Green Card Waiting Time by Country 2022

map placeholder

A "green card" is a U.S. government-issued ID given to foreign-born individuals who have legal permission to live and work permanently in the United States. Green cards, which are officially called Permanent Resident Cards, are issued by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). Although the United States has become more difficult to immigrate to in recent years, it has historically been both easy to immigrate to and the world's leading destination country for immigrants. As such, the green card system receives a high volume of applicants, who come from a vast range of situations. Individuals who wish to apply for a green card must be eligible under one of the eight general categories, some of which have a limited number of green cards available.

The Eight Categories of Green Card Eligibility

  • Green Card through Family — Applicant is the spouse, fiancée, child/stepchild, parent, sibling, widow, or widower of a U.S. citizen.
  • Green Card through Employment — Applicant has sought-after job skills or is investing heavily in a business that will create at least 10 full-time jobs.
  • Green Card as a Special Immigrant — Applicant is working for a nonprofit religious organization, is juvenile who needs protection from an abusive parent, is Afghan or Iraqi national who worked for U.S. government, or meets certain additional criteria as an international broadcaster or employee/retiree of certain international organizations.
  • Green Card through Refugee or Asylum Status — Applicant was admitted as a refugee or given asylum status at least 1 year prior.
  • Green Card for Human Trafficking and Crime Victims — Applicant is a victim of human trafficking or certain other crimes and granted a T or U nonimmigrant visa.
  • Green Card for Victims of Abuse — Applicant is abused spouse, child, or parent of U.S. citizen, Cuban native, or other lawful permanent U.S. resident. Special Immigrant Juveniles are also eligible.
  • Green Card through Other Categories — Applicant meets one of several rare and specific criteria such as being an American Indian born in Canada, a foreign diplomat who cannot return home, or the winner of a green card lottery.
  • Green Card through Registry — Applicant has lived in the U.S. since before Jan 01, 1972.

The green card application process:

  1. An immigrant petition is submitted on behalf of the candidate by a sponsor—in most cases, a U.S. relative or employer. Some applicants (such as investors) may be eligible to file for themselves.
  2. If USCIS approves the immigrant petition, one of two next steps occurs, depending upon the applicant's eligibility category. Those who are immediate spouses, children under 21 years of age, or parents of a U.S. citizen proceed straight to the next step (visa adjudication). Most others must be placed on a waitlist, where they wait until an immigrant visa number in their specific category of eligibility becomes available.
  3. Once an immigrant visa number comes available in the applicant's chosen eligibility category, the applicant proceeds via one of two application processes—an adjustment of status (AOS) or consular processing—depending upon where they currently reside.
  4. The first process (adjustment of status) is designed for applicants who have already legally entered the U.S. (for example, via a temporary work visa). These applicants file an adjustment of status application with the USCIS. (For the second possible process, skip to step 7.)
  5. The USCIS receives the application and researches the applicant. A background check is performed; the applicant's fingerprints, photo, and signature are recorded; the applicant is interviewed; spouses and other sponsors may also be interviewed.
  6. The USCIS makes its decision and mails either a rejection letter or a Green Card to the applicant's most recent address.
  7. The second possible process, consular processing, is designed for applicants who do not yet reside in the United States (or who are otherwise ineligible for an AOS application). The process of screening and interviewing is quite similar, but is performed through representatives at the U.S. consulate or embassy in the applicant's current home country instead of the USCIS.
  8. If the applicant passes the screening process, they are issued an immigrant visa that enables them to travel to the U.S., where they are made a permanent resident upon their arrival and mailed a green card within approximately four months.

The green card system's various queues already include millions of applicants, and many thousands more apply each year. This volume of applications often overwhelms the system and results in months- or years-long wait times for applicants in most categories. To help manage expectations and streamline processing, the U.S. Department of State releases a monthly visa bulletin that indicates when applicants in family- or employment-based categories should submit their documentation to proceed from step 2 to 3 (above). Applicants who have a "priority date" (which they should have received upon filing their initial immigrant petition) earlier than the application date in the chart below may assemble and submit the required documents.

