Family-Based Green Card Applicants Are Seeing Longer Waits

NBC News recently reported that wait times for green card application interviews have increased since 2014. Immigration attorneys across the country, including New Jersey, are reporting that even easy cases take several months longer than they used to. For example, one couple from the Bay Area (one a US. citizen, the other a journalism student from Myanmar) had a fairly straightforward case—and still waited 15 months to receive a decision on their case.

The president of the AILA (American Immigration Lawyers Association), Anastasia Tonello, believes that recent USCIS policies are to blame. “These local offices have the same number of officers, but now it’s just instead of interviewing family-based applicants, they now have to interview all employment-based, really everyone getting a green card,” she said. “And that includes the spouses and the families. So you’ve got hundreds of thousands of more people coming through the immigration offices, and so that’s taking time as well.”

Unprecedented Amount of Interviews

The USCIS has recently broadened the criteria for requiring an in-person interview reportedly to better detect “issues of national security.” For example, employment-based visa holders will need to be interviewed in order to apply for a green card or adjust their status. The agency plans to expand its interview process to include all employment-based adjustment cases.

On top of that, the USCIS reports that the applications for family-based green cards have increased at a faster rate than the agency predicted. From 2014 to 2018, the number of family-based green card cases has increased by 34 percent. It’s worth noting, however, that the agency’s officer staff has increased by 38 percent in the same period.

How Long It Takes for Adjudication

To petition an immediate relative, the average processing time actually dropped from 2014 to 2016. It began at 6.8 months and ended at 6 months. However, it jumped to 7.7 months during fiscal year 2017, climbing to 9.6 months in fiscal year 2018 (which ended June 30). Meanwhile, family-based green card application processing times doubled from 2014 to 2018. It’s nearly 11 months now.

If you’re waiting on an adjustment of status case or green card application to finish, consider getting a lawyer on your case. Living in the uncertainty of an open-ended case can restrict your options, keep people from visiting family in other countries, or limit their work opportunities. The best way to ensure a faster, smoother process is to call an immigration attorney.

Call (800) 909-8129 to speak with our New Jersey immigration lawyer today—or use our short online form to review your case for free.