My green card petition was just filed. What factors will determine how long I must wait to become a lawful permanent resident?
The length of time an applicant for a green card must wait largely depends on the applicant's priority date, preference category, and the country to which the applicant's visa will be charged.
An applicant's priority date depends on when the applicant filed the document, which started the green card process. This document depends on the type of green card being sought. In family-based green card cases, the priority date is the date on which the applicant's relative files the Form I-130 petition on the applicant's behalf. In employment-based green card cases, the priority date is the date on which the applicant's employer files the Form I-140 (OR the labor certification, if applicable) on the applicant's behalf. The filing of this document holds the applicant's place in line to secure the green card.
Preference categories describe the different groups of people who qualify for permanent residence, and they set out annual numerical limits for each group. The family-based program has four preference categories, and the employment-based program has five categories. Some visa applicants are fortunate enough to fall outside of these preference categories, such as certain immediate relatives of U.S. citizens.
The country to which the applicant’s visa will be charged is typically the applicant’s country of birth. Some countries have longer visa wait times than other countries due to the demand for U.S. immigrant visas in those countries. For more information, please see my post on the rules of chargeability.
Please note that visa availability does not always proceed down a linear path. Visas can become available and then, with retrogression, can become unavailable again. Additionally, government processing times can delay completion of the green card process.
Last Edit: Jan 12, 2014 12:27:24 GMT -6 by adamcohen