Published:  June 2, 2013

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 (I-485, green card application for individuals living in the U.S.) 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, continue to be scheduled efficiently for both permanent resident and U.S. citizenship applicants, with card production for approvable permanent resident applicants usually takes place within approximately 120 days of filing.  Oath ceremonies for approvable U.S. citizenship applicants are issued within 120-150 days of filing, usually scheduled within just a week or two of the interview.

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

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.  As of late, however, I am noticing that the adjustment of status filings of parents of adult U.S. citizens are being transferred to local CIS offices with greater frequency these days, especially in the case of those parents who have overstayed their visas.  However, the fact an adjustment of status applicant in the “Immediate Relative – or IR” context does not necessarily disqualify the applicant from being approved for residency.

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 4- 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 – since CIS will issue a Request for Evidence for documents or information deemed missing.

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.  The issues that most commonly impact eligibility for permanent residence include an applicant’s criminal background, history of deportation/removal proceedings, fraud questions – especially with regards to a current marriage or a prior marriage based immigration filing, significant immigration violations, and possible false claims to U.S. citizenship in various non-immigration contexts.

In general, though, when an individual’s case is prepared properly, and clear legal eligibility for the immigration benefit is established, applicants can pretty much expect smooth and speedy sailing.


PUBLISHED June 2, 2013 – “IMMIGRATION LAW FORUM” Copyright © 2013, By Law Offices of Richard Hanus, Chicago, Illinois