The US government is only granting DACA renewals, but you can still submit a new DACA application to hold your place in line.

How Long Do Immigration Applications Take and What Should I Do if Mine Is Taking Too Long?

In a Nutshell

Many factors affect the time it takes U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to process immigration applications, including the type of benefit you’re applying for and which USCIS service center or field office is processing your forms. This article covers the factors that affect immigration application processing, how to check your case status throughout processing, and what to do if your application is taking longer than the average processing time.

Written by Jonathan Petts
Updated November 14, 2022


Immigration Application Processing Times

How Long Does It Take USCIS To Process Immigration Forms?

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has five service centers that process most immigration applications. Four main factors affect the processing time:

  • The type of immigration application you submitted and the number of required forms for that application

  • Your personal background

  • Which service center or field office is processing your application

  • The current USCIS backlog at your service center

Your Application Type and USCIS Processing Times

Some types of immigration benefits require fewer forms than others. For example, if you’re applying for citizenship by naturalization or for a DACA renewal, you’ll submit one main form (along with supporting documents). But other types of immigration benefits require applicants to submit multiple forms, as well as supporting documentation. 

For example, to apply for a green card, you usually need someone to petition on your behalf— either an employer with Form I-140 or a family member with Form I-130. Once that’s processed, you as the beneficiary/applicant need to apply for an adjustment of status with Form I-485 if you’re applying from within the United States. If you’re applying from outside the United States, you’ll use Form DS-260 or DS-261.

‍How Long Does the Whole Application Process Take?

USCIS’ form processing time is a major factor in how long your whole application process will take, but other factors affect the wait as well. For example, USCIS mails out official notices to explain status changes as your case progresses. Your total application time will include the time it takes for these notices to land in your mailbox and for you to respond if required. If USCIS sends you a Request for Evidence (RFE), this can lengthen the time it takes to complete the application process.

To learn more about how long your application process may take and how long each step takes, check out these articles:

How Can I Check the Status of My Immigration Application?

To check your immigration application status, you first have to figure out where your application is. Generally, if you submitted your application from inside the U.S., it will be processed by USCIS. If you submitted your application from outside the U.S. by consular processing, it will be processed by USCIS first and then forwarded to the U.S. Department of State’s National Visa Center (NVC). Finally, the NVC will forward it to the U.S.embassy or consulate closest to you.

How To Check Your Application at USCIS

You can check your application's status by entering your application receipt number in USCIS's online case status tool. You can also check your application status by calling the USCIS National Customer Service Center at 1-800-375-5283. 

For more information, read our How To Check Your USCIS Case Status article.

How To Check Your Application at the National Visa Center (NVC)

If your application is at the NVC, you can check its status by entering your immigrant visa case number in the State Department’s online visa status checker tool. You can also call the NVC at 1-603-334-0700. 

When the NVC receives your approved case from USCIS, it assigns an immigrant visa case number to it. The case number has 14 characters; three letters at the beginning with 11 numbers following. You can find your case number in the welcome letter that the NVC sent you. You should have your immigrant visa case number on hand when you call the NVC so it can provide you with the latest details on your application. 

How To Check Your Application With a U.S. Embassy or Consulate

The NVC will forward your application to the U.S. embassy or consulate that is closest to the address you listed on your visa application. If you have questions about your application while it’s at the U.S. embassy or consulate, you should contact the embassy or consulate directly. The U.S. Department of State lists embassy and consulate contact information on its website.


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