Overseas Green Card Backlog Surges to 473,000 During Pandemic


The State Department said it would be prioritizing green cards for spouses and children of U.S. citizens

Mar 4, 2021


President Biden recently ended a Trump-era ban on green card processing abroad, but applicants are in for a long wait to have their green card approved.

The number of immigrant visa cases pending interviews at the National Visa Center (NVC) increased to 473,000 in February, from 75,000 in January 2020.

“The snapshot gives you an idea of how much longer the line has gotten since the beginning of the pandemic,” U.S. Acting Deputy Assistant Secretary for Visa Services Julie Stufft said during a March 1 briefing on the current status of immigrant visa processing at embassies and consulates around the world.

Green card wait times were already soaring, but the coronavirus pandemic has led to an unprecedented surge in processing times. The shutdown of embassies and consulates worldwide along with immigrant visa bans have stymied an already overtaxed immigration system.

Stufft added: “It’s important to note, too, that this number doesn’t include the entirety of that queue. It doesn’t include cases already at embassies and consulates that have not yet been interviewed or applicants still gathering the necessary documents before they can be interviewed, and also, of course, petitions awaiting USCIS approval.”

Green card applicants living outside the United States file their application through a process known as consular processing. Once their application is approved and a green card becomes available, their petition is forwarded to the NVC for processing. Next, the embassy or consulate contacts the applicant to arrange an in-person interview.

Stufft said the U.S. State Department would be prioritizing green cards for spouses and children of U.S. citizens, including fiance(e) visas not subject to COVID-19 travel bans.

“Our work, like that of everyone, continues to face real and persistent challenges related to the pandemic,” said Stufft. “What I can promise you is that we’re working to serve as many people as safely as we can to resolve this backlog.”

Are you thinking of applying for a green card? It’s generally a good idea to get started on your application sooner rather than later, to get ahead of the line. Learn more about how Boundless can help you!


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