Deciding to come to a new country is a big step, but it’s also an incredible opportunity to be immersed in a new culture and make lifelong memories. If you have a family member already in the United States, it can also offer you the chance to deepen that relationship and be close to those you love. An immediate relative visa is when your spouse, parent, or child sponsors your immigration to the United States. While this can offer you a way into the country — and eventual citizenship in some cases — it’s also a lengthy process.
Determining how long it will take for your visa to be processed is difficult, and it depends on many factors. If you’re concerned about how long your visa may take to process or have other questions about immigration with an immediate relative visa, call our office to speak to an experienced immigration attorney.
What Are Some Factors That Can Impact How Long It Takes to Process an Immediate Relative Visa?
It’s difficult to come up with an average time for how long it takes an immediate relative visa to be processed because there are so many factors that can affect the processing time. Here are some of the common issues that can change how long it takes a visa to be processed.
One benefit of immediate relative visas is that they aren’t limited to a certain number each year. This means these visas often have a shorter wait time than other visas because you don’t have to wait for one to become available after your application is processed. However, the different types of immediate relative visas can have different processing times, depending on your relationship to the sponsor and whether they are a U.S. citizen or Green Card holder.
How Many Applications Are Being Processed
In recent years, there has been a substantial backlog in visa processing at the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services office. This has led to increased wait times and longer visa approval times. This backlog has also extended to other departments, such as processing background checks. If you apply for an immediate relative visa at a high-volume time, it can dramatically lengthen your wait time.
Having an interview is one of the major steps in getting an immediate relative visa approved. However, if there are a large number of applicants who need to have interviews, this can affect processing time because of the lack of availability for scheduling. If the interview is being held at a consulate, your country of origin can also factor in, as some have longer wait times for interviews than others.
Accuracy of the Application
It’s important to keep in mind that when you’re looking at average processing times for an immediate relative visa that these are based on proper completion of the application. If you accidentally forget to fill out the entire visa application or you’re missing required documentation, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services agent may have to reach out to ask for more information. However, in many cases, your visa application will be denied, and you will have to start all over again.
This is one reason why it’s important to work with an immigration attorney when you’re applying for an immediate relative visa. An attorney can ensure that you are eligible for the type of visa you’re applying for — keeping you from wasting time and money — and look over your paperwork to ensure it’s accurate and completed in full.
Where Can You Find Average Processing Times?
It can help to have a general timeline of how long you can expect an immediate relative visa to take to process. There are two websites that can provide a more accurate estimate based on your location and visa type. The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services website has a page that allows you to check the average case processing time. You will need to select the form you used, which in the case of an immediate relative visa would be Form I-130 Petition for Alien Relative, the form category, and the field office or service center you sent it to.
If you are waiting for your in-person appointment, you can check the website for the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Consular Affairs. To get the current average wait time, enter the city for the U.S. Embassy or Consulate you are using. The form will populate with average wait times for a variety of visa options. Using these two websites together can help you get a more accurate picture of what the processing time may be for your particular situation.