Family-Based Green Card Backlogs (March 2022 bulletin)

F-1: Unmarried Children (21 and Older) of U.S. Citizens

F-2A: Spouses and Unmarried Children (under age 21) of U.S. Green Card Holders

  • General: No wait
  • China (mainland): No wait
  • India: No wait
  • Mexico: No wait
  • Philippines: No wait

F-2B: Unmarried children (age 21 or older) of U.S. Green Card Holders

  • General: 22-Sep-16
  • China (mainland): 22-Sep-16
  • India: 22-Sep-16
  • Mexico: 01-Mar-01
  • Philippines: 01-Oct-13

F-3: Married Children of U.S. Citizens

  • General: 22-Aug-09
  • China (mainland): 22-Aug-09
  • India: 22-Aug-09
  • Mexico: 08-Oct-00
  • Philippines: 01-Oct-03

F-4: Siblings of U.S. Citizens

  • General: 01-Oct-07
  • China (mainland): 01-Oct-07
  • India: 01-Jan-06
  • Mexico: 22-Aug-99
  • Philippines: 01-Feb-04

Employment-Based Green Card Backlogs

EB-1: Extraordinary People, Outstanding Researchers and Professors, and Multinational Executives and Managers

  • General: No wait
  • China (mainland): No wait
  • Central America: No wait
  • India: No wait
  • Mexico: No wait
  • Philippines: No wait

EB-2: Exceptional People and Advanced Degree Holders

  • General: No wait
  • China (mainland): 01-Apr-19
  • Central America: No wait
  • India: 01-Sept-13
  • Mexico: No wait
  • Philippines: No wait

EB-3: Bachelor’s Degree Holders, Skilled Workers, and Unskilled Workers

  • General: No wait
  • China (mainland): 01-Apr-18
  • Central America: No wait
  • India: 22-Jan-12
  • Mexico: No wait
  • Philippines: No wait

EB-4: Special Immigrants

  • General: No wait
  • China (mainland): No wait
  • Central America: 15-May-19
  • India: No wait
  • Mexico: No wait
  • Philippines: No wait
  • Vietnam: No wait

EB-5: Investors

  • General: No wait
  • China (mainland): 15-Dec-15
  • Central America: No wait
  • India: 01-Jan-20
  • Mexico: No wait
  • Philippines: No wait
  • Vietnam: No wait

