Stay Informed: 2023 Processing Times for USCIS Green Card and Citizenship

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What's the Expected Wait for USCIS Processing?

Questions like "How long will it take?" dominate the experience of filing for U.S. immigration, sparking a mix of anticipation and impatience. Thankfully, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) offers clarity on this issue. As the agency tasked with handling applications for green cards, citizenship, and other immigration-related matters, USCIS regularly updates the average processing times for various immigration forms, including the I-130, I-129F, and the N-400 naturalization form. This resource allows applicants to gauge if their case is processing within the expected timeframe or if reaching out to USCIS for a case status update is warranted. Staying informed through the USCIS website can help manage expectations and prepare for the next steps in the immigration process.

Trends in USCIS Processing Times by Quarter

Analyzing USCIS's historical data offers insight into the processing timelines for immigration applications, using trends over Fiscal Years (FY), which span from October 1 of the preceding year to September 30. For example, FY 2023 covers the period from October 1, 2022, to September 30, 2023. USCIS updates and publishes processing times for critical immigration forms every quarter. In the first quarter of FY 2023, processing times for Forms I-485 and I-130 (when the sponsor is a U.S. citizen) saw notable improvements, whereas the wait for Form I-129F continued to be lengthy. The processing duration for Form I-130, with a green card holder as the sponsor, remained consistent. The accompanying graph illustrates the fluctuations in wait times over recent years, providing a visual representation of trends. Further details on the wait times for various forms will follow.

Green Card Application Processing Durations

Form I-130 ("Petition for Alien Relative") Processing Times:

  1. For U.S. citizens sponsoring a spouse (CR1 visa), the average wait is 11.9 months.
  2. For green card holders sponsoring a spouse (F2A visa), the processing time extends to about 25 months.

Adding an extra layer of patience for applicants and sponsors alike can significantly affect planning and expectations for family reunification.

Form I-485 ("Application for Adjustment of Status") Processing Times:

  1. Family-based green card applications from within the U.S. are processed in roughly 11.5 months.

This timeframe underscores the importance of timely document submission to avoid delays in family members joining or staying with their loved ones in the U.S.

Form I-131 ("Application for Travel Document – Advance Parole") Processing Times:

  1. The current processing duration for advance parole documents stands at 6.1 months.

This wait affects applicants’ ability to travel internationally and return to the U.S. without jeopardizing their adjustment of status applications.

Form I-765 ("Application for Employment Authorization Document") Processing Times:

  1. Work permit applications are presently taking 6.7 months to process.

The wait time for work authorization impacts applicants’ ability to start working and earning a livelihood in the U.S. during their immigration process.

Fiancé Visa Processing Durations

Form I-129F ("Petition for Alien Fiancé(e)") Processing Times:

  1. The first step in the K-1 visa process is averaging a 6-month processing period.

Timely reunification is crucial for couples planning their future together, making this wait period a significant aspect of their immigration journey.

Naturalization Application Processing Durations

Form N-400 ("Application for Naturalization") Processing Times:

  1. The processing times for U.S. citizenship applications have decreased to an average of 6.4 months in 2023.

This reduction in processing times is a positive trend for permanent residents eager to take the final step in their American immigration journey by becoming U.S. citizens.

Understanding the USCIS processing timeframes

USCIS manages an extensive influx of applications through its numerous field offices scattered across the U.S., assigning each applicant to a field office based on their geographical location as indicated by their ZIP code. The volume of applications each field office handles varies significantly, influencing the speed at which applications are processed. This variance is particularly notable when comparing field offices in smaller regions to those in densely populated cities like New York or Los Angeles, where wait times can be considerably longer.

Monthly updates on processing times for each field office are provided by USCIS, offering transparency and insights into expected wait periods. Applicants can identify which field office is managing their case by inputting their ZIP code on the USCIS website, which then directs them to the appropriate office. Notably, certain applications, including Form I-130 and Form I-129, are processed by USCIS service centers rather than field offices.

To ascertain the processing times for your specific application, USCIS offers a Case Processing Time tool online. After selecting your application type and the corresponding field office or service center, the tool displays processing times as a range, illustrating the median completion time and the time by which 93% of cases are resolved. For instance, the range for naturalization applications (Form N-400) at the Seattle, WA field office might be shown as 12.5 to 36 months, offering a realistic expectation of wait times based on recent data. This range helps applicants gauge the timeline for the majority of cases within the current period, with updates provided weekly for accuracy and planning purposes.

Steps to Take If Your USCIS Application Delay Seems Excessive

Navigating the USCIS case update system online offers a straightforward method for applicants to stay informed on their application status. Yet, the approach to querying about delays varies for applicants inside versus outside the U.S. Understandably, processing entails a waiting period. However, discerning when a delay becomes unusually prolonged and how to address it with USCIS is key. Initially, utilize the USCIS processing times tool to review the expected timelines for the office or service center managing your case. Detailed at the tool's page bottom, you'll find a list of case types under your specific form. Select your relevant category to view the “Receipt date for a case inquiry” on the right side.

Reference the receipt date on your USCIS confirmation documents. Should your application predate this and remain unanswered, it signals eligibility to submit a Case Inquiry with USCIS for insight on your application's status. For updates on cases exceeding usual processing times, complete the e-form available on the USCIS site. This action prompts a review of your case and a subsequent explanation for any hold-ups. Remember, this inquiry method is pertinent only when your application predates the designated “Receipt date for case inquiry.” Reaching out during standard processing times typically yields a standard response, advising patience. Leveraging this tool effectively can alleviate concerns and provide clarity on processing delays.

Last Updated 05/14/24 11:15:09AM

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