How Long Will My USCIS Case Take in New Jersey?

Are you living in New Jersey? Have you filed for a green card or other immigration benefit with USCIS? If so, in this video, immigration attorney, Andres Mejer, explains how long it is taking USCIS to process different types of applications including green card (I-485), naturalization (N-400), and Certificate of Citizenship (N-600).

Transcript (Transcripción):

Andres Mejer :Welcome to the English portion of our program. Para Ser Legal, To Be lLgal. My name is Andres Mejer. I’m a published author, a public speaker and immigration attorney. And please don’t hold that against me. Today we have a fabulous program for you. Three things. One, how long is my case going to take being processed in New Jersey? Number two, how a crime can disqualify me from getting a green card. And can I overcoming. And 3, we’re going to talk about Piano Burgos, who was not allowed to buy over-the-counter cough medicine because of his perceived immigration status, even though he was a U.S. citizen and proved it. 

Andres Mejer :Number one. How long is my case taking to process in New Jersey? Well, New Jersey has two field offices, one in Mt. Laurel and one in Newark. Now, about two thirds of all cases adjudicated in New Jersey are handled by Newark and approximately one third in Mt. Laurel. There is discussion of opening a third office in Middlesex County in the Edison, New Brunswick area. We’ve heard that for years. It may even happen. Who knows if it does. You’ll hear from us. Now when we say how long does it take? Not every case gets adjudicated at a local field office. So for purposes of comparison, we’re really talking about three different types of petitions. First, Green Card petition. That’s the form I 485 I forty five. This is typically you file for something. It was approved and now you’re going for your Green Card. In some cases you’re filing both parts at the same time. In others, it’s a bifurcated process, but generally it could be a family based petition. Kobe an employer based petition. Asylum, U Visa or even VAWA. Violence against women act. You either filed that plus the ICE 45 to get your Green Card or you filed the first stage first, it was approved and now you’re filing for your Green Card. So however you got the path to file for it, you now have it. And that’s what you’re looking to achieve. That’s category number one. Category number two is naturalization or citizenship. This is form N-  400. This is the form you fill out to become a U.S. citizen. In most circumstances, you must have been a Green Card holder, lawful permanent resident for five years or more. However, if you got your Green Card from a marriage based petition, meaning your spouse applied for you. Well, then you could do it after three years. So citizenship you’ve had you’ve had your Green Card for five years or three years. That’s second category form N four-hundred third is certificate of citizenship. That’s form. N-six hundred. This is when you are you that you’re already a U.S. citizen. But the government doesn’t know it. For example, if you were born outside the United States to a U.S. citizen parent or your parents were Green Card holders, lawful permanent residents and applied for citizenship before you turned 18. So in that in either of those two scenarios you filed for form N-six hundred and you will get your U.S. citizenship because you are a U.S. citizen. It just hasn’t been documented. Right. Those are the three categories that we’re comparing in Newark and in Mt. Laurel. So in Newark, Green Card petition for I-forty five is takes anywhere from nine and a half months to thirty three and a half months. Yes, almost three years. N-four hundred. Since you’ve applications taking nine to 16 months, certificate of citizenship is taking anywhere from six months to eleven and a half months. Other words, it’s half a year to a full year in Mt. Laurel where much of our work is. Typically, Newark is our court appearances, but because every court is either you’re detained and it’s an Elizabeth or you’re not detained and it’s a Newark. But we’ve also had cases in Connecticut, Pennsylvania, Texas, Louisiana, New York. But we like Jersey. Less travel I-45 Mt. Laurel Green Card 9 months to 29 months. Citizenship five and a half months to 10 1/2 months. And then certificate of citizenship five and a half months to 19 and a half months. Now, just because immigration tells you it’s taking them about two or three years to adjudicate a petition does not mean you should wait that long. That’s a big no no. You file for something. Let’s say Green Card petition. You were fingerprinted. Your interview at the then after the interview, you don’t get a decision. You’re waiting 120 days. So four months, still no decision. You can file a complaint, a district court. It’s called a Mandamus application. You’re essentially saying, listen, government, you’re taking an unreasonable amount of time. This is purposely created by the Trump administrations, the decisions they put in place, putting more people in removal, putting people that were out of removal, back into removal, denying more petitions and requiring interviews for almost everything, while at the same time not hiring more officers, not opening more field offices. It creates a bottleneck. If yesterday you had three officers adjudicating a hundred cases and tomorrow you have three officers adjudicate 300 cases. Guess what? It’s going to take three times as long. It’s just that simple. So if it’s taking long. Don’t let it happen. File a Mandamus petition. Tell the government what they’re doing is not okay. And you’ll get a decision quicker. Doesn’t mean I’ll get approved. Just means you’re going to get a decision. Not every type of case are adjudicated in a local field office. For example, you visa is adjudicate typically in Vermont service center. We do a lot of u visa cases. We love you visa cases because with one petition you can help a whole family, whereas in other scenarios it’s case by case family known by family member makes it more expensive and it makes it more challenging. Only problem with U visa is it’s taking a long time. You visas. How long? Fifty seven months. Yes, you heard that right? Over four years. Yesterday, when I was preparing for the show, immigration was saying that they are reviewing petitions filed on March 12. Two thousand and fifteen, four years ago. It’s an exercise in patience because during that time you can be convicted of a crime. You can’t leave, can’t go back to the United States, you know. So and it can be challenging because, look, I could be in a car with my buddies. We get you know, he I’m not driving I’m a passenger. My buddy gets pulled over. He you know, they find that he has weed on him. He says it’s not his. And they charge everybody. All of a sudden I’m in immigration proceedings by something I didn’t do. It’s horrible. But that’s the kind of stuff that can happen today. So, you know, go be careful about who your friends are. So U-visa. 

