How Long Does It Take to Get a Green Card?

The United States is believed to be a land of infinite opportunities, whether you wish to pursue world class education, gain exposure to great career opportunities, or to simply live the American Dream. With a tradition and culture of great diversity, the United States is a melting pot for ethnicities from across the globe. The US also has one of the lowest unemployment rates in the world, at 3.7% as of July 2019, according to an article on Trading Economics.  

If you aspire to become a legal permanent resident of America, you will need to apply for a green card. Each year, more than a million green cards are issued by the United States Citizenship and Immigration services (USCIS). A majority of these green cards are issued to family members of US citizens, citizens of other nations employed in the US and current green card holders.

Time Taken to Get a Green Card 

The time taken to get a green card generally varies from 7 months to 33 months, depending on the type of green card being applied for, office location as well as some other factors. Here’s a look. 

Family Based Green Cards

Family-based green cards are suitable for people whose immediate relatives are US citizens and current green card holders. Only close relatives, such as parents, spouse, children and siblings are eligible for this program. Extended family members do not qualify. Family-based green cards can take anywhere from 1 to 10 years to be processed, based on the yearly caps and wait time.

Employment Based Green Cards

This category is suitable for individuals of other nations seeking employment in the United States. Skilled and unskilled workers, professionals with advanced degrees, investors and physicians fall under this category. The number of visas under this category has been capped at 140,000, and the processing time can vary, depending on the demand at that time. 

Diversity Green Card

Under this program, up to 50,000 people are selected from a pool of applicants each year. The winners of the diversity lottery are announced within seven months of the lottery application. So, the processing time for this program is seven months. The application process starts in October each year. If selected, you will be required to fill out certain forms and submit some documents, after you can expect to migrate to the US in about another 17 months. So, the entire process actual takes about two years.

Returning Resident Green Card

A resident of the US, returning to the country within one year, can apply under this program. The individual must have strong reasons for their absence from the US and is required to prove to the USCIS that it was not feasible for them to return before this time. The person is also required to go through an interview, after which they are informed whether they qualify for the green card or not. So, the processing time, post the interview, is almost negligible.

For further information regarding applying for a green card, it is best to contact the USCIS.

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Mani Karthik

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Mani Karthik

Entrepreneur, Mentor & Blogger.
I help business grow & scale. Have helped 15+ companies scale in US, Middle East and India.
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