If you are applying for an adjustment of status, a replacement green card, or are waiting for the USCIS to adjudicate an employment based or family based petition, your approximate wait time is extremely valuable information. Your wait time, depending on the immigration benefit you are requesting, will tend to differ depending on where you are applying from within the United States, and also based on the application itself. Wait times also affect peoples lifestyle and their ability to travel domestically and internationally. In short, knowing your wait time will help reduce anxieties over the immigration process and make your life somewhat more predictable.
The USCIS has an online tool that can help both immigrants, and non-immigrants, to better understand the wait times associated with the application they have filed with the agency. In addition, this online tool has recently been updated with new improvements that give applicants a more accurate and concise wait time.
When you used to visit https://egov.uscis.gov/processing-times/, there were only two drop down menus to choose from (Form and Service Center). The USCIS would then give applicants a range of time frames based on an average of all of the form categories that are received by the agency. For example, you can file an I-485 application under many different immigration statuses, and each current status has a different wait time. Thus, many applicants might have been confused seeing that there were a range of wait times that might not have accurately reflected their own unique application.
As of now, the processing times link has been updated to include a Form Category drop down menu. This now provides applicants with a more precise timeline for their specific application. For example, if you are applying for a work permit in the U.S., there are more than 10 different categories for which immigrants, but mostly non-immigrants are applying for. Therefore it is important to know your wait time associated with your unique status, and not necessarily the status of a friend of family member. The new feature also includes categories that weren’t previously apart of the old database.
With the new tool, applicants should be encouraged to research their specific case time, as there is great variability with several categories of applications. For example, there are drastic differences in wait times for I-765 work permit applicants depending on their current status in the United States:
- The current wait time for an EAD, if admitted to the U.S as a refugee is 4.5 months
- The current wait time for an EAD, based on a pending I-485 application is an average of 14 months
- The current wait time for an EAD based on an approved asylum application is an average of 12.5 months
In addition, the USCIS has also factored into their wait times RFEs, and other issues that can prolong applications by several months. This means that the number of months you are reading on their database is for applications that are documentarily complete, and don’t have any errors or missing evidentiary requirements.