsory, but other places you can do same day oath. You can get citizenship in 3 years plus one week if you time it perfectly, and they aren’t backed up. My wife got two months added to her sentence of dirty foreigner purgatory because San Diego only did the group ceremonies. We were still about 8 months ahead of schedule because I’m an annoying twat. Don’t leave things to chance, followup, dot every “I”, and cross every “T”. Stay aggressive, the worst they can do is deport your spouse. By the tone of this passive-aggressive question, you probably want to leave the US anyway. There’s little to lose.
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