Published: March 9, 2012

U.S. Department of Homeland Security/Citizenship and Immigration Services continues to do its job with efficiency and speed when it comes to processing Applications for Naturalization (N-400) and Applications for Adjustment of Status (green card – I-485) based on marriage to a U.S. citizen, or other family or employment immigrant category with current visa availability. Immigration interviews, at least through CIS Chicago, are being scheduled with lightning speed, and card production for approvable permanent resident applicants, and oath ceremonies for approvable U.S. citizenship applicants follow within just a week or two of the interview. In my 20+ years of practicing immigration law, I can say that the logistics of these aspects of the immigration benefits system have never worked better.

Here is the current timeline for family based, I-485 adjustment of status applicants — assuming the paperwork and all supporting documentation is prepared and filed correctly:

1. Dept. of Homeland Security/Citizenship and Immigration Services issues receipts within approximately 5 to 10 days of filing date,
2. Biometrics (fingerprint) appointment scheduled within approximately 10-15 days of filing date,
3. Employment Authorization Document (and for those eligible, Advance Parole Travel Document) issued within 45 to 90 days of filing date, and
4. Interview (at least at CIS Chicago) scheduled within 90 -120 days of filing.

Please note that interviews will be scheduled for all marriage-based applications, but not necessarily for other types of family-based cases. Applicants with arrest records or other significant immigration-related irregularities will always be interviewed.

The timeline for N-400 applicants for naturalization — assuming prepared and filed correctly — is pretty much the same as for I-485 applicants, except that interviews are scheduled within 3-5 months of the filing date, and oath ceremonies scheduled approximately 1-2 weeks following the interview.

What can impact this timeline? If the application and all supporting documentation, such as the Affidavit of Support, are not prepared correctly, additional weeks or months can be added to Employment Authorization Document and/or I-485 processing times. Also, if questions surrounding the applicant’s legal eligibility for permanent residence or U.S. citizenship comes into play — especially at the time of interview — weeks, months, and even years can be added on to this processing timeline. But when the case is prepared properly, and clear legal eligibility for the immigration benefit is established, applicants can pretty much expect smooth and speedy sailing.

Copyright © 2012, By Law Offices of Richard Hanus, Chicago, Illinois