One of the most common questions I receive is “How long will it take USCIS to decide my case?”
This is a great question, but it’s not always an easy one to answer.
USCIS is a massive organization. They have local offices, service centers, and a national benefits center. They are scattered across the country and your case may end up at any of them – it depends on the case type and where you live.
The best way to figure out how long your case will take is to visit the USCIS Processing Time Information website (opens in new window).
This is where you can find information about how long it takes to get a decision on your application for an I-130 (Petition for Alien Relative), I-485 (Register Permanent Residence / Adjust Status) or N-400 (Naturalization), but also for all other, less common, USCIS case types.
To use this website and take advantage of the service, you will need to know where your case is, meaning you will need to know the physical location of where your case is being processed.
If you look at the last correspondence you received from USCIS, there is an address, usually on the bottom left side of the letter, that says the office’s name.
On the website, choose the location of the Field Office or the Service Center that last communicated with you and click on “processing dates.” Look for the type of case that you have pending and go to the last column. Sometimes you’ll see a date, which means that the office is working with cases filed on or before that date. Other times, you’ll see a time range like “2 months.” This means that they are processing those cases within two months of filing.
Be sure to look at the date the processing time information was created – it’s at the top of the page. Sometimes the data can be a month or more old, making it less reliable.
Processing times at local USCIS offices can be challenging to estimate. After you’ve been interviewed, there is no way to track how long it will take for a final decision to be issued on your case. Hopefully, it won’t be more than a few weeks, but it can take up to six months. This is another reason why it’s so very important to have all the documents an officer could want when you go to your interview.
Remember, the processing times website reflects the average time, so some cases may be processed faster, others slower. There is often no rhyme or reason why some cases take longer.
If you’ve applied on your own and see that your case is well outside processing times, it may be time to hire an attorney to see if they can find out if there is a problem and where it is. However, if your case is within processing times, no one, not even an attorney, can help your case be adjudicated faster (except maybe in true life-or-death circumstances).
When it comes to USCIS processing times, the old adage “patience is a virtue” is particularly true.