Visa Wait Times

Every immigrant visa case is different, so it is difficult to estimate how long the process will take for a specific individual. There are three chief 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.

Time Required to Process through the National Visa Center and the U.S. Consulate General

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. In cases when all documents are properly submitted and up-to-date, visas are normally available within ten business days of the interview.

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 (i.e. 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.

Note: For family based immigrant visas, the visa category depends on whether the petitioner is a U.S. citizen or legal permanent resident (LPR). If an LPR naturalizes as a U.S. citizen, then any F2A petitions (spouse or minor child of a permanent resident) submitted by that person are automatically converted to immediate relative (IR) categories: IR1 for the spouse of a U.S. citizen or IR2 for the child of a U.S. citizen. These visa categories are not numerically limited by law as are some family based petitions. Contact the USCIS for more information.