Wednesday, January 4, 2012

My green card processing timeline

As I mentioned earlier, once I had obtained my K1 Fiance visa, there wasn’t much of a rest before I arrived in the USA, gotmarried and began the next phase of the immigration procedure which included more form filling, appointment attending and evidence gathering for the USCIS.  As the green card processing went on over a period of months, I thought it might be useful to write a summary of it as a chronological list - so here is my green card processing timeline.

IMPORTANT: Be aware that not everyone’s application follows quite the same pattern as my own.  I have read various accounts and the time delays can vary considerably, as can the order of events (for example, unlike me, many people receive their temporary work and travel permits before they get their green card).

January 14th – My wife and I got married.  This fulfilled the requirements of my K1 fiance visa.  To become a permanent resident and obtain the necessary documents for getting work, however, I needed to apply for a green card next.

February 2nd - I received my social security card after applying for it at a social security office 10 days earlier.  Although it is not essential to the process of getting a green card, doing anything official can be difficult in the USA without a social security number, which is used as a form of I.D. proof, as well as for tax purposes.  The card had written across it that I could only work with DHS authorization.

January and February - My wife and I make up a list of everything that we would need as evidence and began gathering it together for my green card application.

February 25th - Attend a medical and get my I-693 form filled out (confirmation of my vaccine records by a US doctor).

March 14th - Put in the application for greencard (I-485), along with applications for a temporary work permit (I-765) and travel permit (I-131), all our evidence, a check for the fee, and a green receipt card for the USCIS to stamp and return to me.

March 18th – Received the green receipt card I sent with package back, stamped by USCIS Chicago.

March 25th - Received notification that my forms and fee money had been received (including receipts for the temporary work [I-765] and travel [I-131] documents as well as the green card) – but also informed that I’d forgotten to include payment for the biometrics appointment and I needed to send them the money before my case would proceed.

April 3rd - Received confirmation that they’d received the money for the biometrics and that they would send me a date for my biometrics appointment in due course.

April 17th - Receive a “Transfer Notice”, informing me that they have transferred my case to the California Service Center to speed up the green card processing.

June 30th - Invited to attend a biometrics appointment on July 20th.

September 18th - Receive notification that my green card application has been accepted and they will send me a green card shortly.

September 20th - Received my green card in the mail.

Now that the green card process was complete and I had my green card, I requested that my social security card be changed to remove the writing on it that stipulated I could only work with DHS authorization.  Received my replacement card on September 26th.

I can take a breather now regarding immigration bureaucracy until my green card runs out in 2 years time and I have to replace it.


  1. Hi Paul
    How long ago did you do this?
    Have just submitted my I-485, I-131 and the I-765 paperwork along with all the supporting documentation. The USCIS website say that processing times for Green Cards is currently 4 months, but it seems that yours took considerably longer.
    Also were you able to find work once you had the Social number - or did you wait for the green Card to come through. I have only been here 2 months now and already I am frustrated at not working due to Green card thing - if getting a social number will help then I will do that, although I have to say that I have not had any problems with ID issues, I just use my UK driving licence.....

    Best wishes
    Lou :-)

  2. @Lou - I did it last year. As it says above, it was seven months from applying to receiving the card. There was a slight hold up because I forgot to include the fee for biometrics but that was only one or two weeks. I think the timescale varies according to how busy they are etc. I still don't know why they transferred my case to another section, that isn't typical.

    I think you can work in theory with a social security card, but you won't have any documentation to prove it to an employer until you get either your temp work permit or green card.

    The social security card is useful for things like opening a bank account, insurance, legal and financial things mainly.

  3. OK Paul, thanks for that. As I have not had problems with the banks etc, I guess I don't need to social number just yet.....Not working is driving me crazy - I don't seem to be meeting anyone which is pretty hard because I am a definite people person. I am finding myself spending hours on things like facebook and twitter just to give myself some contact with people while the kids are at school and hubby is at work...I don't regret the move at all, but this early stage is hard work on the soul.


  4. @Lou - You might have no problem with a bank account. I can only give my experience and what I've read. Some people seem to have no trouble.

    Meeting people can be difficult. What is sometimes harder is that the US doesn't have the corner shops and pubs and other places where people meet up in the same way that the UK does. I am going to post on here a little about settling into America and the culture next, I think.

  5. Hi Paul,

    Could you post a break-down of the costs involved in getting the K-1 and subsequently the Green card, if you still have that information?

    That would be helpful for us hopeful K1 applicants. :-)

    Great blog BTW!

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    2. Costs and fees keep changing. Best to check the embassy or USCIS website for up todate info.

  6. Hi, could you explain what is the "green receipt card for the USCIS to stamp and return to me" on your March 14? Thanks.

    1. I got it from the post office, if I remember rightly. The recipient stamps it and sends it back to say they received the package.

  7. Hi.. I am really thankful to you for this blog as I have followed it at every step of my K1 n greencard application. From all these, I think you and your wife did not have to attend an interview for AOS. I heard it is not mandatory. I have attended biometric in June and received EAD in July but I still have not heard anything from USCIS. I am not sure if my husband n I will have to go for interview or I will just get it straight away in mail..

  8. hi Paul!
    may i know what evidence you and your wife gathered? (My wife and I make up a list of everything that we would need as evidence and began gathering it together) evidence of what?thank you!

  9. l come with k1 visa the first application withdrown by wife 2009
    l was in removal proccessing dec 2012 immigration court individial hearing they change the status and they told me l need to re send a new application by USCIS ,
    OR L NEED I -130

  10. Hi Paul, first off I would really like to thank you for such an informative blog. I plan on sending this page link to my soon to be fiance in the Philippines. I do have one question though and apologize in advance if I just overlooked it on here. After the two of you got married (congratulations by the way) and you applied for the status change, did you have to fly back over the pond or were you allowed to stay here throughout the entire process?

    1. The opposite. If you leave without a green card or some other form of visa, they might not let you back in, so I had to stay in the US.

  11. Dear Paul,
    Your blog is great, really really helpful.
    Thank you so much for taking the time to share your experience so people like me on same situation can have a better idea on how to proceed.
    I hope you soon will share your experience on replacing your temporary green card that will expire this year, right? :)
    Best for you and your family!

  12. Hi, Just a quick question, you could stay in the US while you waited for your Green Card, I thought you had to leave the US during the wait? How did you get around that one?

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  14. Hi Paul, thanks for the blog it is great, I just have a quick question... how long from submitting the I-765 did you receive a temporary work permit? (cant see this on the timeline) as i hope to be working as soon as possible whilst waiting for the green card.