If you just filed a green card petition with USCIS, you may be wondering what are the next steps and what is the estimated timeline to get a green card. This blog post summarizes what happens after USCIS receives your petition, what is the estimated timeline, and also goes over how to expedite the process.
Once your Adjustment of Status (green card) petition is received by USCIS, you should receive a receipt notice from USCIS in a week or two for your I-485, Adjustment of Status petition (but sometimes this may take longer). A good way how to check whether USCIS received your petition is to check if the check you submitted for the filing fee(s) has been cashed.
The Receipt notice will have a receipt number on it, and this will allow you to track the status of the case on this website. If you filed additional petitions other than the I-485, you should receive a separate receipt notices for those as well (for example if you also applied for your a work and travel authorization, you will receive separate Receipt notices).
In couple of weeks after your petition is received by USCIS, you should receive a Biometrics appointment notice from USCIS. We generally recommend to attend the biometrics appointment on the date and time indicated on the biometrics notice, as it may take several weeks or months to get a new date for the biometrics appointment if you try to re-schedule it.
At the biometrics appointment, USCIS will collect your fingerprints, photograph, and signature. You should bring the ASC biometrics notice and the documents listed on the ASC notice.
Work and Travel Authorization
In case you also applied for a work and travel authorization with your green card petition, it will probably take USCIS several months to adjudicate these applications. The current processing time for the work and travel authorization is approximately 8-9 months (but this changes frequently depending on USCIS’ current caseload, it used to be 3-6 months).
Please note that unless you have an underlying non-immigrant status in the U.S., you are not allowed to work in the U.S. until your work authorization petition is approved by USCIS. Additionally, you should not leave the U.S. until your travel authorization is approved, as otherwise your green card petition will be deemed abandoned (there is an exception for an L-1 and H1b workers).
You can always file an Expedite Request if you meet the requirements and if the request is approved, USCIS will adjudicate your petitions faster.
Request for Evidence
If you did not submit some required documents with the initial petition/USCIS needs some additional documents to make a decision on your case, USCIS may issue a Request for Evidence. The Request for Evidence notice will list the documents you will need to submit and will also specify the deadline to respond.
Green Card Interview
Once USCIS is ready to adjudicate your petition, they will schedule a green card interview. As with the biometrics appointment, we usually recommend that you attend the interview on the date and time on the interview notice and do not reschedule it, as otherwise it may take some time to get a new interview date.
The processing times for a green card vary depending on: (i) what type of green card you applied for (under which green card category), (ii) where is your green card petition pending (which USCIS field office). The current processing time is usually somewhere around 1-2 years.
Recently, we have seen that some green card petitions (mostly only employment-based petitions) are adjudicated without an interview. If you filed a family based adjustment of status you would still most likely need to attend an interview. At the interview, USCIS will let you know whether they are approving your green card and you should usually receive it 1-3 weeks after the interview.
When Do I Need to Renew My Green Card?
In case you obtained your green card based on a marriage to US citizen, you will receive a conditional 2-year green card. Before the 2 years are up, you will need to submit an Petition to remove conditions on your green card.
If you were issued a 10-year green card, you should renew it around 6 months before its expiration date.
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