What happens next?
There are typically five possible outcomes after a green card interview:
- Approval: the officer will inform you in person that they will approve your case.
- Request for evidence (RFE): The officer will issue a Request for Evidence (RFE) to obtain more information. The RFE will more commonly ask for additional documents to prove that your relationship is authentic, such as utility bills or receipts, bank statements, or statements from friends or family about your relationship.
- Additional Review: The officer will indicate that your case needs further review. It would help if you waited to receive a notification in the mail with a final decision or additional steps to complete your application.
- Second interview: The officer will invite you to a second interview to analyze or discuss certain aspects of your relationship or background. You will receive an interview communication by mail from USCIS or your local consulate.
- Denial: If clear ineligibility is established during the interview, the officer can deny your case on the spot. Some factors that can negatively affect an applicant’s green card eligibility include insufficient documents, problems discovered during the criminal background check, or issues with the applicant’s immigration background. However, in most cases, the officer will allow you to clarify such matters before making a final decision.
There are a few steps left before you get your green card.
You have finished your visa interview and are approaching the finish line. But there are still some crucial steps you will need to take to obtain your immigrant visa, and ultimately your green card. Here’s what to expect at the end of this long road.
If you haven’t had your interview yet, be sure to read about preparing for your visa application interview. There are several essential steps, such as registering online and getting your medical exam.
What will happen at the end of my interview to apply for a green card?
Right after your interview to apply for a visa, one of three things could happen:
- The officer tells you that your application is approved and that you will be given instructions about when and how you will obtain your p
- passport, within which you will be stamped a visa allowing you to enter the United States
- The officer will inform you that you are being denied and will provide you with a piece of paper (usually blue) with the reasons why you were denied.
- The officer will inform you that there is a problem with your case and that a decision cannot be made at that time. The officer will give you a paper or document with instructions on checking your case’s status while it is pending.
Will I get my passport back after the interview to apply for the Green card?
No, your card will remain with the officer who interviewed you even though you are accepted. This is to complete your case processing and put the real visa on one of your passport pages. This usually takes 7-10 days but could take longer depending on which US consulate is processing your immigrant visa application.
How long would it take after the interview for the green card to arrive?
The US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) officer conducting your interview is supposed to inform you at the end of the session whether or not your application has been approved.
However, this is not always the case due to the many delays that affect the green card process.
Sometimes the USCIS officer may have to forward your application to a supervisor for approval. This can delay your green card for up to 2 weeks.
In other cases, they will send you a Request for Additional Evidence ( RFE ). This process could add 1-3 months to your lead time.
Even if the officer immediately approves your application, you still won’t receive your green card for quite some time.
USCIS only issues green cards by mail and sometimes only several months after your initial interview.
When will my green card arrive?
How long does it take for the green card to arrive? The wait for the green card’ can vary; sometimes it can take a week and others up to a month. USCIS does not have an exact timeline of when you should expect to receive your green card.
For green card applicants entering the US with an immigrant visa, the USCIS website mentions that you need to receive it around 120 days after entering the US or pay its processing fees; what happens later.
The critical thing to remember is that there is no time limit for when they should send you your green card.
The fact is, they will send you the green card when they finish processing the paperwork.
Unfortunately, this often takes several months.
To give you a better idea of how long to wait, you can refer to USCIS historical processing times for several years.
Wait times for green card applicants are listed in rows I-485.
For example, as of March 3, 2020 (the last time we made significant changes to this article), most green cards’ average wait time is between 9 and 13 months.
It will often take USCIS several months to mail your Notice of Decision, and sometimes your green card can take even longer.
You can contact USCIS customer support at 1-800-375-5283 if you do not get your welcome notice or green card within a few months of your interview.
You should also seriously consider speaking with an immigration attorney to ensure your green card doesn’t take any longer than it already has.
Finally, whether you intend to transfer or have already relocated before getting your green card, you can also contact USCIS customer support. They might otherwise give it to the wrong address.
How long would it take to get through the wedding to get a green card?
The time it takes to obtain a Green Card through marriage is 10 to 13 months. The IR-1 visa, which is also known as a green marriage card, therefore the processing time is too much shorter than family preference visas.
Family Preference Visas
Family preference immigrant visas have annual limits, which means that the processing time can range from 1 year to, in some cases, ten years. The date an applicant’s petition will be reviewed is called the priority date. The US Department of State publishes priority dates and decides when to process a particular category.
Employment-based green card processing time
Each year, the United States government grants 140,000 employment visas to different categories based on the percentages. The waiting times for processing depend on the demand for that Green card.
Employment-based visa applications are processed on a first-come, first-served basis.
To shorten your processing time, make sure all your documents are in order, and there are no errors in your application. If there are errors or missing documents, the USCIS will return the application. This will extend the processing time even more.
Returning resident immigrant visa processing time
A returning resident green card is for those unable to return to the United States within one year of absence for health reasons. You must show the USCIS that you intended to return to the US but that you had no way to do so.
You will have to proceed again through a Green card interview after carrying through the application procedure. The consular officer at the United States Embassy will inform you if you obtained the returning resident visa.
This means that there is no processing time for this green card. You will know right away if you got your Green Card back.
Diversity visa processing time
Diversity Lottery winners are announced within seven months of initial lottery applications. They are processing the Green card after the announcements take another seven months. Applications are generally in October or November, after which applicants must wait for them to be processed.
The US Department of State processes applications and notifies applicants when completed. It is up to them to decide when to publish the results, and applicants must continually check their statuses on their website.
If you are one of the selected persons, you can apply for the Diversity Visa. You will need to fill out the forms and submit the supporting documents, taking a few months. Still, you must wait for the United States Embassy to process your Green card application and decide. In general, you can expect to immigrate to the US around two years after completing the initial application.
What should I do after receiving my green card?
The immigration process does not end once you have received your green card.
In general, the next step is to apply for US citizenship after living in the country for a few years. This process is called naturalization.
How do I check the expiration date of my Green card?
Locate the page in your passport where the immigration officer placed the green card. On the left side of the page, towards the bottom, look for where it says “IV Expires On.” Below this legend, you will find the expiration date. You must enter the US before this date.
How do I verify my type of Green card?
Find the page in your passport where the US officials stamped your immigrant visa. You will know that it is the correct page because the word “Visa” will appear in the page’s upper left corner. Look in the upper right corner of the page, and above the words “Case Number” will appear the words “Immigrant Visa.” If those words appear, you have a Green card, allowing you to come to the US and live permanently.
When do I have to enter the US?
Generally, you are given six months within which you must enter the United States, but to be sure, you will need to verify the expiration date on your green card. It is never too early to enter the US with your immigrant visa. But if you try to enter too late ( that is, after the expiration date), you will not be allowed to enter.