So much is unknown in the world right now. Is my favorite restaurant open? Can I deposit money in person at the bank? When can I go on vacation? What will happen with schools? It’s impossible to know what will happen tomorrow, let alone what will happen in a year. Immigration is no different. There are a lot of unknowns right now and when I’m asked very reasonable questions about timing and process, well, I just don’t know the answers like I used to. No crystal ball is strong enough to help me figure out the future (for the record, I don’t believe any type of crystal ball would truly help)!

How long before I get a receipt?
It used to be that it would be 2-3 weeks from the time of filing to when we would get a receipt back from USCIS. We’re now seeing it take 6-8 weeks. USCIS is slow to cash checks, processing new cases, create and file receipts. With the impending furlough of 75% of their employees, this will only get worse.

When will I get my work card?
Posted processing times say it’ll take around 5.5 months from the time of filing…but is that true? We know that the Application Support Centers were closed for over two months and USCIS won’t issue work permits without capturing fingerprints and running background checks. In the past, biometrics would be done very early in process. I’m curious if work cards can be produced fairly quickly after fingerprints are taken. I guess we’ll have to wait and see.

How long will my case take?
Before COVID, I would tell green card clients that they should plan on 8-10 months from the time of filing to the time of an interview. Now, I don’t know what to say. USCIS has said that their priority is on naturalization cases, meaning adjustment of status cases sit and wait. Will people be waiting a year or longer for their green cards? My best guess is yes.

Does USCIS really need my mortgage statement, credit score, high school diploma, etc., for the I-944?
The new I-944 Affidavit of Self-Sufficiency is a beast of a form asking for nearly everything but DNA for a green card applicant. We have not seen any adjudications on this form since USCIS just started requiring it in February and no interviews have been scheduled where the documents and form will be reviewed. For now, we just do our best and provide what’s available. My great hope is that when people are scheduled for adjustment of status interviews in 2021 that the Public Charge rules and policies will have been rescinded by a new administration.

My case was approved. When will I get my green card?
Good question! USCIS recently stopped printing green cards in a way to save money. Yes, you read that correctly. It’s ridiculous. It may take a month or longer from when the case is approved to when you have a document in your hand.

When will I be sworn in as a US citizen?
It used to be that if someone was approved for naturalization, their oath ceremony would follow within about a month. With many USCIS offices being closed for over two months, oath ceremonies were postponed. USCIS has begun conducting small ceremonies with 20-50 people, but with 100s waiting for ceremonies, it’s hard to know when your particular file might be called up for scheduling.

When so much is unpredictable it’s important to have an attorney who can walk with you through this, provide accurate updates, and ensure that the job is done right the first time. We may not have all the answers on “when” but we certainly know “how” to best protect you and your loved ones.

-Tracie