How Long Does It Take To Get A Green Card

How Long Does It Take To Get A Green Card?

13 Mins Read October, 10 2023 Posted by Debkanya Bhattacharya

You need to get a Green Card ASAP- We know. We know that big opportunities await you in the United States. We have all seen the critical state of circumstances out there when it comes to a Green Card. There are whole TV shows out there based on immigrants trying to marry a US citizen just to get that green card.

So why is it so important? Is the process really as complex as it appears?

Does it really take forever to get your hands on a Green Card?

Let us make the whole thing easier for you and begin without further ado.

Firstly, What Is A Green Card?

How long does it take to get a green card? We will tell you! But first, let us know what a green card is.

A Green Card is actually a United States permanent resident card. It is an official document that is issued by the government of the United States.

If you get a green card, it means that you have the legal rights to live and work in the USA. It is necessary to know your rights as a citizen

As the name suggests, this green card or permanent resident card allows you to be a permanent resident in the country. However, permanent does not mean forever. Once you get the green card, it usually expires after 10 years. After that period, you will need to renew it.

Category And Eligibility For Green Card- Determinant Of “How Long”

The Permanent Resident Card is not available to everyone. You need to show the government that you are eligible for it first. How long does it take to get a green card? If you fit these criteria easily, you need not worry about the time. You are looking at a year or two, tops. However, if you do not fit the criteria, it could take you upto 10 years, or it could lead to you not getting a green card at all.

After that, you will have to identify yourself into one of the many categories of applicants for the green card. Your “How long does it take to get a green card” question will be answered based on the category of applicants you belong to. There are different types of Green card

Family-Sponsored Green Cards

If a person is a spouse or an unmarried child of a citizen of the United States, they can apply for the card. The child has to be under 21 years of age.

Other immediate families can also apply for the card. This can include the parents of a United States citizen who is more than or equal to 21 years old.

The F1, F2A, and F2B category includes spouse and unmarried children of U.S. citizen. The F3 and F4 categories include married children and siblings of the citizen.

How long does it take to get a Green Card for family members?

A citizen has to sponsor their immediate family by filling up the form I-130. 

  • They will have to provide proof of the existing relationship and also submit an affidavit stating financial responsibility.
  • Biometrics tests are the next step. Here, the officials take place for photographs, fingerprinting, and other background information.
  • A final interview will be held to determine if the person is eligible.
  • The filing fees and processing fees are available in detail on the United States citizenship immigration services website. It is usually around $535. You can also choose to consult with best immigration lawyers before you fill up these forms.

These are obtained through close family relationships with U.S. citizens or Green Card holders. There are two main categories:

Who Is An Immediate Relative of A U.S. Citizen?

These are the people who will be considered immediate relatives by the US Government.

  • Spouse of a U.S. citizen
  • Unmarried child under 21 of a U.S. citizen
  • Parent of a U.S. citizen (if the petitioner is at least 21 years old)

Who Will Be Preferred For A Green Card?

The preference will determine the time it takes for a person to get a green card.

  • Unmarried adult children (over 21) of U.S. citizens are the first preference.
  • Spouses and unmarried children (under 21) of Green Card holders come second in line.
  • Then comes the married children of U.S. citizens
  • Lastly, siblings of adult U.S. citizens

Depending on how well you fit these eligibility criteria and how close a family member you are to the US citizen, how long it takes to get a green card can be 6 months to 10 years in time.

Employment-Based Green Cards

In order to be eligible for an employment-based Green Card, you should have a job offer from a US company or employer at hand. Your employment will need to be sponsored by a company that is a permanent resident of the United States. There are cases where the company has to issue a specific certificate in collaboration with the Department of Labor of the United States. This will be a certificate seeing that. Basically, you fit this particular job role the best.

You must possess all the qualifications and Technical skills that are required to be in that position. The educational qualifications or advanced degrees provided by you should not be fake but 100% authentic.

The Types

Employees with extraordinary abilities, such as good researchers, professors, or executives, need not get the certificate from the Labour Department. They all fall under the category EB1 and are the top priority.

  • If the person falls under category EB 2, it means that they are professional and hold advanced degrees. They will need to get certified by the Labour Department.
  • Professionals or skilled workers fall under the category of EB3. They are the less preferred ones for the green card as compared to the former categories.
  • Investors and special immigrants fall under the category EB 5 and EB 4.
  • The top priority category for a Green Card is EB 1, followed by categories 2, 3, 4, and 5.

