How long will I have to wait?
Every immigrant visa case is different, so it is difficult to estimate how long the process will take for any individual. But in general, there are three factors that contribute to the time required:
Time required to process petition. The time it takes for USCIS to approve a petition varies according to the type of petition and the specific USCIS office involved, but it generally takes at least 5-6 months for an immediate relative petition. Estimates for specific offices are available here.
Time to process through NVC and the Embassy. Once a petition is approved it is largely up to you how long it takes to get an interview appointment. The quicker you submit all requested documents to NVC, the sooner an appointment can be scheduled. Appointments are usually scheduled for the month after all documents are submitted. Visas are normally available within a few days of the interview.
Time for case to become current. For certain categories of immigrants, the law allows only a limited number of visas to be issued each year. These cases are processed strictly in order of the date the petition was filed (the priority date). Visas cannot be issued until an applicant’s priority date is reached (becomes current). This could take several years. While it is impossible to say exactly how long it will take, the Visa Bulletin, published monthly, lists the priority dates currently being processed, which may provide an indication.
NOTE: If the petitioner was a legal permanent resident (LPR) when the petition was filed, and subsequently becomes a U.S. citizen, the applicant’s immigrant visa category will probably change, and a visa may be available much sooner. If this applies to you, send a copy of your Certificate of Naturalization (not the original) to the NVC with a letter containing the applicant’s name and case number of the petition you want to upgrade.