“So how long will my immigration case take?”
We hear that one a lot. This is the most common question we think immigration attorneys receive.
It is not a crystal clear black and white answer, regrettably. It will depend a great deal on the type of case you have. Are you applying at the consulate or are you filing a change of status for an extension of stay or are you filing to modify your existing status to that of a permanent resident within the United States?
The processing timeframe can vary considerably depending on whether or not you are within the United States or outside of the United States and where you are currently located. If in the United States, Immigration legal professionals essentially deal in rough estimates when providing their clients with processing times.
We understand it’s frustrating not to have a fixed time frame. Numerous issues impact the processing time that are outside of your control. For example, staffing changes within the office and even war time conflicts that can close embassies. That might impact the length of your case. Having said that, the very first type of processing time you want to determine is the approximate time it takes for your attorney to follow your case.
The lawyer might require documentation from you that could take you weeks, if not months to obtain. Such as, death certificates, prior divorce decrees and additional documents issued from a particular state agency. As soon as the case is filed with immigration, your lawyer can provide you with a better idea of immigration processing days. If your case is being held by a service center of the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), you can visit their website at, “uscis.gov.”
Once you arrive on their website, find the processing time page and go to the service center for regular monthly printouts for that particular service center. You can even keep track of this on a monthly basis as new service center reports are produced and released. You can also determine how quick CIS is moving primarily based on the date of the data files they are currently viewing and deciding.
Whenever a case has been transferred to a nearby district office, you could also visit CIS’s website to estimate the approximate time the office is requiring, on average on, for that type of case. Within the processing reports, CIS will list their oldest case. For example, if your case was filed on October 1st, 2016 and CIS is currently looking at cases filed in July, 2016, this info will allow you to make an educated guess about your case.
In this example, you can see from the printout on the CIS’s website that it’s going to take you at least three additional months before they begin working on your case. Also, you can request an Info pass appointment so that you can visit your local CIS office to determine why your case is not moving through the system. If your case is past due, your attorney can also request your CIS to provide you with an explanation. These inquiries are typically requested 60 days beyond the standard processing time.
If you find yourself waiting for a final decision on the adjustment status of your case, you should not be alarmed if you discovered that your local CIS failed to respond to your inquiries, if your green card interview was less than six months ago.; it’s common policy for the CIS office not to respond to inquiries under these circumstances. If you are attempting to determine how long it’s going to take to obtain the consulate, then you should begin with the service center processing times for CIS. Despite the fact that your case begins in the U.S, if an immigrant visa is sent to the National Visa Center (NVC) for approval, it may take additional time because the NVC has its own processing times.
After you have submitted your documentation to the NVC for your immigrant Visa, the NVC will arrange your interview with the consulate abroad. Once you know that your interview has been scheduled, you can monitor your local consulate’s website for processing times on their cases. Some consulate websites are far better than others with respect to informing users about their processing time. Remember, you can always seek the advice of your attorney to determine whether Visa times on their website continue to be accurate.
If you happen to be married to a U.S. citizen or have an immediate relative sponsoring you, you are most likely subject to Department of State Visa Bulletin (DSVB). The Bulletin is a document that tracks the priority dates of all Visa applications by means of family members and employers for immigrants who are subject to the Visa quota system. Each month, the U.S. Department of State publishes the Visa Bulletin, which suggests how quickly Visa numbers are becoming obtainable in the category that you or your attorney filed your case under.
Hence, even if your immigrant Visa has been approved by a CIS service center, the Visa will not be sent to the NVC until your Visa number is current or a priority date is current. if you are not within an immediate relative category, which is defined as a parent or child under the age of 21 or spouse of a U.S. citizen. Many employment-based categories are also subject to the Visa Bulletin, and you are not automatically eligible for green card application. In these situations, the CIS routes a file to the NVC and the NVC will halt the process until the Visa number becomes available.
You can keep track of the Visa number availability on the Visa Bulletin every single month. Whenever your Visa number becomes current, then NVC will begin sending you information informing you how to obtain a scheduled Visa appointment at your consulate. If you are not within the consulate processing but are still subject to the Visa quota system, then during the CIS green card interview, you are going to need to show that when you applied for your green card, you have maintained balanced status the entire time you have been in the U.S.
To determine if your Visa number is obtainable so you can apply for a green card based on an approved immigrant Visa, visit the State Department’s website at, “travel.state.gov” and search under Visa Bulletin. We often suggest that you keep track of the last three (3) months of Visa Bulletins in your specific category so that you can see how quickly the Visa numbers are becoming obtainable. It is incredibly important to talk with an immigration attorney regarding how long your case may take before you start to determine if there is a way that you can legally stay in the U.S. while your case is pending if that is your goal.
Understanding the processing times is very important, especially when determining whether you can keep your current job or apply for a new one depending on how long a Visa will take to obtain. There may be other options for you that are not discussed in this article. Contact us for additional information.