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How Long Does It Take to Get a US Immigrant Visa?

Each year, thousands of people from across the world decide to migrate to the United States, however, to gain lawful entry, they must first apply for an Immigrant visa. Often, hopeful applicants wonder how long it will take for their Immigrant visa application to be processed and entry granted.

The Immigrant visa application process in the US can be complex and daunting. Our expert team of immigration lawyers at IAS can help guide you through the entire process accurately, answering any questions and providing you with advice in accordance with US immigration law. For help with an Immigrant visa application call us today at +1 844 290 6312 or contact us online.

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    Immigrant Visa Categories and Processing Times

    Processing times of US Immigrant visa applications vary and are dependent on many factors. These include:

    • The office in which the application is processed.
    • If the application is free from errors and includes all relevant documentation.
    • The order in which the application is received compared to other applications.
    • The type of visa category that the applicant is applying for (marriage, family, or worker).
    • If the applicant has a criminal record.

    It is important to note that US immigration law limits the number of some Immigrant visas that can be approved each year. The rules are different for each Immigrant visa category. For example, Immigrant visas are always available for immediate relatives of a US citizen. However, applicants in other categories, for example, unmarried partners and unmarried sons and daughters of US citizens must sometimes wait for a visa to become available.

    Each application is individually judged on its own merit and therefore some can take longer than others. However, there is a general timeframe in which different Immigrant visas are expected to be processed. Timeframes depend on the type of visa the applicant is applying for. They are as follows:

    • Permanent residency between 6 – 33 months.
    • Family sponsorship (immediate family) between 14 – 19 months.
    • Family sponsorship (family preference) between 14 months – 20+ years.
    • Work visa between 5 – 7 months.
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    Understanding the US Immigrant Visa Application Process

    The entire Immigrant visa application process can differ depending on the applicant’s personal circumstances and therefore time scales vary. However, there is a general process that all applicants must go through in order to be successful and gain entry to the US. Firstly, Immigrant visa applicants need a sponsor from the US who is willing to submit a petition to the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) on their behalf.

    Once this has been established and the petition approved, the application will be sent to the National Visa Center. Here, an online account will be set up for the applicant where they are able to complete their application, make payment of fees, and submit their documentation.

    Once processed, the applicant will be invited for an interview (usually held at the US embassy in the applicant’s country). However, before the applicant is interviewed by a consular officer, they and any dependents must complete a medical examination. The exam must be completed by a US embassy-approved doctor/institution.

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      How Long Does It Take USCIS to Approve My Petition?

      Due to availability, even if a petition is approved by the USCIS, a visa may not be granted immediately. Should this be the case then the date the petition was filed will become the applicant’s ‘priority date’. The application will be reviewed in accordance with the priority date, however, it is possible to check if an Immigrant visa is available on the NVC’s monthly Visa Bulletin before filing a petition.

      How Long Do I Have to Wait for an Interview?

      The National Visa Center aims to schedule all interviews within 3 months of receiving the completed application and documentation. However, currently, due to the recent global Covid-19 pandemic there is a backlog of cases and therefore waiting times can be longer.

      How Long After the Interview Do I Get My Immigrant Visa?

      If approved, the consular officer will provide information to the applicant about when they will receive their Immigrant visa and their passport back. The visa will be applied to a page in the passport. Holders should double-check and cross-reference all information supplied on the Immigrant visa page to make sure it is correct and without errors.

      Any errors (such as spelling mistakes) need to be addressed straight away and Immigrant visa holders should contact the embassy immediately. Passports are delivered by courier, it is not possible to collect them in person.

      When Can I Travel to the United States after Receiving My Immigrant Visa?

      If an Immigrant visa application is successful the visa holder will be able to apply to enter the United States straight away. However, before travelling, the holder must pay a final USCIS immigrant fee. Once admitted into the country, the visa holder enters as a Lawful Permanent Resident, also known as a Green Card holder. This permits the Green Card holder to live and work in the United States without restriction.

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        What Can I Do If My Immigrant Visa Application Is Delayed?

        Sometimes during the interview stage, the consular officer may determine that they need more information or that further screening is necessary before granting the applicant an Immigrant visa. Unfortunately, additional processing results in delays and it can take anywhere between 2 weeks and several months to process. There is no way to expedite the process, however, after 60 days the Department of State can be contacted for further information on the status of the application.

        What If My Immigrant Visa Application Is Denied?

        If the Immigrant visa application is denied and entry to the United States is refused, the applicant will receive information on the reasons why from the consular officer at the time of the interview. US law states that not everybody who applies for a visa is eligible to hold one, however, in some cases, an eligibility waiver may be attainable. If this is the case then the consular officer will inform the applicant at the time of the interview.

        How Long Does It Take to Process an Ineligibility Waiver?

        If the applicant must apply for an ineligibility waiver in order to get an Immigrant visa, then they should expect to wait 6 to 8 months from the date of their interview for a reply.

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          How Can IAS Help?

          Our team of expert immigration lawyers at IAS can help relieve the stress of applying for an Immigrant visa by providing honest, transparent, and legally accurate advice. A member of our team will start by thoroughly examining your personal circumstances and advise you on the best course of action to take in order to get your Immigrant visa and entry to the US granted as quickly as possible.

          As immigration specialists, we can help you complete an Immigrant visa application accurately, efficiently and easily, giving you the best chance of success in the quickest timeframe possible. We are able to communicate all legal jargon in simple terms and help you collect supporting documents as evidence that you will need to take with you to your interview.

          We can advise you on what to expect during each stage of the process and how to handle any complications that may arise within your application. We can also guide you with a rough estimate of the timeframes in which you will need to wait to be granted your US Immigrant visa.

          For correct legal advice, and help filling out your Immigrant visa application quickly, call us today at +1 844 290 6312 or contact us online.

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                    Frequently Asked Questions

                    Applicants can check the status of their Immigrant visa application easily by logging into their online account. However, if this is not possible or the application status has not been updated on the system, applicants can contact the Department of State’s National Visa Center.

                    To apply for US citizenship you must have lived in the country for at least 5 years as a permanent resident or 3 years if married to a US citizen.

                    There is no way to speed up the process of being granted a Green Card, however, making sure all forms and supporting evidence are completed and submitted correctly is paramount in order to keep processing times to a minimum and prevent delays.