Formalities And Costs

A person wanting to get a Green Card under the employment category will have to fill out certain forms. Form number I-140 is the petition for alien workers. The cost of each form associated with its respective category can vary. The average cost of an employment-based green card can be from $1200 to $1800.

The cost keeps on varying depending on each category.

  • According to multiple reports, there are several costs that are associated with an employment-based Green Card. For example, for the
  • EB-1 category, premium processing alone can cost up to $2500. The fee charged for adjustment status is close to $1200. An additional biometric fee of $90 can also be charged.
  • The fees associated with obtaining an EB-2 Employment-Based Green Card can vary based on factors like your age and where you are located. You are looking at a  total cost for an EB-2 green card between  $750 and $1,140.

How Long Does It Take To Get A Green Card- The Time Factor

Now, if you are wondering how long it will take to get a green card based on employment, here is the deal. The time to get an employment-based Green Card can depend on the category that you fall into. The EB 1 category is always given precedence. It is then followed by the EB2, EB3, EB4, and EB5. The processing time for these green cards can take from 1 year to 10 years, depending on how many people are already waiting for it.

Delays And Reasons

Also, it is not just the Green Card that takes time. Remember the certificate from the US Department of Labor we were talking about? Yes, that is a must before applying for a Green Card. This certificate good takes a few months. Then if a person has filed an immigrant petition, that could take a few months.

  • If there is something wrong with the status application and the person wants an adjustment, this could add a few more months to the whole process.
  • If you want the process to be fast-forwarded or expedited, you will need to pay the premium fee, which is close to $3000.
  •  If you are wondering of any particular reason that could cause a delay in getting a Green Card, here is what you should know.
  • There are numerical limits after which your application will face a backlog. If your priority date is set to later or not a current one, there could be a delay.
  • If there are any security issues that you have, it could cause a delay during the extensive background-checking process.
  • If you have missed out on any document or given incorrect information, there can be a delay.
  • The United States prefers citizens from certain countries, for instance, ones that are highly and need of a green card. Or if too many people are trying to get a green card from your country, it could take a long time.

It is, after all, a legal deal. You should keep a very close watch on any reason for changes in immigration-related laws and policies. These changes could either speed up or delay your green card getting process.

Green Card Based On The Diversity Lottery

If you are an individual who has won the diversity visa lottery under the federal program, this section applies to you. This was a measure taken by the United States government to incorporate more diversity into the nation. When a person from a country that has a very low rate of immigration to the United States by means of a random lottery gets a Green card to the US, it is called the diversity visa lottery Green Card.

  • This program only opens up for a very limited time period.
  • You have to apply within this short window, and if you receive a notification through the website, it means that you have won.
  • After that, you will have to go through quite a few formalities.
  • Form DS-260 is the applicable form in your case. You will fill out your personal information accordingly and will soon attend a medical examination.
  •  The medical examination will see if you are healthy or carrying any communicable diseases into the nation. If you are, your green card application will be rejected.
  • However, once you fit all of the criteria, you will be arriving in the US through an official port of entry.
  • This whole process takes approximately 1 year to 3 years’ time. It may also take a longer time if the number of people who have won the lottery is more.

Delays And Reasons

If there is an unexplained delay in your getting your Diversity Visa Green Card, these may be the reasons.

  • There may have been too many applicants or winners or mistakes in the system this time, unfortunately.
  • Do you have any security concerns that have come up during the background check?
  • You may have made mistakes in the form.
  • Your document verification is taking more time than usual.
  • If you are facing any such issue, it could be beneficial for you to consult an immigration attorney. They will be able to give you a clear idea of what is actually going on.

Marriage-Based Green Card

How long does it take to get a green card through marriage to a u.s. Citizen? To marry is a fundamental right (known as the right to marriage and family). If you have been wanting to get a Green Card through marriage, it is a legal means that a lot of people resort to. This will help you close stay close to your near and the ones who live and work in the United States permanently.

However, you will have to first prove to the government that you are not just marrying a US citizen in order to get a Green Card. There must be a legitimate and Bonafide reason to do that.

You must also be eligible to get a Green Card under these conditions.

