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7 Risks of Waiting to Apply for a Green Card

Sep 29, 2023

A green card applicant with friends in the U.S.

If you’re in the United States on a temporary visa, you may be wondering if you should wait to apply for a green card. Perhaps you’re hoping lengthy green card processing times will ease up soon, or new immigration policies will make it easier to get a visa. While these are valid considerations, waiting to apply may not be in your best interest and can pose several risks. Let’s delve deeper into the risks of delaying your immigration application:

1. Longer Wait Times

When you delay your green card application, you essentially place yourself at the back of the line. Considering there is currently a backlog of 300,000 green card cases, the sooner you get in line, the better. This situation is exacerbated by the potential influx of new applicants if the political landscape changes or new immigration laws are enacted. These newcomers will join the queue, causing further delays for those who procrastinate.

2. Changing Eligibility Requirements

Immigration policies and eligibility criteria can evolve over time. What makes you eligible for a specific immigration status today may not hold true in the future. Waiting to apply leaves you vulnerable to potential changes that could make it harder for you to qualify. The U.S. can adjust eligibility standards, such as income thresholds or educational requirements, which may affect your ability to secure immigration benefits. Moreover, any political or economic changes can affect the immigration process, potentially making it more challenging in the future.

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3. Timing and Legal Services Availability

Applying for immigration status at the right time can be crucial. The immigration landscape is dynamic, and it’s essential to consider factors such as the availability of immigration lawyers and non-profit legal centers. Applying during a period of relative calm within the immigration system can lead to more responsive service, better client experiences, and quicker initiation of your case.

4. Expiration of Temporary Visas

If you are currently in the United States on a temporary visa, delaying your green card application could lead to the expiration of your visa status. Once your temporary visa expires, you may become subject to immigration enforcement measures, including potential deportation. This can create a precarious situation for you and your family, as well as disrupt your employment and educational opportunities.

5. Family Separation and Uncertainty

A green card applicant with his family.

Delaying your immigration application can lead to prolonged separation from family members who are abroad or have different immigration statuses. It can be emotionally and psychologically challenging to be separated from loved ones for extended periods. Additionally, immigration laws can change, affecting family reunification opportunities. The longer you wait, the greater the uncertainty about when you can be together with your family.

6. Financial Consequences

Delaying your green card application can have financial repercussions. Immigration application fees are subject to change and can increase over time. By postponing your application, you might face higher fees when you eventually apply, adding to your financial burden. Delaying your immigration status can also limit your ability to access certain job opportunities. You might be restricted from pursuing higher-paying positions or careers that require legal immigration status. By applying sooner, you can potentially save on these expenses.

7. Missed Educational and Career Opportunities

Waiting to apply for a green card can hinder your access to educational and career opportunities.

Some scholarships, educational programs, and jobs may require proof of legal immigration status. Delaying your application can impede your ability to achieve economic mobility and financial stability. Waiting can also affect your ability to achieve long-term career goals, such as homeownership, retirement planning, and providing financial security for your family. The delayed start in pursuing these goals can have lasting financial consequences.

The Bottom Line

Delaying your immigration application can have significant financial implications, including increased application fees, legal expenses, ongoing living costs, and missed earning potential. Furthermore, it can limit your access to educational opportunities, delay career advancement, and hinder your long-term financial and life goals. It is essential to consider these financial and career-related risks when deciding on the timing of your immigration application.

Boundless helps you build a tailored visa plan for every step of the process, from forms to your immigration interview.