For those who are not born in the United States, obtaining permanent residence may seem overwhelming. Whether you have a close family member who has already achieved permanent residence, or your family member is a U.S. citizen, there are steps you must follow in order to complete the immigration process.
Not only is it helpful to understand these steps and the green card application process, it helps to know just how long the entire process will take.
What is the timeline?
The process of achieving a family-based green card varies depending on the circumstances of your situation. According to Boundless, the following are general timelines for more common situations:
- You currently live in the United States and your spouse is a U.S. citizen: 10-13 months
- You currently live outside the U.S. and your spouse is a U.S. citizen: 11-17 months
- You currently live inside the U.S. and your spouse has a green card: 29-38 months
- You currently live outside the U.S. and your spouse has a green card: 23-32 months
- You are a widow or a parent of a U.S. citizen: 10-13 months
Minor children of U.S. citizens can expect to wait for 10 to 13 months, while minor children of green card holders may have to wait for anywhere between 23 to 38 months before they are awarded permanent residence. Furthermore, an adult child of a U.S. citizen may wait up to 8 years, and up to 20 years if they are from Mexico or the Philippines.
Why does it take so long?
You may wonder why it can take years to receive permanent residence for certain green card applicants. In some cases, the longest part involves waiting for a green card to become available. Once this occurs they must file a form to prove the family relationship, as well as an application for adjustment of status. From that point, you can submit an immigrant Visa application.
It is critical to ensure fill out all forms correctly and completely to avoid any further setbacks and increased wait times.