How Long Does It Take to Get a Green Card?

How long does it take to get a Green Card? Get answers to this and more immigration questions from Manji Law, P.C. today. Call us for more information.

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Atlanta Immigration Attorney Jameel Manji

Author: Jameel Manji, Founder, Manji Law, P.C.

Mr. Manji founded Manji Law in 2016 to follow his passion of helping people navigate the complicated immigration system. Mr. Manji graduated from Georgia State University College of Law and received Master of Taxation from the Georgia State’s J. Mack Robinson College of Business. Published on: September 11, 2023.

Manji Law is your complete immigration solution. If you are seeking assistance with the Atlanta Immigration Court, please give us a call. Manji Law can provide valuable insight, assistance, and a guiding hand to help you achieve your goals.

How Long Does It Take to Get a Green Card?


You just submitted your green card application. But, you are wondering how long it would take to receive a reply from the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). You are not alone. This is an essential question asked by several green card applicants.

Knowing when to expect a response from the USCIS keeps your mind at ease. Having a timeline also allows you to properly prepare for various stages of the process, such as the interview stage.

Unfortunately, there is no simple answer to this question. Green card processing times vary depending on a range of circumstances. However, consulting with reputable attorneys like one from Manji Law, P.C. may reduce wait times and improve your chance of success.

Read on to learn more about green card processing times.


Determining Green Card Processing Times

The processing time for green card applications may vary based on different factors. The following factors may affect the green card process:

  • The type or category of green card you are applying for
  • The number of applications the USCIS receives (USCIS workload)
  • The annual limit and per-country quotas
  • The USCIS field office or service center
  • Any requests for additional evidence
  • Your location when filing the application

Processing Times for Family-Based Green Cards


There are several routes through which you can become a green card holder. The most common route is through a family-based adjustment of status application. The processing times for each category differs based on your relationship with the sponsor.

Certain green cards are reserved for family members and immediate relatives of U.S. citizens. There are no yearly caps for the immediate relatives of U.S. citizens. Immediate relatives include spouses, parents, and unmarried children under twenty-one. They will receive their green card once the USCIS approves their application.

However, a limited number of green cards are available for other relatives. These include the following:

  • Married children
  • Siblings
  • Foreign spouses of green card holders

The USCIS periodically updates the processing times for green card applications online. The USCIS webpage provides the average time for processing applications in different service centers.

Marriage-Based Green Cards

A marriage-based green card allows you to bring a spouse to the U.S. permanently. It falls under the family-based green card category. The processing time for a marriage green card depends on the time and location of filing. It also depends on whether the sponsoring spouse is a U.S. citizen or a green card holder.

If your spouse is a U.S. citizen and you live in the U.S., you can apply for a green card by adjusting your status through Form I-485. The processing time for Form I-485 is between 12 months to 39 months.

If your spouse is a U.S. citizen and you live abroad, your spouse must apply through Form I-130 (Petition for Alien Relative). The processing time for Form I-130 is between 13.5 and 50 months. After your Form I-130 application is approved, you can file Form I-485 application through consular processing. Your citizen spouse may file both applications together through concurrent filing. Concurrent filing reduces the waiting period.

If your spouse is a permanent resident and you live abroad, your spouse must apply for Form I-130. It will take between 28.5 and 60 months to process your application. After approval, you must wait until an immigrant visa is available to apply for a green card. You may also confirm your priority date on the Department of State’s visa bulletin.


Green Cards for Children

The processing times for green card applications filed on behalf of children are as follows:

  • Unmarried children (under 21) of U.S. citizens: 12 and 39 months
  • Unmarried adult children (21 or older) of U.S. citizens: 29 and 77.5 months
  • Married adult children of U.S. citizens: 38 and 106.5 months
  • Unmarried children (under 21) of green card holders: 28.5 and 60 months
  • Unmarried adult children of permanent residents: 32.5 and 69 months


Green Cards for Parents

You can apply for your parents to permanently move to America if you are a U.S. citizen aged 21 or older. The processing time for green cards for parents in the U.S. is between 12 months to 39 months. The average processing time is between 13.5 and 50 months if they are abroad.

Employment-Based Green Cards


If you are in the U.S. and have secured a job, your employer can file Form I-140 on your behalf. Form I-140 (Petition for Alien Workers) confirms that you meet the job requirements. It also verifies that your employer has the financial ability to pay for the position. After the USCIS approves the Form I-140 application, you can apply for Form I-485. The timeframe for processing these applications is between 7.5 and 53.5 months.

Before you can apply for Form I-485, you must wait for your priority date to become available.


How Does the USCIS Yearly Limit Affect Processing Times?


Although you are eligible for a green card, you may not receive one in the same year you apply. The per-country quota for the yearly issue of green cards is seven percent. Therefore, countries can receive more than seven percent of the green cards available in a particular category. This may result in a delay for applicants in countries with high demand.

There is a cap on the number of green cards the USCIS can issue yearly. The current yearly cap for a family-based green card is 226,000. For employment-based green cards, the cap is 140,000.

How Do Requests for Evidence Affect Processing Times?


The USCIS may request additional evidence during the green card process. This allows them to confirm the information provided and complete your application. There is usually a timeframe for responding to a Request for Evidence (RFE). They may need additional time to complete your application due to backlogs.

The USCIS may deny your application if you fail to respond promptly. If you are in the U.S. and your visa has expired, you must leave immediately. Sometimes, you may be eligible to obtain a green card through INA 245(i) after overstaying.


Get in Touch With an Immigration Lawyer


Having little or no knowledge of your green card processing time can be frustrating. If you want to apply for a green card, consulting an immigration lawyer can help the process go smoothly. Attorneys at Manji Law P. C. can help you file your green card application properly. This would enable the USCIS adjudicator to process your application more quickly.

At Manji Law P. C., we work with you throughout the application process until you get a green card. We can also monitor your application after filing and inform you of any USCIS changes. If you have questions about processing times or want to file for a green card, contact us today.