Immigrant Visa Wait Times

It is difficult to estimate how long the process will take for an immigrant visa case, because each case is unique. 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.

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

If your petition is approved by USCIS in the United States, it will be forwarded to the National Visa Center (NVC) for processing. Once the NVC finishes processing your case, the NVC will work with the local consular section in your country to schedule an appointment.  The NVC also sends your petitioner and/or the authorized agent an interview appointment letter.  If your petition is a K case, the NVC will forward your file to the immigrant visa unit at the local consular section for scheduling your visa interview.

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.

Time for Case to Become Current (If Applicable)

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. 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.

Please note that when the petitioner naturalizes, all F2A petitions (spouse or minor child of a permanent resident) are automatically converted to IR1 (spouse of a US citizen) or IR2 (child of a US citizen) 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.

While unmarried children under the age of 21 may qualify for derivative immigration benefits on the same I-130 petition that was filed for the spouse, it is highly recommended that separate I-130s be filed for each member of the family, to ensure that the children will maintain their eligibility for immigration benefits in the event that the petitioner naturalizes as a U.S. citizen before the visas are issued.  When the petitioner of an F2A application naturalizes, derivative beneficiaries do not continue to derive immigration benefits, since the IR1 visa class does not allow for the inclusion of derivative beneficiaries.

The eligibility of an applicant for benefits under the aging-out provisions of the Child Status Protection Act (CSPA)  will be determined only at the time a visa application is adjudicated by a consular officer.