The petition for permanent legal residence (green card) of family members, in some cases, is free of waiting, but the bureaucracy can turn the process into a nightmare. The last Visa Bulletin (October 2019) of the State Department indicates that for Category F2A, corresponding to immediate relatives of a permanent legal resident (spouses and children under 21 years of age), there is no queue.
"But that does not mean that, if you ask at this time the green card will be given immediately," warns Lilia Velásquez, an immigration lawyer who works in San Diego and is also an assistant professor at the University's law school Of California. "You have to take into account the bureaucratic process of the immigration service," he adds.
According to the processing times (Time Processing) of the Office of Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), the estimated waiting time for the processing of the green card of an immediate relative of permanent legal resident (spouse or unmarried child under 21 years) varies between 15 and 19.5 months at the California Processing Center (between 450 and 585 days).RELATED
“In any case there is a delay in the process,” says Velásquez. “Although there is no waiting list by the State Department, the resident who asks for the green card for his wife or a child has to arm himself with patience for at least 14 months on average (420 days). That includes the background check and the appointment at the consulate, ”he adds.
Once the wait is over, the family member must go to an appointment at the US consulate in their country of origin once the State Department informs them that a visa is already available. When that happens, the beneficiary of the I-130 petition must go to an interview where a consular officer will approve or reject the immigrant visa so he can travel and enter the United States.
It should be noted that every year
Arm yourself with patience
“The government handles the delivery of residences based on categories,” says Jaime Barrón, an immigration lawyer who practices in Dallas, Texas. "Spouses and unmarried children under 21 years of age correspond to the first category, the most important, and the one that first attends and resolves," he adds.
“But according to the historical record, prior to the arrival of (Donald) Trump to the White House, the approval of Form I-130 (green card petition) for immediate family members of residents was six months on average, except when there was a degree of difficulty, ”says Barrón.
It was from January 2017 when the expectations grew without major explanations from the government. For example, the USCIS processing time tool indicates that the petition for residence of children over 21 years of citizens at the California Processing Center takes between 47 and 61 months (between 1,410 and 1,830 days), that taking into account the approval of the form and the notification of an available visa quota.
"Under the previous government, the approval process for an I-130 application took 4 to 6 months" (between 120 and 180 days), says Alex Gálvez, an immigration lawyer who practices in Los Angeles, California. “Now instead it is more than a year, year and a half maybe (between 365 and 545 days). The only thing that has not changed is the wait for a quota available in the Visa Bulletin. ”
The spouses and minor children of residents correspond to the F2A category in the Visa Bulletin and represent 77% of the total green cards requested each year.
Children over 21
The picture changes dramatically when petition I-130 includes the legal adult child of a permanent legal resident (Category F2B). To the delay of between 12 and 18 months of bureaucratic procedure of the USCIS to approve the form, we must add the wait indicated by the Visa Bulletin.
The USCIS notes that the wait for this group takes between 50 and 64.5 months (between 1,500 and 1,935 days). But if the child has Mexican nationality, the delay increases to 21 years and two months (7,725 days).
In the case of the petition for the residence request of the children of legal age of U.S. citizens (Category F3), as of October 21, 2019, the State Department processed the applications submitted on September 15, 2007, that is, just over 12 years (4,416 days).
And if the citizen's son has Mexican nationality, the Visa Bulletin indicates that the State Department is just processing applications dated February 22, 1996. That is, 23 years and 8 months ago (8,635 days).
In the case of residence requests for siblings of US citizens, category F4 in the Visa Bulletin, the State Department said it was processing the applications filed on November 22, 2006, that is, they were delivered 13 years and 9 months ago (5,055 days).
"One thing is the time it takes the USCIS in the bureaucratic process to approve Form I-130," says Velasquez. “Another different thing is the Visa Bulletin. Both are related and there is no evidence that Congress will change the laws to expedite processes, ”he said.
“Forms I-130 are usually sent to the USCIS office in Phoenix, Arizona and it is the immigration agency that then forwards it or redistributes the requests to the processing center they have,” says José Guerrero , an immigration lawyer who practices in Miami, Florida. “The distribution made by the agency depends on the number of requests. That way they speed up the processes, ”he says.