When Can I Get My Green Card:

This is the most frequently asked question on this site. The answer to this question (GC process) can easily fill a book on US immigration. However we have decided to answer this question on this page by narrowing down the scope to employment-based (EB) and family-based (FB) categories.

If you are new to immigration process or would like to see what other immigration options are available, please click here: https://www.mygcvisa.com/visa/

Step 1: Overview
First lets start by going through a quick overview of various process involved for both EB and FB categories. If you are not familiar with certain terms, please click here to see immigration glossary.
  • Employment Based Overview: Please click here to get an overview of EB immigration process.
  • Family Based Overview: Please click here to get an overview of FB immigration process.
Step 2: Immigration Process

Second we will go through each form and how long it will take to process those forms. Please click on the link below to check the latest processing time (which is typically updated every week):

Employment Based:
  • PERM Process: Please click here to get an overview. This process maybe optional for some EB categories. PERM processing time is usually 5-8 months.
  • I-140 Process: This process is mandatory for all EB categories. I-140 processing time is 5-20 months depending on EB category and service center.
  • Next Stage: You will either go through I-485 process or NVC process. Please see below:
    • I-485 Process: Please click here to get an overview. This process is mandatory for all applicants who are located within US. I-485 processing time is 12-32 months depending on EB category and service center.
    • NVC Process: Please click here to get an overview. This process is mandatory for all applicants who are located outside US. NVC processing time is generally (a) one month to create case and send welcome letter and (b) another 3 months for case review.
Family Based:
  • I-130 Process: This process is mandatory for all FB categories. I-130 processing time is 8-168 months depending on FB category and service center.
  • Next Stage: You will either go through I-485 process or NVC process. Please see below:
    • I-485 Process: Please click here to get an overview. This process is mandatory for all applicants who are located within US. I-485 processing time is 12-32 months depending on EB category and service center.
    • NVC Process: Please click here to get an overview. This process is mandatory for all applicants who are located outside US. NVC processing time is generally (a) one month to create case and send welcome letter and (b) another 3 months for case review.
Note: If there is an audit or RFE (Request For Evidence) in any step, it could add another 1-3 months to processing time.

After you submit your I-130 or PERM/I-140 application, USCIS will send you a confirmation receipt which has your receipt number, priority date, etc. You can use this receipt number to check your current case status. Please click here to check your current status for USCIS/NVC.

In our GC Case Tracker you can add your own case as well as view other members case data. This will give you an estimate of how quickly cases similiar to your case is moving forward.

You can post any questions about immigration process in the GC Forum.

Step 3: Wait For Priority Date To Be Current
Before you can file I-485 or NVC application, your priority date (PD) must be current. If PD is not current, you will have to wait for it to be current. You can check the monthly visa bulletin to see if your PD is current. Also you can use the GC Calculator to estimate when your PD may be current.

Some FB categories do not have an annual quota. Hence they (as well as applicants whose PD is generally always current such as EB1 ROW, EB2 ROW, etc) can concurrently file I-130/I-140 and I-485 applications (if applicant is inside US).

If applicant is outside US and PD is current, you cannot however concurrently file I-130/I-140 and NVC applications. You will have to wait for USCIS to approve I-130/I-140 application before they will send it to NVC for further processing.

Step 4: I-485 and NVC Documents
After your priority date is current, you can now submit I-485 or NVC application. Please see below:
  • I-485 Process: Please click here to view lists of all documents. Only applicants located inside US will go through I-485 process.
  • NVC Process: Please click here to view lists of all documents. Only applicants located outside US will go through NVC process.

    After you have uploaded your documents to NVC's CEAC website, your case will be placed in line for review at the National Visa Center (NVC). To determine which cases NVC is currently reviewing, please click here to see NVC Timeframes. Once NVC reviews your case, you will receive an email stating one of the following:

    a. Corrections Required: If NVC determines you did not submit the correct documents, you will receive a notification that the status of your case has been updated. When you receive this message, follow the instructions to log into CEAC. Follow the instructions to provide additional information or to correct documents. Once you complete that, you will need to resubmit your case for review by pressing “Submit Documents”.

    b. Documentarily Complete: If NVC determines you have paid the necessary fees, submitted the required immigrant visa application, Affidavit of Support, and supporting documents to NVC, you will receive an email that your case is documentarily complete and NVC will work with the appropriate U.S. Embassy or Consulate to schedule an appointment for you. NVC cannot predict when your case will be scheduled for an interview.

    The U.S. Embassy or Consulate General tells NVC what dates they are holding interviews, and NVC fills these appointments in a first-in, first-out manner. Please keep in mind, applicants in a numerically limited (preference) visa category can receive an appointment only if their priority date is current. You can track your priority date using the latest Visa Bulletin.

Step 5: Biometrics, Interviews, Etc

After your PD is current and you have submitted your I-485/NVC application, please see the next steps below. You can continue to check your case status after every step.

I-485 Process: After you have submitted your I-485 application to USCIS, please see steps below:
  • Fingerprints: USCIS will mail you a notice for your biometrics services appointment at a local Application Support Center (ASC) to provide your fingerprints, photograph, and/or signature. The notice will include the date, time, and location of the appointment. US government will use your biometrics to verify your identity and conduct required background and security checks.

    It generally takes 1-2 months to complete biometrics from date of filing I-485 application.

