It takes time to go through the citizenship process. Although the exact road to citizenship can vary, those interested must generally get a green card, apply for citizenship, and apply for naturalization. The entire process, which we discuss in more detail in a previous post, available here, can take years. But how long is too long? When should we be worried that delays are more than just a slow government process and instead a signal that something is wrong?
How long does the process take?
The time will vary for each individual applicant. When looking at the processing time for green cards, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) states it generally takes 90 days from the date of entry to receive a permanent card for those who entered using an immigrant visa and paid the immigrant visa fee prior to entry.
Unfortunately, there are instances that do not fit within normal estimated times. There are cases taking so long that applicants have moved forward with lawsuits against the USCIS for unreasonable delays. In a recent case, a group of four immigrants accused the agency of unacceptable delays in the processing of U visas. U visas are those granted for victims of serious crimes. The average wait time: over five years.
The agency argued that the cases should not move forward because it just takes that long for everyone seeking to immigrate in this situation. The plaintiffs have moved their cases up the judicial ladder and were most recently instructed to update their case to address a memo that creates new guidelines.
What should I learn from this case?
This is just one recent example of the difficulties that immigrants can experience when coming to the United States. The lesson here is that there are issues, and it is important to navigate those issues wisely to better ensure your application moves forward.
How can I better ensure the application process goes smoothly?
It helps to make sure you get everything in order and accurately complete the required paperwork. You do not need to go through this process alone. You can seek legal counsel to advocate for your interests and better ensure the process goes as smoothly as possible.