  • You have to be legally married to this person, who should also be a loafer and permanent citizen of the United States.
  • You will have to prove that your marriage is a genuine one and not just to simply get the green card.
  • Your background check should not come up with criminal convictions on your record.
  • You should be medically fit to be a citizen of the United States and not have any communicable diseases.
  • The whole process begins win you file the petition through form I-130. 
  • Next, if your spouse is a US citizen, there are no limits on the number of Green Cards to be given out that year. However, this does me that you will have to wait longer.
  • After the form has been filled out, the applicant has to go for a biometric check. Here they will provide their photo identification and fingerprints to be registered in the system of the United States. After these formalities have been completed, they will be called for an interview.

In the interview, the US official will be asking them questions about their joint financial records photos together, knowledge about each other’s family, and more. This will prove that they have a genuine interest in each other and are not getting married just for the sake of a green card.

How Long Does It Take To Get A Green Card-  The Time Factor

A marriage-based Green Card can take anywhere from 11 to 40 months. 

  • Establishing that the marriage is an authentic one alone can take between 7 to 12 months.
  • Next, the person can apply for a green card, which can take close to 6 months.
  • The final note of approval from the government comes after the final interview, which can take up to 1-3 months.
  •  Since there is no limit on the number of marriage-based green cards, the government usually issues a conditioner resident visa first. If the couple can stay together for 2 years, after which the visa expires, the non-citizen can get a permanent Green Card.

Did you know that if you are engaged to be married to a US citizen, you can get a special visa that allows you to conduct the ceremony on American soil?

Can There Be A Delay?

If you are wondering how to get a green card, you must know what are the factors that can lead to a delay in your getting your marriage-based green card. 

  • First, since there are a lot of applicants in this field, and there is really no upper limit, it can be really time taking.
  • Since marriage-based green card frauds are a very common occurrence, the background and security checks are very extensive in nature. These security clearances are conducted in dept and therefore take a very long time. If the number of applicants that year is very high, it can be even more time taking. 
  • To Err is Human. And when dealing with such a wide base of the population, errors can happen all the time. For instance, if you have filled up the form incorrectly or there are inconsistencies in the information that you have provided. Fixing these errors can take time.  
  • If there is even a slight change in the situation of the sponsoring spouse, like a job change or loss of a job, it can be misleading to the process. The forms have to be altered again, and that could take time.

How Long Does It Take To King Get A Green Card Through Marriage If You Are Abroad?

If you are applying for a Green Card through a spouse, but you do not live in the United States currently, it can be time taking.

  • First, you will have to prove to the government that your marriage is a legitimate one. For that, you will have to fill up Form I-130. Filling up and submitting the form itself can take around a year.
  • In the process, you will have to keep on waiting and checking the bulletin board for the green card. This process will take up to 10 months.
  • The eligibility of your green card will be checked through the national visa center. This can take up to 5 months.
  • Then another round of final interviews will be conducted where you will be asked all sources of questions about each other’s background. Once you answer these questions successfully, you will get your green card in 2 to 3 months.

How Long Does It Take To King Get A Green Card Through Marriage If You Are In USA?

You probably don’t see much difference; however, if you are a current resident of the United States, things can be a little different.

  • You will have to prove the authenticity of your marriage by filling out Form I-130. You are looking at a time frame of 6 to 12 months.
  • You then keep on checking the Visa Bulletin board for the next 8 to 10 months.
  • Next, your final interview and the approval process will again take 12 months.
  • There have been people who have had to wait as long as 38 months for this whole process to get them a Green Card successfully.

Requisites You Should Provide To Prove Authenticity

If you are currently not in the territory of the United States while you are looking for a marriage-based Green Card, these are the things that you will need.

  • Your marriage proof, such as a certificate, wedding photos, testimonies, etc.
  • Proof of the children that you share together as parents. This can include the adoption certificate and birth certificate.
  • You can show your life insurance documents, joint bank accounts, or other proofs of financial commitment.
  • Any communication that happens on a daily basis, such as text messages, calls emails, can be proof too.
  • If you have ever been to any fun activities together, like vacations or travels, you can show them pictures or gift items that you got for one another.
  • If you are currently in the US, simple proof that you are living together as spouses, bills, driver’s licenses, mail addresses, joint leases, and financial commitments can suffice.

Final Word

If you have been through the article by now, you must be clear on “how long does it take to get a green card”. There is not one specific answer for it or one for each category even. The time taken by you to get a green card can vary on different elements and your very specific circumstances.

All you can do to speed up your process of getting a green card is contact a reputable immigration attorney. They are professionals who have been dealing with visas, green cards, forms, and requisites for a very long time. They can best guide you through this process and provide ample support!

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