  • EAD/AP Card: If you have submmitted your EAD/AP application with your I-485 application, you will generally receive EAD/AP card in 1-4 months.
  • Interview: USCIS officials will review your case to determine whether an interview is necessary. If they schedule you for an interview you will be required to appear at a USCIS office to answer questions under oath or affirmation regarding your Form I‑485. They will send you a notice with the date, time, and location of the interview.

    When you come to your interview, you (and the family member who filed the immigrant petition for you, if applicable) must bring originals of all documentation submitted with the Form I-485 application. This includes passports, official travel documents, and Form I-94, regardless if they are expired.

    Processing time can range from 3-12+ months depending on number of applicants, available field officer as well as case load in individual USCIS field office.

  • Respond To RFE: USCIS may send you a request for additional evidence (RFE) if:

    (a) You did not submit all the required evidence;
    (b) The evidence you submitted is no longer valid; or
    (c) The officer needs more information to determine your eligibility.

    The request will indicate what evidence is needed. The request will also tell you where to send the evidence and the date by when you must respond to the request. If you do not respond to the request timely, the officer may deny your Form I-485. Not all applicants would receive RFE.
NVC Process: After you have submitted your application to NVC, they will schedules your visa interview appointment. They will send you, your petitioner, and your agent/attorney (if applicable) an email noting the appointment date and time. After you receive an interview Appointment Letter from NVC, you must take the following steps BEFORE the interview date:
  • Medical Exam: You (and each family member or “derivative applicant” applying for a visa with you) are required to schedule a medical appointment with an authorized physician in the country where you will be interviewed. This exam must be with an embassy-approved doctor, also referred to as the Panel Physician.

    Exams conducted by other physicians will not be accepted. You must complete your medical examination, along with any required vaccinations, before your scheduled visa interview date. Please visit List of U.S. Embassies and Consulates for country-specific medical examination instructions.

    After your exam, the Panel Physician will either send the exam results directly to the embassy or give you a sealed envelope. If the doctor gives you an envelope, do not open it. Instead, bring it to your visa interview and give it to the consular officer.

  • Gather Documents For Interview: Every visa applicant, no matter their age, must bring certain documents to the interview, including photographs, the original or certified copy version of all civil documents submitted to NVC. You do not need to bring your Affidavit of Support or financial evidence you submitted to NVC.

    What happens if you forget to bring something on this list? The consular officer will not be able to complete the processing of your visa. You will have to gather the missing items and provide them to the embassy or consulate, and may have to come for additional interviews. Failure to bring all items on the above list can delay visa issuance.

  • Applicant Interview: On the scheduled date and time of your interview appointment, go to the U.S. Embassy or Consulate with your printed visa application (DS-260) confirmation page. A consular officer will interview you (and accompanying family member beneficiaries) and determine whether or not you are eligible to receive an immigrant visa. As part of the interview process, ink-free, digital fingerprint scans will be taken.

    You, your spouse, and any qualified unmarried children immigrating with you, must participate in the interview. All traveling applicants required to participate will be named on the interview Appointment Letter you receive from the National Visa Center (NVC).

    If your spouse and/or qualified unmarried children will immigrate at a later date and travel separately from you, they are not required to participate in your interview. They will be scheduled for a separate interview appointment. You should contact the U.S. Embassy or Consulate directly to arrange separate interviews, if needed. Your sponsor/petitioner does not attend visa interview.

Step 6: Application Decision
  • Applicant Inside US (I-485 Process): When USCIS makes a decision on your application, they will send you a written decision notice.
    • Application Approved: If USCIS approve your application, you will generally receive an approval notice first. Then you will receive your actual Permanent Resident Card (Green Card) in around 2 weeks. Please click here to see what to do after getting green card.
    • Application Denied: If USCIS deny your application, the decision notice will tell you the reason(s) why your application is denied and whether you may appeal the decision. Generally, you cannot appeal the decision to deny an adjustment of status application.

      Even if you cannot appeal the denial, you may still be eligible to file a motion to reopen or reconsider. Both appeals and motions are filed on Form I-290B, Notice of Appeal or Motion. For more information, see Questions and Answers: Appeals and Motions page.

  • Applicant Outside US (NVC Process): After your interview in U.S. Embassy or Consulate, they will immediately let you know the decision.
    • Application Approved: If your visa is approved, you will be informed how and when your passport and visa will be returned to you. Your immigrant visa will be placed on a page in your passport. You may also receive a sealed envelope. You generally have 6 months to enter US through a valid port of entry. USCIS will generally send your GC within 2-4 weeks of entry to address mentioned in NVC document.
    • Application Denied: If your visa is denied, you will be informed by the consular officer why you are ineligible to receive a visa.  Based on U.S. law, not everyone who applies is qualified or eligible for a visa to come to the United States. Under U.S. law, many factors could make an applicant ineligible to receive a visa.
    • Application Pending: Some visa applications may require further administrative processing. When administrative processing is required, the consular officer will inform the applicant at the end of the interview. The duration of the administrative processing will vary based on the individual circumstances of each case. At the conclusion of the administrative processing period, the consular officer might conclude that an applicant is now qualified for the visa for which they applied. The officer may also conclude that applicant remains ineligible for a visa.  
USCIS/NVC Contact Form
During your immigration process, if you have any questions, you can either post it in GC Forum or you can contact USCIS/NVC below:
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