Waiting for your green card can feel like a lifetime if you applied for adjustment of status and are eager to secure a job in the United States.
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services is not known for its fast turnaround times and adjustment of status applications are no exception. Generally, after filing form I-485 and related paperwork, you can expect to wait from 8 to 14 months to be approved for a green card. However, the COVID-19 pandemic and staffing issues are leading to longer waits and more frustration for applicants.
However, all applications are unique, and your wait time will depend on factors including your category of adjustment of status, which service center is processing the application, and other factors outside your control.
Although nobody wants to wait for months on end, you can work while you wait for a decision if you successfully apply for a work permit.
You can check USCIS processing times on the department’s website. Simply visit the processing page, select form I-485 Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjustment Status, select the form category, and the service center.
For example, the processing time for a family-based adjustment of status at the Norfolk office is 20 months for 80% of cases in 2022. Employment-based adjustment of status applications take slightly less time; 19 months for 80% of cases in Norfolk. However, refugee-based admissions take 29 months to process with applicants restricted to the Nebraska service center. Most people who were granted asylum face a wait of a lengthy 40.5 months for adjustment of status.
How Much Time Does it Typically Take to Get Final Approval on Adjustment of Status?
Wait times can vary within categories. While processing times are typically under two years for people married to U.S. citizens, people married to permanent residents can expect to wait 29 to 38 months.
Applicants for adjustment of status face a series of steps before they know if their I-485 has been approved or denied.
The first communication you will receive from USCIS is likely to be the confirmation of receipt of your application. This is Form I-797C, Notice of Action. You should receive it no later than three weeks after filing. The form contains a 10-digit number that you should use to check the status of your case.
If you did not properly file form I-485, USCIS will send you a Notice of Action to reject your application or request additional evidence, resulting in further processing delays.
You should receive a notice for your biometrics appointment about 3-5 weeks after filing I-485. An official will take your fingerprint, your photo, and check your signature to run a criminal background check.
The important next step is the green card interview at your local USCIS office. It can take anything from seven to 15 months after filing to receive an interview date. Aim to keep this appointment because it may take several months longer to get a date if you reschedule. USCIS may ask for additional documentation to support your eligibility for a green card.
It’s important to take the marriage adjustment of status interview seriously. Our Virginia Beach-based immigration lawyers can help you prepare for the interview. This can smooth the process and may prevent hiccups that can delay or derail the application.
Once you have attended the green card interview, the end of the process is in sight. However, it can still take several weeks before you find out if your application was approved or denied. If USCIS approved your application, your green card will arrive in the mail soon after you were notified of the decision.
Adjustment of status can be a painfully long and stressful process, but a green card establishes your residency in the United States and puts you firmly on the path to citizenship. It makes sense to hire an immigration lawyer to avoid unnecessary delays that can add extra months to an already drawn-out process. Call our immigration lawyers at (757) 464-9224.
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