It takes 7 to 33 months to process a green card application. The processing time for a green card depends on the type of green card you are applying for, the location of the processing office, and other factors.
Processing of Family Priority Green Cards takes between 1 and 10 years, depending on the wait time and annual cap.
Processing times for employment-based green cards may be 1 year for visas with low demand and 4 or 6 years for visas with very high demand.
Processing time for family-based immigrant visas
There are different family-based visas, some of which have annual caps. The annual cap means that for a particular visa, only a small number of people can get it each year. After the annual cap is reached, those who apply in that year but do not get their applications processed must wait until the next period.
So, if one of the family visas is only available to 1,000 people, if you apply as the 1,001st person, you will get processed next year. Even further, if you are the 2001st person to apply, processing will begin two years later. This means that processing times can be long and extend to several years.
There are two subcategories of family-based immigrant visas.
How long does it take to obtain a green card through marriage?
The time to obtain a green card through marriage is 10 to 13 months. the IR-1 visa is also known as the marriage green card and therefore the processing time is much shorter than the family based preference visa.
Family Preference Visa
Family preference immigrant visas have annual limits, which means that processing times can range from 1 year to, in some rare cases, 10 years. The date on which the petitioner’s application will be reviewed is known as the priority date. The U.S. Department of State publishes the priority dates and they determine when a particular category of petition will be processed.
Employment-Based Green Card Processing Time
Each year, the U.S. government issues 140,000 employment-based visas to different categories of people based on percentages. The waiting time for processing varies depending on the demand for that visa.
Employment-based visa applications are processed on a first-come, first-served basis.
To shorten the processing time, make sure that all your documents meet the requirements and that there are no errors in your application. If there are errors or missing documents, USCIS will return the application. This will further extend the processing time.
Returning Immigrant Visa Processing Time
The Returning Resident Visa is for those who are unable to return to the U.S. for strong reasons within one year of leaving the country. You must prove to USCIS that you intend to return to the United States, but there is no way to do so.
After going through the application process, you will have to go through the visa interview again. A consular officer at the U.S. Embassy will inform you if you have been granted a returning resident visa.
This means there is no processing time in terms of this visa. You will know immediately if you get your green card back.
Diversity Visa Processing Time
Diversity lottery winners are announced within 7 months of the initial lottery application. Visa processing takes another 7 months after the announcement. Applications are usually filed in October or November, after which applicants must wait for processing.
The U.S. Department of State processes these applications and notifies applicants when they are complete. It is up to them to decide when the results can be posted and applicants must keep checking their status on their website.
If you are one of the selected individuals, you may apply for a diversity visa. You will need to fill out forms and submit supporting documents, which can take several months. Even then, you will have to wait for the U.S. Embassy to process your visa application and make a decision. Overall, you can expect to immigrate to the United States in about 2 years after you complete your initial application.
SB1 visas are issued to people who previously held a U.S. immigrant visa or green card.
When you are granted a green card in the U.S., your status is either Lawful Permanent Resident (LPR) or Conditional Resident (CR), depending on the type of visa you have. In order to maintain this status, you must live in the U.S. for a period of time before you can apply for naturalization.
Living in the U.S. does not mean you are not allowed to travel anywhere abroad. However, if you leave the U.S. for a short or temporary visit to another country, you will have to return within one year for your green card to be valid. Alternatively, you can return within two years and your re-entry permit will still be valid. If you do not enter the U.S. within these time periods, then you will lose your status as a permanent resident or CR with a green card and will need to obtain another immigrant visa.
Because this can happen and the person cannot return to the U.S. for reasons beyond their control, the U.S. has created a Returning Resident Visa or SB-1 visa for those who want to regain their immigration status.
This article will describe what the SB-1 visa is, its requirements, how to apply for it, and other relevant details.
What is an SB-1 Visa?
The SB-1 visa is for those who previously held a U.S. immigrant visa or green card. They travel to a different country for a temporary visit, but for reasons beyond their control or unknown to them, they are unable to return to the U.S. within one or two years and lose their immigration status.
A green card is valid for one year, so you must return to the U.S. from your trip within that time. If you know you will be abroad for more than one year, you must apply to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) for a re-entry permit. The re-entry permit is valid for two years, so you must return within that time period. If you do not return, then you will have to apply for an SB-1 visa.
Examples of reasons that would qualify as beyond a person’s control and make it impossible to return to the U.S. might be.
Sudden illness that does not allow travel
Pregnancy and the doctor does not recommend travel
Family dispute during which your travel documents are being withheld
You need permission to leave the U.S. and you can’t get it, etc.
The advantage of the SB-1 visa is that the applicant does not need to apply for immigrant visa status from the beginning, but only as a regular visa. This means eliminating the need to apply to USCIS or the State Department or the Department of Homeland Security, and the wait and processing time is shorter.
All people who have lived outside the United States for more than two years must apply for an SB-1 visa if they wish to continue living in the United States. However, there are a few people who do not need an SB-1 visa. These individuals are
Spouses and children of members of the U.S. Armed Forces
Civilian employees of the U.S. government stationed abroad
These two groups of people can re-enter the U.S. even if their status has expired and do not need to obtain an SB-1 visa to renew their immigration status.
If you leave the U.S. for a year or two and try to return without renewing your visa and obtaining an SB-1 visa, officials at the U.S. port of entry may not allow you to enter. This is because those who stay in a country other than the United States for such a long period of time are considered to have renounced their status. Renouncing your status means that you are voluntarily giving up your immigration status and do not want to return to the U.S. as an immigrant. While you can still obtain a U.S. nonimmigrant visa, you will not be eligible for the benefits of legal immigration to the United States.
In order to be admitted to the U.S., you must obtain an SB-1 visa. Even if the authorities at the port of entry allow you to enter the U.S. on an expired immigrant visa, you may receive an order to leave the U.S. a few months later because you have abandoned your visa. To avoid this situation, begin the process of obtaining an SB-1 visa as soon as you know you will be returning to the United States.