How Long Does it Take to Get a Green Card?

February 15, 2015 | 0

Formally called the ‘United States Lawful Permanent Residency,’ the Green Card is an identity documentation given to foreign nationals by the US administration, allowing them to legally live in the American territories.The Green Card acts as a legal proof of the fact that the holder is an LPR or a Legal Permanent Resident of USA, who has been given immigration options such as taking employment and residing in the US territories. In simple words, it is a United States permanent visa.

Any person can file an application for US citizenship after staying in the country for 5 years. This mandatory period may be decreased to four years, if a person availed of permanent residency via political asylum detailed by Federal or international law. It is further shortened to 3 years if the person is married to a citizen of the United States.

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How Long Does it Take to Get a Green Card?

The time needed to process Green Card application requests in the US differs on a case to case basis, as per the pertaining circumstances. The procedure consists of numerous variables, and hence an accurate determination of the time frame is not possible.In some cases, the complete process, including filing of a visa application to granting of a permanent resident status, may take 2 to 3 years. In other cases, provided everything is ok, an individual can get a Green Card in about six to 12 months from the date of submitting the application.

The process of Green Card dispensation may also differ as per the results of different medical tests and verification of the mandatory and other relevant documents submitted by the applicant. It is but a foregone conclusion that any delay with regards to the above factors will lead to additional delay in the process. As a rule, the time needed for the complete process mainly depends on:

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  • The evidence and information provided by the applicant
  • And the mode chosen by the applicant.

Green card based on investment

Individuals willing to invest in America and generate ten permanent jobs for US employees can become qualified for a Green Card under the “EB-5” or the Immigrant Investor Program. The process begins with the preparation of the EB-5 petition by the applicant. This may take around 1 month. The next step, which may require another 6 months, involves filing of the I-526 petition with the USCIS or the US Citizenship and Immigration Services.

If the applicant is living in America, then he/she can file the Green Card application with the USCIS, else the application can be filed in the US consulate or embassy present in the country of residence. The process may need about 9 to 12 months. A Green Card based on investment generally takes about 15 to 18 months. After this time frame, applicants will receive a conditional Green Card. The conditions can be removed by filing the I-829 petition, which is possible only after a gap of two years.

Green Card based on employment

All the application work has to be done by the applicant. You may also need to give a copy of the employment record and/or a signed acknowledgement from the employer. Processing of an employer-sponsored Green Card involves the below listed 3 steps:

  • Immigrant Petition. It may take about three months
  • Labor Certification Application. It may take about six months
  • Adjustment of Status. It may take about a year.

It is important to note that the above time frames are general approximations and can differ from one region to another, as per the number of individuals who have applied for the same. For example, processing of Green Card in Florida may take longer as compared to that in the state of Iowa.

Green Card sponsored by family

It can be availed by any individual who is an LPR of US and an immediate relative of a US citizen. In this instance, minor children, spouse, or parents can constitute immediate relatives.

A Green Card based on marriage is sponsored by the applicant’s spouse. The spouse has to fill and file the ‘Petition for Alien Relative,’ i.e., Form I-130. The form has to indicate that the applicant is entitled for a ‘family or immediate relative’ sponsored visa category. The processing time may differ as per the applicant’s relationship to the person sponsoring the Green Card.

Green Card for an NSA or a ‘Non-Schedule A’ alien

Green Card processing of an NSA alien is quite lengthy and time consuming. The first stage involves labor certification, and then the filing of form I-140. The second stage includes Consulate Processing or Adjustment of Status. The entire procedure may require nearly 15 to 24 months, or even more on occasions. The time-frame for completion is mainly dependent on the primary applicant’s priority date.

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