One of the most commonly asked questions by potential clients during a consultation is, “How long is the immigration process? How long will my case take before I get my immigration status?” The answer is typically based on two things: 1) Our past experience as immigration practitioners previously handling similar case types; and/or 2) Looking at USCIS’ processing times reports.
Due to the “Buy American, Hire American: Putting American Workers First” Executive Order signed by President Trump on April 18, 2017, the immigration agency’s directive has been to rigorously enforce and administer U.S. immigration law and policy. Cases are now taking longer than usual to process, thereby making our past experience outdated and causing us to rely more on USCIS’ processing times reports to determine how long a case will take before realizing the immigration benefit being sought.
Under the old method used to calculate processing times, three pieces of information were required to know approximately how long it would take for a particular type of case to be decided
- The form submitted;
- The date USCIS received the case; and
- The office processing the case.
With these pieces of information in hand, one would be able to identify a date certain, which was a general date of when USCIS last processed that particular type of case. However, the information was often out-dated by the time it was published because it was approximately six (6) weeks behind.
Now, USCIS utilizes a new calculation methodology to publish processing times in almost-real-time so that data is more accurate and updated more frequently.
You now see a time range instead of a date certain. The bottom half of the range represents when 50% of the applicants will receive a decision on their case while the top half refers to 93% of all applicants for that particular type of case. Additionally, the timeframe displayed refers to the entire process from beginning to end. For example, a citizenship application would take 12.5 to 19 months from the time an application is filed to the day of the applicant’s oath ceremony.
The new way of calculating processing times is currently in the pilot phase with only the following four (4) most regularly processed forms being tested at this time:
- I-90, Application to Replace Permanent Resident Card
- I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status
- I-765, Application for Employment Authorization
- N-400, Application for Naturalization
Processing time information published for all other, non-pilot forms will continue under the old methodology until moved over to the new scheme.
How to Use the New “Check Case Processing Times” Page
- Go to https://egov.uscis.gov/processing-times/
- Select your form from the drop-down list located under “Form”
- Select the office or service center processing the case from the drop-down list under “Field Office or Service Center”
- Click on the “Get processing time” button
- Scroll down, if necessary, to view processing time information