Integrity Legal

14th June 2009

A question on the lips of any Thai-American couple when first making the decision to immigrate to the United States is: “how long is this process going to take?” This is a question that can have many different answers depending upon the couple’s situation, visa category, and the processing center that will adjudicate the petition.

Visa Processing Times By Visa Category

The category of visa can have a crucial bearing upon how long it will take to process the visa application. This would seem to be due to the fact that more people tend to apply for certain visa categories, while others are requested less often.

A case in point, far more Immigrant visa applications are submitted than K-3 visa applications. This may be due to the fact that the immigrant visas confer a Green Card or because a K-3 visa application  requires a second petition. Some visa categories may take longer to process because there is heightened scrutiny of the visa application during its adjudication.

This author believes that Immigrant visas, also known as CR-1 or IR-1 visas, which confer permanent residence are scrutinized more carefully because of the privileges attached to the visa. An IR-1 visa beneficiary enters the USA with unconditional lawful permanent residence, the IR-1 beneficiary may remain in the USA indefinitely, provided he or she does not commit some sort of act that results in deportation.  Compare this scenario with a K-1 visa application where the visa ultimately obtained will only entitle the beneficiary to 90 days in the USA and require a further adjustment of status application and one can begin to understand why the applications for the K-1 visa seem to process faster.

The following are processing times for US Family based visas (K-1, K-2, K-3, K-4, and Immigrant Visas) submitted to the Vermont Service Center :

I-129F Petition for Alien Fiance(e) K-1/K-2 – Not yet married – fiance and/or dependent child 6 Months
I-129F Petition for Alien Fiance(e) K-3/K-4 – Already married – spouse and/or dependent child 6 Months
I-130 Petition for Alien Relative U.S. citizen filing for a spouse, parent, or child under 21 6 Months
I-130 Petition for Alien Relative U.S. citizen filing for an unmarried son or daughter over 21 July 02, 2006
I-130 Petition for Alien Relative U.S. citizen filing for a married son or daughter over 21 June 04, 2006
I-130 Petition for Alien Relative U.S. citizen filing for a brother or sister February 25, 2001
I-130 Petition for Alien Relative Permanent resident filling for a spouse or child under 21 January 18, 2006
I-130 Petition for Alien Relative Permanent resident filling for an unmarried son or daughter over 21 June 04, 2006
I-131 Application for Travel Document All other applicants for advance parole 3 Months

For more processing times garnered from the source of these estimates please click here

The following are processing times for US Family based visas (K-1, K-2, K-3, K-4, and Immigrant Visas) being processed at the California  Service Center:

I-129F Petition for Alien Fiance(e) K-1/K-2 – Not yet married – fiance and/or dependent child 6 Months
I-129F Petition for Alien Fiance(e) K-3/K-4 – Already married – spouse and/or dependent child 6 Months
I-130 Petition for Alien Relative U.S. citizen filing for a spouse, parent, or child under 21 6 Months
I-130 Petition for Alien Relative U.S. citizen filing for an unmarried son or daughter over 21 September 22, 2003
I-130 Petition for Alien Relative U.S. citizen filing for a married son or daughter over 21 September 08, 2001
I-130 Petition for Alien Relative U.S. citizen filing for a brother or sister June 08, 1999
I-130 Petition for Alien Relative Permanent resident filling for a spouse or child under 21 October 08, 2005
I-130 Petition for Alien Relative Permanent resident filling for an unmarried son or daughter over 21 November 15, 2001
I-131 Application for Travel Document All other applicants for advance parole 3 Months

For more processing times garnered from the source of this information please click here

All of the above processing estimates are an accurate, but approximate, depiction of USCIS processing times at the time of this writing. As a practical matter, USCIS seems to take more time for adjudication of some of the categories mentioned above than for others. Further it should be noted that the US Embassy in Thailand and the National Visa Center can add time to these estimates if they are processing large caseloads. For more specific information regarding visa cases filed at a USCIS service center and being processed at the American Embassy in Thailand please contact info@integrity-legal.com.

Expatriates living in Thailand may be able to file a visa petition at the USCIS office in Bangkok. By doing so, the processing time estimates are different in comparison to filing in the USA. Generally, when one petitions for an immigrant visa locally, they can expect to obtain that visa in much less time than those compelled to file in the USA.

(Please be advised: Nothing in this post should be construed as mean for any other purpose than providing educational information. Therefore, this post is no substitute for one-on-one legal advice from a licensed attorney. No lawyer-client fiduciary relationship is created between the author and any reader of this post.)


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