If your USCIS case status says “Case Was Approved,” congratulations! This means USCIS has reviewed your application, determined your eligibility, and decided to grant your sibling’s green card. You’ll often see several statuses prior to approval as your case progresses, and it can take a long time for USCIS to process and approve your application. It takes an average of 10 years for USCIS to process and approve sibling green card applications. However, if your sibling is from Mexico, India, or the Philippines, it can take up to 25 years. This article explains the case approval process with USCIS and what happens after your case is approved.
Written by Attorney Curtis Lee.
Written December 10, 2022
My USCIS Case Status Says “Case Approved.” What Does That Mean for My Sibling Green Card Application?
This is the case status update you’ve been waiting for. It means U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has decided to approve your sibling green card application. In just a few months, your sibling’s green card should arrive in the mail.
It likely took at least a few years to get to this point. During that time, you probably saw a few other case status updates from USCIS concerning your sibling’s green card:
Case Was Received: USCIS received your sibling green card application and started processing it.
Request for Initial or Additional Evidence Sent: USCIS may have needed additional information from you to finish processing the green card request.
Expedite Request Received: You would only have seen this if you asked USCIS to expedite your case.
Fingerprint and Biometric Appointment Was Scheduled: This case status update signaled that the location and time for your fingerprint and biometrics appointment had been set.
Case Is Ready To Be Scheduled for an Interview: You saw this when it was time to schedule the interview portion of the sibling green card application process.
How Will I See My Case Status?
You’ll see most case status updates using two methods. The quickest method involves logging into your USCIS account, and the slower method involves waiting for Form I-797: Notice of Action to come in the mail. If you choose to log into your online account to view your case status, you will need your receipt number.
If you were expecting to see a “Case Approved” case status but didn’t, consider using our Ask an Attorney program to connect with a lawyer and get legal help.
Does “Case Approved” Mean the Same Thing as “Case Received”?
No, these are some of the more confusing case statuses because they sound very similar. But these case updates mean different things.
When your sibling green card application arrived at USCIS and it began processing, you likely saw the case received status update. But when USCIS decides to issue your sibling a green card and grant them lawful permanent residency status, then you’ll see the case approved update.
My Sibling Green Card Case Was Approved by USCIS. Now What?
It can take USCIS many years to process sibling green cards. You’ve been patiently waiting for your approval, and once you get it, there are just a few more steps. After you get the approval case status notice, you will receive a welcome notice from USCIS via mail within 30 days. Then, within 30 days of getting the welcome notice, the green card should arrive in the mail.
USCIS sends both items using the address it has on file. This will be the mailing address you provided in your green card application. So, if you move during the green card review period, you or your sibling must update your address with USCIS. Updating your address with USPS won’t guarantee your mail from USCIS gets forwarded to you. If USCIS sends the green card to an out-of-date address, the next case status update you see could be similar to one of the following:
Card Is Being Returned to USCIS by Post Office
Card Was Determined As Undeliverable By The Post Office
Card (or Document) Was Returned to USCIS
These are all red flags that USCIS doesn’t have your current address on file. You can still contact USCIS to change your address, but this may delay the process of receiving your sibling green card further.
How Can I Track USCIS Case Status Changes?
Approval of your sibling’s green card is a huge milestone, but you’re not done yet. Keep an eye out for further case status updates on your account so you know when the green card is on its way. For example, you might soon see:
Card Was Delivered To Me By The Post Office
Card Was Picked Up By The United States Postal Service
Card Was Mailed To Me
New Card Is Producing
To make sure the mailing process goes smoothly, continue checking for USCIS case status updates. You can do this by using the USCIS online case tracker. To use it, provide your receipt number and click the “CHECK STATUS” button. USCIS will also always send official notices of case status changes by mail. So if you aren’t able to check your status online or if you aren’t sure what it means, keep an eye out for the mailed notice. It should have more detailed information than your online status update.
Do I Need an Immigration Attorney To Get My Sibling Green Card Application Approved?
If you see the approved case status, then you probably don’t need an immigration attorney. If you’ve been waiting longer than the normal processing times, you may be tempted to contact an attorney. But reach out to USCIS via the USCIS Contact Center first. A USCIS officer may be able to explain where your green card is or why there’s a delay. If that doesn’t give you the answers you need, or if your sibling green card application was unexpectedly denied, then talking to an immigration lawyer might be necessary.
If you have immigration questions, you can get them answered by independent attorneys for $24/month with our Ask an Attorney program.