At Cook Attorneys, our team of lawyers in Harrisonburg, VA have decades of experience helping individuals and families in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia with immigration matters.
Many clients, when contemplating the filing of a petition or application with U.S. Immigration, ask their immigration lawyer (abogado inmigración), “How long does the immigration process take in the U.S.?”
HOW LONG DOES THE IMMIGRATION PROCESS TAKE IN THE US?
The answer to this question will be different in every individual’s case. The U.S. immigration process is very complex. The laws are complicated and confusing for most people, and the procedures are difficult and confusing to navigate. Demand for U.S. immigration is high, so many delays are the result of an overworked bureaucracy. And there are long backlogs built into the system due to arbitrary quotas imposed by Congress on many categories of would-be immigrants. Depending on the type of visa you qualify for, and your country of origin, the time it can take to obtain approval can vary between a year and a lifetime. Literally.
That’s why it’s such a big risk to attempt to self-guide your application without the advice and assistance of an immigration lawyer. It is too easy to make a mistake—even a minor one—in a process which can result in the additional delay or even denial of your application.
We recommend you enlist the assistance of an immigration attorney, since there are many reasons why you shouldn’t “DIY” your immigration process.
WHAT TYPES OF US IMMIGRATION VISAS ARE AVAILABLE?
Family unification plays a major role in US Immigration. US citizens and Legal Permanent Residents (LPR) can apply to bring certain family members to America. These include:
- Spouses of US citizens and LPRs
- Unmarried children of US citizens and LPRs
- Parents of adult US citizens
- Married children of US citizens
- Siblings of adult US citizens
The US offers several channels through which immigrants with desirable skills can apply for US Immigration:
- Temporary Visa Classifications
- Permanent Immigration for certain jobs
For US citizens adopting children from foreign countries.
These include but are not limited to
- Religious workers
- Employees of US foreign service posts
- Former US government employees
A lottery which annually provides 55,000 randomly allocated visas to nationals from countries that have sent fewer than 50,000 immigrants to the United States in the previous five years.
Asylum …and more.
For a detailed list of the types of US immigration visas available, you can visit the website of the US Department of State’s Bureau of Consular Affairs.
WHAT INFLUENCES THE WAIT TIME FOR THE U.S. IMMIGRATION PROCESS?
Delays in the process to obtain an immigrant visa, generally speaking, can be blamed on three factors.
The first is the time it takes to process your paperwork which will vary according to the number of applications that are ahead of you. USCIS publishes and regularly updates the expected processing times online where you can discover, for example, that an application for a work permit filed by one who is also applying from Virginia for a green card (LPR) will take about 5-7 months to process.
A second reason for delay in the application process is for requests for additional information after the application is initially processed and reviewed. Sometimes an application is incomplete or missing certain required documentation, and sometimes it seems that USCIS requests additional information just to confirm that circumstances haven’t changed since the initial filing.
A third reason for delay is that for many immigration statuses there is a limit on the number of visas available in a certain category, based on an annual cap imposed by Congress. For example, a quota has been imposed on the total number of green cards available each year in most categories, and Congress has further limited the number of green cards per country of origin. Under current law, applicants from no single country can exceed seven percent of the total number of people immigrating to the United States in a single fiscal year. The countries which typically reach this maximum number each year and cause a backlog to their national applicants are China, India and the Philippines.
Suppose a U.S. citizen applies for a sibling to obtain permanent residency in the United States. The date on which USCIS receives the citizen’s petition is labeled as the “priority date,” and the foreign sibling is permitted to file an application for a green card when that “priority date” becomes “current.” As of April, 2020, that sibling has reached the front of the line and can now file an application if the “priority date” of the citizen’s petition is on or before July 1, 2006—unless the sibling is a national of India (December 22, 2004), the Philippines (May 1, 2000), or Mexico (March 15, 1998). Yes, you are reading that correctly: a Mexican sibling whose U.S. citizen sibling filed on his behalf 22 years ago can finally take the next step to file an application to obtain lawful permanent residence, which will take at least another six months to process, at which time the sibling will then (finally!) be able to enter the United States.
WE CAN HELP YOU WITH YOUR IMMIGRATION PROCESS
Much of the information online about immigration to the United States is incorrect or is misunderstood by the person who posted it. Immigration law is full of nuance and caveats which means that the correct answer in one case may not be the correct answer in your case.
In addition, there are lawyers and non-lawyers who wittingly or unwittingly lead clients astray or, in the worst cases, take advantage of people desperate for news they want to hear.
Our licensed attorneys can provide you with a confidential immigration consultation to help you understand your options and to help you to receive honest information you can trust.
For nearly 20 years, we’ve assisted immigrants to adjust their status, apply for family members, petition for naturalization and obtain asylum to stay in the United States. We can help you and your family as well.
Fill out the form below to request more information about how we can serve you. We look forward to hearing from you!