“How long will it take?” and “Are we there yet?” are common questions when filing U.S. immigration forms, but U.S. authorities provide a way to get an answer.
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), the government agency responsible for processing green card and naturalization applications and other immigration forms, publishes and updates average processing times for 37 immigration forms, such as Form I-130, Form I-129F, or the N-400 naturalization form.
Using this information, you can identify whether your wait time is normal or if you should make a USCIS case inquiry. In addition, if you’re looking to apply for a specific visa, Boundless offers premium immigration support without the high price tag. Learn more about what we do to help.
In this guide:
With Boundless your case just became simpler, thanks to the interface we use to guide you through everything you need to know — typically in under a couple of hours. We make it easy to complete your application. Learn more, or get started now.
Using USCIS historic processing times data, you can see the trend line for your type of application to obtain a green card. Importantly, USCIS uses Fiscal Years (FY), which run from October 1 of the prior year through September 30 of the year described. For instance, FY 2021 would run from October 1, 2020 to September 30, 2021.
Form I-130 (officially called the “Petition for Alien Relative”):
There is a net trend from FY 2017 until FY 2021 of increasing processing times, with an average increase of 1-2 months until FY 2022, where processing times average 9.8 months.
Form I-485 (“Application for Adjustment of Status”):
Family-based green card applications (in other words, immediate relatives or spouses of a U.S. citizen) have seen a significant increase in the processing time between FY 2017 and FY 2022, with FY 2022 processing times averaging 10.2 months.
Form I-131 (“Application for Travel Document – Advance Parole”):
Applications for advance parole saw a large increase in processing times, from 4.6 months in FY 2020 to 7.2 months in FY 2022.
Form I-765 (“Application for Employment Authorization Document”):
Applications for work permits saw an increase of processing times from 3.2 months in FY 2020 to 4.3 months in FY 2022.
Boundless makes it easy to complete your marriage green card application by turning all the required government forms into simple questions you can answer online — typically in under 2 hours, compared with days or weeks the traditional way. You’ll also get an independent immigration attorney who will review your entire application package and answer your questions — for no additional fee. Ready to start? Learn more, or get started today!
Processing times for Form N-400 (officially called the “Application for Naturalization”) have increased significant between FY 2017 and FY 2022, with FY2021 processing times averaging 11 months. The spike in recent years is largely due to a naturalization application backlog. In addition, a report from Boundless found that the postponement of naturalization interviews and oath ceremonies due to the coronavirus pandemic led to a surge in wait times.
To handle the enormous volume of applications it receives, USCIS is supported by field offices across the United States, and each applicant is assigned to a field office based on their ZIP code.
Every field office receives a different number of applications, directly impacting its processing speed compared with other offices. Different USCIS offices have substantially different waiting times, especially if you compare less-populated areas with large cities such as New York or Los Angeles.
USCIS then publishes the processing wait times for each field office and updates the figures once every month.
To find the office handling your case, enter your zipcode into the USCIS search box. This will bring up the relevant field office. Importantly, for some key forms such as Form I-130, Form I-129 and others, a USCIS service center will handle the application.
Once you have found the field office or service center handling your application, head over to the USCIS Case Processing Time tool. In the first dropdown box select your type of application, and in the second dropdown box select the field office or service center that is handling the application.
You will see the processing times presented as a range between two numbers. For example, the processing time range for naturalization applications (Form N-400) at the Seattle, WA field office was 12.5 to 36 months, as of March 31, 2020. The first number reflects “the time it takes to complete 50% of cases (the median)” while the second number refers to the completion time for 93% of cases.
Using these two numbers, you will be able to see a range that the majority of cases are falling into during that specific period of time — remember, these numbers are updated weekly.
Boundless turns all the government requirements into simple questions you can answer online — typically in under a couple of hours. You don’t have to worry about which number corresponds with which form. We make it easy to complete your naturalization application. Learn more, or get started now.
Checking your case online is simple and USCIS will provide updates to it when available. But the process differs depending on whether you’re applying from within or outside the United States.
Learn more here about how to check the status of your application online based on where you’re applying from.
As always, there will be a wait time as processing gets underway. But how long is “too long” and how can you inquire about with USCIS about your case?
First, check the processing times for the office or service center handling your application using the USCIS processing time tool. Scroll down to the bottom of the page and there will be a breakdown of the different cases handled under the form.
Choose the category that applies to you and look to the right-hand side under “Receipt date for a case inquiry.” Check your confirmation paperwork from USCIS, looking for the date of receipt of your application. If you applied before this date and have not received a reply to your application, it means you can file a Case Inquiry with USCIS to find out what is happening with your application.
To get an update about a case that falls out of normal processing times, fill out the e-form on the USCIS website. This will notify USCIS and they will look into your case, coming with an answer as to why there is a delay.
This form, however, should only be filled out if your case falls before the “Receipt date for case inquiry.” Contacting them while your case remains within processing times will result in a generic reply to that effect.