How Long Does It Take to Get a Green Card?

Ruby McKenzie
7 Min Read

Every year, the U.S. hands out more than 1 million green cards to people interested in moving to the country for good. If you would like to become an American citizen, it should be simple enough for you to apply for a green card so that you can achieve what is called lawful permanent resident (LPR) status.

It isn’t always going to be easy to get a green card, though. You’ll have to complete an application, go through a green card interview, and then wait to be approved.

So, how long does it take to get a green card on average? Well, it really all depends. The green card processing time will be based largely on which type of green card you try to get.

We’re going to look at some of the different types of green cards today and tell you more about the green card processing time for each. Continue reading to see how long it’ll take to obtain each of these kinds of green cards.

Family-Based Green Card

Do you already happen to have an immediate family member living in the U.S. who has become a permanent citizen of the country? If so, you’re usually going to have the easiest time getting a green card.

As long as this family member is willing to petition on your behalf, you should be able to apply for a green card and get approved for it within just a year in most cases. In some instances, the green card processing time might even be as little as 6 months.

That being said, there are some extenuating circumstances that could cause the green card application process to drag out. You might have to wait several years to get approved for a green card even if you have an immediate family member in the U.S.

But this won’t usually be the case. By the time you start to wonder, “How long does it take to get a green card?”, you should already have a green card in your hands.

Marriage-Based Green Card

Are you going to be marrying someone who is a U.S. citizen? Then you should also have a pretty easy time obtaining a green card.

In this case, your soon-to-be spouse will need to vouch for you by helping you to get a special K-1 visa so that you can move to the U.S. You will then be able to get married on American soil and apply for a green card right after.

As long as everything goes according to plan, you should be able to get access to a green card within about a year, if not sooner. Marrying someone who already lives in the U.S. is one of the quickest ways to get a green card and eventually become a citizen of the country.

Employment-Based Green Card

Will you be moving to the U.S. for work-related purposes? If this is your plan, you might be under the impression that getting a green card shouldn’t be too difficult at all.

You might be right in certain cases. There are some people who are able to get approved for a green card based on their employment status within just a year.

But there are also some people who will see the green card application process drag out for 5 years, if not even longer. You’ll want to get this process started ASAP just in case you do happen to hit any snags during it.

Returning Resident Immigrant Visa

Are you someone who had a green card before, allowed it to expire after leaving the country, and now wants to return to the U.S.? If you fall into this category, you’re also welcome to apply for a green card if you’d like.

However, you are going to have to jump through a few hoops for you to get back into the country legally. You’ll need to have a green card interview and explain why you decided to leave the U.S. and why you now want to come back.

There is, unfortunately, no surefire estimated green card processing time for those in this position. You might get a green card almost on the spot or you might be forced to wait in limbo for years as you await a final decision.

How to Get a Green Card Quickly

If you’re going to try to get a green card soon, you can put yourself in a position to obtain it fast by taking the right steps. First and foremost, you’ll need to figure out which type of green card you should try to get.

From there, you should touch base with an immigration attorney who can help you work your way through the green card application process. They’ll be able to tell you what you’re going to need to provide to keep your application moving along.

Additionally, they can speak with you about any questions or concerns you may have as you seek to enter the country legally. They’ll make the entire process a lot less stressful than it would otherwise be.

Stop Wondering “How Long Does It Take to Get a Green Card?” and Apply Now

When you first fill out a green card application, it’s only natural for you to wonder, “How long does it take to get a green card?” You’ll want to get into the U.S. and start living life as a legal citizen ASAP.

But you’ll need to be patient throughout the green card application process. It can take time for things to play out. Be ready to wait for at least a few months before you hear anything back about your application.

Check out other legal articles on our blog to get advice on hiring a good lawyer to represent you.

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