Application Processing Times: What You Can Expect for the Most Common Applications

Probably one of the questions we get more often from our clients is “how long will the government take to process my application”? Obviously, there are many different factors that can affect the processing of your application, so we do not like to tell our clients a particular time frame, because we do not want them to be disappointed if delays come up. Also, each different type of application has its own processing times. Still, there are certain factors that affect how quickly your application will be processed. Here are some of them.

Processing Center

Each USCIS processing center has its own staffing issues and its own timelines for the processing of certain applications. The processing of your application will be determined by the USCIS center where your application ends up. This is determined by jurisdiction, so unfortunately, you do not get to choose your processing center to optimize the speed of your application.

Application Type and Other Incidentals

Certain types of applications are processed faster than others. This can be for obvious reasons. For example, if someone is applying for an adjustment of status due to being the victim of abuse, the USCIS does not want to make that person wait years for approval. Other applications, particularly those of a high volume such as I-130 Petition for Alien Relative can take significantly longer.

Take, for example, the processing times of I-130 at the USCIS California processing center.

  • Permanent resident filing for a spouse or child under 21: 20 – 26 months
  • U.S. citizen filing for an unmarried son or daughter over 21: 33.5 – 43.5 months
  • Permanent resident filing for an unmarried son or daughter over 21: 43 – 56 months
  • U.S. citizen filing for a married son or daughter over 21: 80.4 – 104.5 months
  • U.S. citizen filing for a brother or sister: 92 – 119.5 months

As you can see, these applications are more slowly in general, but the relation of the applicant to the petitioner determines the level of priority as well.

Quality of the Submitted Paperwork

Unlike the others factors, this is one you very much have control over. Filling out your application without any errors and including all supplementary materials will ensure that processing time does not get extended even further. Working with a capable immigration attorney can certainly go a long way toward making sure everything is in order and your processing time is as short as it can possibly be by ensuring that all the required paperwork is submitted correctly from the start.

One nice thing about working with USCIS is that the administration is very transparent about expected processing times. Visit this site and enter your application type and USCIS office where filed to get an estimate of your processing time.