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Applying a Green Card can take a quite long time to process until you are finally receiving it. For the first-timer, this maybe becomes an unpleasant experience, as the waiting time can take months and even years. So, here, we will guide you to know more about this card and how long it takes to get one.

What is A Green Card?

Green Card is an identification card that shows a proof of its owner status and rights to work and live permanently in the U.S. Green Card is a nickname for a document or permits that allow immigrants to live and work in the U.S. there are also other names, such as Lawful Permanent Resident Card, which is the official name of Green Card and form I-551. As for the Green Card holder, they are called Permanent Residents.

Benefits of Getting Green Card

Why should we get a Green Card? Here are the benefits you will get if you have a Green Card:

–    You can bring your family to stay and live with you in the U.S. however; you need to fulfill certain criteria to do this. As state by the US Immigration rule, you can only bring the “immediate family members”. They are your family members that are unmarried children under 21 years old, parents and spouses.

–    You can attend university, college or vocational schools in the U.S. with a lower tuition fee. The international student will be charged more expensive price.

–    Contribute to political campaigns and activity in the U.S. You won’t only eligible to vote, but also involve the political activity.

–    Enter and exit the country without any problems. The Green Card holder is acknowledged as a citizen of the United States. You don’t need to deal with a lot of documents if you want to travel.

–   You also get social security benefits. The Social Security Administration (SSA) provides a regular income for disabled and retired USA citizens. And, if you have Green Card, you will be also included in this program.

–   You can work in any field in the U.S. The immigrant will need a sponsor if they want to work and even get a better career in this country. However, Green Card holder can do it for free without a sponsor.

–    You also don’t need to deal with complicated paperwork. Unlike other identification cards that needed to be renewed every year, you only need to renew your Green Card once every ten years. You will use Form I-90 and send it to USCIS at least six months before the expiration date.

In short, Green Card is not only an identification card. Having one makes you have a better life in the U.S. Plus, you also get all the benefits that we mentioned above. This is maybe one of the many reasons why many people struggle to get this card. Every year there are many applications for Green Card to make the applicant’s dream come true.

How Long Does It Take to Get a Green Card?

Green Card is available in many types depending on how you get it. You have three main methods to get this card, each method will take a different time for processing. Here they are:

–   Marriage

You can get Green Card by married to US citizen or Green Card owner. However, you can’t automatically get the Green Card once you married. You still need to apply for it. There are two form types you need to use here. The first one is the Form I-130 to apply for marriage. Then, at the same time, you also need to use Form I-485 to apply for the Green Card that you need. After that, you will be interviewed to see if you are eligible for the Green Card.

How long does it take to finish the process? It depends on the spouse or person that you are married to. If you are married to US citizens, the whole process will be finished in 10-13 months. However, if you married to Green Card holder, you need longer waiting time, which 29-38 months because you also need to wait for the Green Card availability for around 8-10 months.

–    Employment

If you are an employee that has a special skill or proved to be the best in your field, you also have a chance to get the Green Card (read more about H1B visa) . The application comes from your employer. Your employer needs to use Form I-140, the Immigrant Petition for an Alien Worker to get you the Green Card. But, you also can get it by being offered by the US government because of your achievement, such as you are Nobel Prize winner, talented athlete or working with the US government in other countries, such as translator.

The processing time to get Green Card through this method is varying from 7 to 33 months. However, it can stretch to one more year, if you use Visa with low demand or 4-6 years for Visa with high demand.

–     Investment

Green Card also can be acquired through investment. If you invest at least $500,000 in a project, you have a chance to get the Green Card. However, the project where you invest your money must be able to create 10 jobs. This is one of the new versions of the EB-5 program. As for the processing time, it can take from 22 to 26 months.

Those are three main methods to acquire Green Card. However, there are also other types of Green Card based on how you get it. Here are some of them:

  • Refugee or Asylee – you can apply for Green Card one year after you enter the U.S. It takes around one year.
  • Winning the Green Card lottery – you also can apply for the Green Card lottery to get this card. This is the easiest way to get it, even though the chance is quite low due to many people also use this method. The best of all, this is the fastest method to get a Green Card. Once you won the lottery, you only need to wait 3 to 6 months. But, depending on your Visa issuance, it can take 3 years to finish the process.

Factors Effect on the Processing Time of Green Card

Many factors affect the length of the processing time until you get your Green Card. The first one is the Visa issuance. Certain types of Green Card need Visa, and it can make the processing time much longer than normal. Moreover, if you have a problem with Visa issuance, you might need to wait more than a normal time.

The documentation also has a big role in this matter. If you do not provide complete documentation and requirement needed to get the Green Card, you will need to wait longer. Then, the availability of a Green Card is also another factor. Due to many demands and applications, there is only a limited number of Green Card that USCIS issue. So, you also need to queue to get the Green Card.

Your background also affects time. The immigrant or foreigner that is eligible to receive Green Card is those who don’t pose any threat to the country. It is not only about a terrorist and criminal record. However, if you don’t have enough income or skill to work and live in the U.S. it will be difficult to get one.  

How to Speed Up the Green Card Process

Finishing the process of your Green Card application can take a lot of time, as we explained above. However, you also can do something to make the process finished faster. The easiest way is to fulfill the requirement needed to apply and get the Green Card. This is the best method to make your Green Card finished faster. 

The other situation is submitting a letter to the authority to give the Green Card faster because of emergency. For example, if your family needs surgery as soon as possible in the U.S., you can use this reason to plea for a faster process. Of course, you also need to include the proofs and documents that can show this emergency.

The other method is the cross-charge ability. You can use this method if you try to get Green Card through marriage. This method uses the country of birth of your spouse to get faster Visa, which can shorten the Green Card processing time. Visa issuance is one of the factors that can increase the processing time. So, by acquiring the Visa much faster, you also can finish the processing time much faster. 


Those are important things you need to know about Green Card and how long you need to wait to get one. It might be complicated, so it is recommended to consult this matter with expert or people that experience and has knowledge about it. If they can help you deal with all those complicated processes, you can even save more time to get the Green Card. That means you get your dream life much faster. Read more about US visa.