Obtaining a green card is life changing for families. However, there is currently a large backlog in available visas, which can cause long delays. If you are a US Citizen applying for a sibling, a Permanent Resident applying for a spouse/child/sibling, or if you are applying for a green card through employment, you could be looking at extended wait times because the Immigration and Nationality Act sets a yearly limit on the number of immigrant visas issued to incoming permanent residents. Please note that immigrant visas for immediate relatives of US Citizens are unlimited and are not included in this discussion.
First, you must first show USCIS that the person being petitioned for is eligible for the green card benefit. For the above-mentioned family-based claims, a Petition for an Alien Relative would likely be submitted on behalf of the Permanent Resident which, upon approval, would grant your family member the standing to apply for their green card. Likewise, with employment immigration, the employer would file an Immigrant Petition for Alien Workers which, upon approval, would grant standing to apply for a green card/adjust status. Neither of these threshold petitions grants the beneficiary a status in the US; they merely qualify the beneficiary to apply for their green card.
After having the threshold application approved, the immigrant must apply for the actual immigrant visa, aka the green card. However, because the INA limits the number of immigrant visas issued per year, you may only apply for the green card when a visa is available. This has created a large backlog of applicants waiting for visas to become available. Because of the large backlog, USCIS posts monthly Visa Bulletins, updating visa availability. In the Visa Bulletin, the Final Action Date chart will list the current priority dates for each category of visa applicants.
Once the priority date of your original petition becomes current in your specific category, as dictated by the monthly Visa Bulletin, you may submit your petition for your green card, whether it be through consular processing or adjustment of status. Please be aware that China, India, Mexico, and the Philippines have particularly high visa application rates, and as such, have separate columns in the chart with their own longer wait times. If you submit your green card application before your priority date is current, your application will be rejected by USCIS and sent back to you.
The green card process can be long and arduous, but an experienced immigration attorney can expertly guide you through the process. Contact Maged & Rost today to schedule your initial consultation.