Green Card and Visa Wait Times

United States immigration is on the rise. According to recently released data from United States Immigration and Citizenship Services (USCIS), there has been a dramatic increase in immigration and naturalization applications over the last year. This has resulted in an increased backlog of pending applications and longer processing times.

A side by side comparison of October 2011 and October 2012 shows a 59% increase in received immigration applications. Surprisingly, the percentage of applications denied has not increased, but rather the backlog has grown. In 2011, the number of pending applications was 1,810,462 compared to 2012 where it sits at 2,202,170 – an increase of 22%.

What this means for immigration applicants? Apply now for a green card or prepare for longer processing times in the future. Some immigrant categories, particularly lower priority family preference visas, have backlogs of several years. However there are others, such as in demand EB employment visas, which are processed more quickly.

Source: USCIS

What is a Backlog?

All immigration visas are restricted by yearly quotas (fiscal year), except IR visas which are unlimited and are only available for immediate family members of U.S. citizens. For example, the yearly quota for the U visa is 10,000 meaning that once the quota has been met – 10,000 U visas have been issued – all other applications will be pending until the next year. The group of pending applications is referred to as a backlog.

Wait for a Visa Number to Become Available

Because there is a cap on the number of visas allotted for each category, you must wait for a visa number to become available for you after your immigration petition has been approved and before filing to adjust your status to permanent residence.

Visa Caps 2013

The annual numerical limits for 2013 fiscal year immigration visas are the following:


Preference category

Foreign State


F1, unmarried sons/ daughters of AMCITS



FX, F2A cases with older priority dates


F2A, spouse and under 21 children of LPR



F2B, unmarried sons/daughters of LPR



F3, married sons/daughters of AMCITS



F4, brothers/sisters of AMCITS and their spouses & children





Preference category


All Others


E1, priority workers




E2, educated professionals & persons with exceptional ability




E3/EW, skilled & un-skilled workers, their spouses and children




E4/SR, certain special immigrants




E5, immigrant investors





Source: U.S. Department of State



Green Card Lottery Is a Unique Program

The registration period for the 2014 Green Card Lottery has ended, but that doesn’t mean it’s too late to start thinking about next year’s Green Card Lottery.

While you cannot register with the Green Card Lottery with the State Department before the registration period begins in fall of 2013 you can register with any time of year and we will make sure that your application is entered on time and correctly.

Recently, I was asked what it is that makes the Green Card Lottery so unique. The United States regularly gives out green cards for all kinds of reasons, what makes the Diversity Visa Lottery (the other name for the program) so special?

Well, the Green Card Lottery is by definition unique because it is the only immigration program in the world. Most countries grant permanent residency (the immigration benefit that goes with the actual Green Card in the American immigration system) based on either your family relationships or job placement.

Most countries will only admit you into their borders if you are directly related to someone in the country or if you have a job waiting for you and willing to sponsor your immigration. The United States does this as well, but it is not the only way for someone to enter the country.

The Green Card Lottery gives immigrants the opportunity to immigrate to the United States for no other reason than being a person who wants to come to America. The State Department compiles a list of countries that rarely send immigrants to the United States and allow them to enter for a chance to get permanent residency.

Without this program all immigrants who wished to enter the United States would have to prove that they are related to an American or secure a job before entering the country.

So don’t delay, sign up for the Green Card Lottery today and start down the path to American permanent residency and eventually citizenship.


Christmas! An American Tradition!

Folks who applied for the Green Card Lottery in October and are hoping for a Christmas visa, will unfortunately have to wait until May for their confirmation number to be announced. It has been said, though, and no truer than now, that it’s better late than never.

Christmas is an American tradition that can be traced back to immigrants from Europe over the course of the continent’s history. Though Christmas is technically a Christian holiday, it can be traced back to pre-Christian European celebrations and traditions. These celebrations normally addressed the meteorological event of the end of darkening hours during the days and the increase of light in anticipation of spring, a very welcome thing for ancient peoples, indeed!

These traditions were so strongly engraved into European peoples that when Christianity began to become popular over a millennium ago, the religion simply began to adapt the customs.

Over the years many generations have added to the folklore involved in the holiday and have added a great wealth of symbolism to it. Christmas is a time of peace, it is an occasion for showing love to the people one cares about, and it is a time for people—and especially children—to appreciate the wonderment of the season.

Since these ideas don’t necessitate a strictly religious background, Christmas has become a secular holiday as well as a religious holiday. It is a national holiday and therefore many people are given a day off from work to go home and be with their families.

Some of the traditions involved in the holiday season that you might want to participate in as a new resident of the United States might be gift giving, decorating a Christmas tree in your home, cooking a Christmas feast or volunteering at a soup kitchen or homeless shelter.