Green Card Waiting Time by Country 2022

Country 2022 Population
China1,425,887,337
India1,417,173,173
United States338,289,857
Indonesia275,501,339
Pakistan235,824,862
Nigeria218,541,212
Brazil215,313,498
Bangladesh171,186,372
Russia144,713,314
Mexico127,504,125
Japan123,951,692
Ethiopia123,379,924
Philippines115,559,009
Egypt110,990,103
DR Congo99,010,212
Vietnam98,186,856
Iran88,550,570
Turkey85,341,241
Germany83,369,843
Thailand71,697,030
United Kingdom67,508,936
Tanzania65,497,748
France64,626,628
South Africa59,893,885
Italy59,037,474
Myanmar54,179,306
Kenya54,027,487
Colombia51,874,024
South Korea51,815,810
Spain47,558,630
Uganda47,249,585
Sudan46,874,204
Argentina45,510,318
Algeria44,903,225
Iraq44,496,122
Afghanistan41,128,771
Poland39,857,145
Ukraine39,701,739
Canada38,454,327
Morocco37,457,971
Saudi Arabia36,408,820
Angola35,588,987
Uzbekistan34,627,652
Peru34,049,588
Malaysia33,938,221
Yemen33,696,614
Ghana33,475,870
Mozambique32,969,518
Nepal30,547,580
Madagascar29,611,714
Venezuela28,301,696
Ivory Coast28,160,542
Cameroon27,914,536
Niger26,207,977
Australia26,177,413
North Korea26,069,416
Taiwan23,893,394
Burkina Faso22,673,762
Mali22,593,590
Syria22,125,249
Sri Lanka21,832,143
Malawi20,405,317
Zambia20,017,675
Romania19,659,267
Chile19,603,733
Kazakhstan19,397,998
Ecuador18,001,000
Guatemala17,843,908
Chad17,723,315
Somalia17,597,511
Netherlands17,564,014
Senegal17,316,449
Cambodia16,767,842
Zimbabwe16,320,537
Guinea13,859,341
Rwanda13,776,698
Benin13,352,864
Burundi12,889,576
Tunisia12,356,117
Bolivia12,224,110
Belgium11,655,930
Haiti11,584,996
Jordan11,285,869
Dominican Republic11,228,821
Cuba11,212,191
South Sudan10,913,164
Sweden10,549,347
Czech Republic10,493,986
Honduras10,432,860
Greece10,384,971
Azerbaijan10,358,074
Portugal10,270,865
Papua New Guinea10,142,619
Hungary9,967,308
Tajikistan9,952,787
Belarus9,534,954
United Arab Emirates9,441,129
Israel9,038,309
Austria8,939,617
Togo8,848,699
Switzerland8,740,472
Sierra Leone8,605,718
Laos7,529,475
Hong Kong7,488,865
Serbia7,221,365
Nicaragua6,948,392
Libya6,812,341
Bulgaria6,781,953
Paraguay6,780,744
Kyrgyzstan6,630,623
Turkmenistan6,430,770
El Salvador6,336,392
Singapore5,975,689
Republic of the Congo5,970,424
Denmark5,882,261
Slovakia5,643,453
Central African Republic5,579,144
Finland5,540,745
Lebanon5,489,739
Norway5,434,319
Liberia5,302,681
Palestine5,250,072
New Zealand5,185,288
Costa Rica5,180,829
Ireland5,023,109
Mauritania4,736,139
Oman4,576,298
Panama4,408,581
Kuwait4,268,873
Croatia4,030,358
Georgia3,744,385
Eritrea3,684,032
Uruguay3,422,794
Mongolia3,398,366
Moldova3,272,996
Puerto Rico3,252,407
Bosnia And Herzegovina3,233,526
Albania2,842,321
Jamaica2,827,377
Armenia2,780,469
Lithuania2,750,055
Gambia2,705,992
Qatar2,695,122
Botswana2,630,296
Namibia2,567,012
Gabon2,388,992
Lesotho2,305,825
Slovenia2,119,844
Guinea Bissau2,105,566
North Macedonia2,093,599
Latvia1,850,651
Equatorial Guinea1,674,908
Trinidad And Tobago1,531,044
Bahrain1,472,233
Timor Leste1,341,296
Estonia1,326,062
Mauritius1,299,469
Cyprus1,251,488
Eswatini1,201,670
Djibouti1,120,849
Reunion974,052
Fiji929,766
Comoros836,774
Guyana808,726
Bhutan782,455
Solomon Islands724,273
Macau695,168
Luxembourg647,599
Montenegro627,082
Suriname618,040
Cape Verde593,149
Western Sahara575,986
Malta533,286
Maldives523,787
Brunei449,002
Bahamas409,984
Belize405,272
Guadeloupe395,752
Iceland372,899
Martinique367,507
Vanuatu326,740
Mayotte326,101
French Polynesia306,279
French Guiana304,557
New Caledonia289,950
Barbados281,635
Sao Tome And Principe227,380
Samoa222,382
Curacao191,163
Saint Lucia179,857
Guam171,774
Kiribati131,232
Grenada125,438
Micronesia114,164
Jersey110,778
Seychelles107,118
Tonga106,858
Aruba106,445
Saint Vincent And the Grenadines103,948
United States Virgin Islands99,465
Antigua And Barbuda93,763
Isle of Man84,519
Andorra79,824
Dominica72,737
Cayman Islands68,706
Bermuda64,184
Guernsey63,301
Greenland56,466
Faroe Islands53,090
Northern Mariana Islands49,551
Saint Kitts And Nevis47,657
Turks And Caicos Islands45,703
American Samoa44,273
Sint Maarten44,175
Marshall Islands41,569
Liechtenstein39,327
Monaco36,469
San Marino33,660
Gibraltar32,649
Saint Martin31,791
British Virgin Islands31,305
Palau18,055
Cook Islands17,011
Anguilla15,857
Nauru12,668
Wallis And Futuna11,572
Tuvalu11,312
Saint Barthelemy10,967
Saint Pierre And Miquelon5,862
Montserrat4,390
Falkland Islands3,780
Niue1,934
Tokelau1,871
Vatican City510

Green Card Waiting Time by Country 2022

Sources