According to USCIS, the average I-90 processing time is between eight and fifteen months. As outlined below, I-90 processing time varies depending on the circumstances of each application, as well as the purpose of an application (renewal or replacement green card). So, individual I-90 processing times could be much shorter or much longer than the average time.
This issue is an important one. Generally, citizens don’t need to produce physical Social Security cards or birth certificates to prove their identity. But green card holders must almost always produce a valid card that has the latest design and the latest security updates.
Factors Affecting I-90 Processing Time
Right off the bat, renewal requests usually process more quickly than replacement requests. In fact, replacements often take twice as long to process. In addition to verifying the application and supporting documents, the USCIS must also ensure that the green card was truly lost or stolen. Other factors include:
- USCIS Workload: Because of budget concerns and civil service laws, USCIS offices usually have fixed staffs. They usually can’t staff up during busy periods. Therefore, during peak demand periods, the same number of investigators do much more work.
- Application’s Precision: Some USCIS offices have review clerks who examine applications, as well as supporting documents, and immediately return forms with missing or incorrect information. Other times, the review process starts and suddenly halts because of such errors.
- Processing Center: Quite simply, some USCIS offices are slow. Maybe the office has a large backlog, maybe the office is understaffed, maybe the workers are unmotivated, or maybe it’s some combination of all three.
- Biometrics (Fingerprint): Many I-90 petitioners wait several months for a biometrics appointment. That delay obviously extends application processing time. Similarly, if the petitioner misses a biometrics appointment, who knows when the next available one will be.
- Complexity: We mentioned some complexities above, regarding verification of a lost or stolen green card. Other hiccups include prior migration infractions, criminal history, and pending removal proceedings.
Overall, I-90 processing time is so long because, in most cases, the same office doesn’t handle the entire verification and approval process. The application bounces around among several offices. Many of these offices don’t communicate with each other very well.
Expedited I-90 Processing
Passport applicants may pay extra for expedited applications. Private passport expeditors charge lots of money but, because of their inside knowledge, can reduce the application process to a week or even less.
Expedited I-90 processing is unavailable, unless the applicant has a hardship, humanitarian reasons, like immediate travel requirements, or situations involving extreme financial loss. Supporting document requirements vary.
We should mention that the real green card expiration date may be eight months before the listed expiration date, at least for travel purposes. In most cases, Homeland Security won’t allow immigrants to leave the country if their green cards expire within eight months.
Tracking Application Development
To track the development of your I-90 application, you can utilize the USCIS online case status tool or contact USCIS directly through phone or e-mail. Be prepared to supply your invoice number, which you get after filing the I-90 form.
When you file Form I-90, expect significant delays and try to be patient. Once the review process starts, there’s usually no way to speed it up.