Immigrant Visa Wait Times

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Overview

Every immigrant visa case is different, so it is difficult to estimate how long the process will take for a specific individual. In general, there are three factors that contribute to the processing time required:

    Time Required to Process a Petition

    The time it takes for USCIS to approve a petition varies according to the type of petition and the specific USCIS office involved. Estimates for specific USCIS offices are available here.

    For Immediate Relative categories: Time Required to Process through the National Visa Center and the Consular Section

    Once a petition is approved, if it is in an immediate relative category or has a current priority date, it is largely up to you how long it takes to get an interview appointment. The more quickly you follow the instructions provided by the National Visa Center (NVC) and submit all requested documents, the sooner an appointment can be scheduled. Appointments are usually scheduled for the month after all documents are submitted. Visas are normally available within a few days of the interview.

    For Family Preference categories: Time for Case to Become Current

    For certain categories of immigrants, the law allows only a limited number of visas to be issued each year. These cases are processed strictly in order of the date the petition was filed (this is the priority date). Visas cannot be issued until an applicant's priority date is reached (the application becomes current). This could take several years. While it is impossible to say exactly how long it will take, the Visa Bulletin, published monthly, lists the priority dates currently being processed, which may provide an indication of how much time remains. The Department of State also has available a recorded message with visa cut-off dates which can be heard at (202) 663-1541. The website and telephone recording are both updated monthly.

Note: When the petitioner naturalizes, all F2A petitions (spouse or minor child of a permanent resident) are automatically converted to IR1 (spouse of an American) or IR2 (child of an American) petitions. These visa categories are not subject to the visa quota system and will, therefore, always have visas available for the beneficiaries' use if they qualify for visa issuance. Contact USCIS for more information.