How Long Does it Take to Immigrate to the United States

Essential Steps to Get an Immigrant Visa In most cases, someone must sponsor you or file an immigrant petition for you. Wait until the petition is approved and a visa is available in your category. Then apply for an immigrant visa. ... Get a medical examination. Go to an interview. Wait for a decision on your application.

How Long Does it Take to Immigrate to the United States

Do you want to immigrate to the United States of America? Then you should be prepared and know what the process involves and what requirements you have to meet to immigrate to the United States.

Moreover, immigrating to the United States is often a complicated process. Therefore, if you are planning on immigrating to the US, then you should be prepared for it to be a long process. Before you begin your immigration journey, you will need to understand what the process involves.

Furthermore, applying for an immigrant visa to the US is an earnest process. Applicants will have to submit paperwork that sometimes spans several years of their lives and make their case in front of immigration officers numerous times. So, how long does it take to immigrate to the United States? This can vary depending on the specifics of your case. That is to say, if you are applying for a marriage visa or green card, the wait time may vary from that of a work visa.

There are a number of different visa types and the more common ones are fiancée, family, and employment visas that a foreign national can apply for to start the immigration process. However, keep on reading this article to learn more and find out how long it takes to immigrate to the United States.

How Long Does it Take to Immigrate to the United States on a Marriage Visa?

Each year, thousands of couples get married and a loved one starts their journey toward US citizenship. Many foreign nationals have married American citizens over the years. However, getting married to a US citizen does not mean you can become a citizen right away. Rather, the possibility of obtaining a green card opens up as the spouse of a US citizen.

Meanwhile, there are several things that affect the amount of time it takes to obtain a marriage-based green card. Factors such as the immigration status and the residence of the parties involved will be important in determining how quickly the visa can be obtained.

However, the US citizen will be the one who has to start the process. The US citizen will file Form I-129F and will also gather the right supporting documentation. Then, the USCIS will start processing the petition. Moreover, if the petition is approved, the immigrant will go online to complete a visa application. Then, the couples should marry within 90 days once the visa gets approved. After that, the immigrant should apply for a new visa.

Furthermore, the process can be slowed down in case of any problems during the application process. Such as criminal convictions, medical issues, and overstaying a previous visa's limit. It may even lead to declining the immigration application in worse situations. Meanwhile, if you are applying for a marriage green card. You can expect to get your green card within 19 to 17 months if you are married to a US citizen. However, if you are married to a green card holder, then the wait time will be within 23 to 38 months.

How Long Does it Take to Immigrate to the United States on a Work Visa?

Each year the United States government gives employment visas to different categories based on percentages. However, the waiting times for processing are different depending on the demand for that visa. Moreover, there are about 140,000 individuals per year who can immigrate under the five employment preferences per year. The employment preferences are as follows:

  • 1st Preference Priority Workers are given 28.6% of the employment-based preference in the world. Moreover, they are offered the numbers that aren’t allocated to the 5th and 4th preferences.
  • 2nd Preference Persons of Exceptional Ability or Members of the Professions with Advanced Degrees are given 28.6%. Numbers not allocated to the 1st preference are also allocated to this category.
  • 3rd Preference Skilled Workers, Professionals, and Other Workers receive 28.6% of the worldwide level, as well as the numbers that are not given to the 2nd and 1st categories.
  • 4th Preference Certain Special immigrants get 7.1%.
  • 5th Preference Employment Creation gets 7.1% from the worldwide level.

There is no per country backlog, the average processing time for a labor certification/ visa petition/ adjustment of status process is approximately 1½ to 3 years. However, to make the processing time shorter, make sure that all your documents are in order and that there are no mistakes in your application. Otherwise, the USCIS will send the application back in case of mistakes or missing documents. Which will then, extend the processing time even further.

Factors That Affect Your Ability to Immigrate to the United States

The overall cap on the number of people who can immigrate to the United States every year, and how soon the documents are sent and the embassy interview takes place are factors that influence how fast someone is going to immigrate to the United States. However, that's not all, there are other factors that also affect how quickly a person can immigrate to the US. There are as follows:

The Allocations Between Visa Preferences

Not every preference category has the same number allocated under the law. And not every preference category has the same demand. For instance, the family 1st preference category is allocated 23,400 visa numbers per year. Meanwhile, the family 4th preference category is allocated 65,000 visas annually.

Unfortunately, the allotment is often not enough as there are millions of people waiting to get visas. Just as in the Fourth Preference where the 65,000 visas allotment per year cannot meet the current demand of over 1.5 million people waiting for visas.

The Beneficiary's Country of Nationality

There is a yearly per-country limit established by Congress. Currently, four countries are always reaching their annual limit respectively India, Mexico, China, and the Philippines. Therefore, people who are from these aforementioned countries and wish to immigrate to the United States are likely to have to wait longer to immigrate than persons in the same preference category who apply from other countries.

Preference Category Fall Down

Moreover, the law requires that all allotted numbers should be used every year. However, under certain circumstances, some categories may not use all numbers. In such cases, the remaining numbers usually fall into a lower preference category.

Bottom Line

Keep in mind that the green card processing time will depend on several factors. Such as your country of origin, whether you send all the documents on time, and whether you book the US embassy interview soon enough. However, one way to keep your processing time to a minimum is to ensure you file your application and supporting documents correctly on your first try. Moreover, you should also check the visa bulletin for the most up-to-date details on the processing/ wait times for each visa category. And also to know when you’ll be able to receive your green card. You can also read our guide on How to Check the Status of Your Passport.