Andres Mejer :We just talked about taking over for years. Affirmative asylum petitions, Now asylum petitions. There’s two kinds. There’s the kind where I am in removal proceedings. I mean, the government is trying to deport me and I’m saying, hold on a second. I’m afraid to go back to my country. Let me prove it. That’s called a defensive asylum petition. In that scenario, the person adjudicating it is an immigration judge. I am going to have a trial at the end of which that judge you can approve my petition or deny me. If he denies either accept that denial or I or I appeal in an affirmative asylum, it’s I’m not in removal proceedings. And so let me give an example. I entered the United States with a visa, which I did. I overstayed that visa. And I filed an asylum. Well, that’s I filed affirmatively. I should have filed the year within a year when I entered the country or when conditions changed. So my family came here in 81. Imagine 1981. We weren’t afraid to go back to our country. But imagine that last week there was a military coup and my parents were involved in politics. Today we go back. They might kill us now. That’s fate that happened in the 70s. It certainly did not happen lately. We don’t we’re not afraid to go back to Chile. But now I’m just telling you where it changed country conditions might allow me to file a affirmative complaint, affirmative claim today that I couldn’t. Years ago. 

Andres Mejer :So our local field office is in Lyndhurst today. We are seeing interviews being scheduled within three or four months of filing. Now, I have clients that are still waiting three years. Well, Andres, I don’t understand it. Is it make any sense? Why is that possible? Because the Trump administration has changed its policy. They are prioritizing not the people that have been waiting in line, not those that have filed, you know, years ago. No, we’re going to we’re going to adjudicate the line cutters. We’re going to adjudicate the first. The most recent person that filed. Why? Because I don’t want to give you work authorization. I want to deny your petition as quickly as possible. And I want to deport you as quickly as possible. That is what this administration is doing. So we’ve been seeing lately interviews within three or four months of filing. But that may very well change because we’ve been advised in the past couple of months that Lindenhurst office, as others, are focused on adjudicating petitions in the southern border. So I don’t know what’s happening now. I can only tell you what we’ve seen for cases we filed months ago. Now we’ve got several questions about people moving. So they filed for a petition. Say the U-Visa, all right. U-Visa’s taking fifty seven months. They want to move to a different area Texas, California, Newark, because they think that living in that area would immigration would review the petition faster. Well, that is usually not correct. Typically, moving will delay your process. Your case has to be physically moved from one office to another. It needs to be reviewed and needs to be assigned a new officer. That officer needs to review it. Imagine if in New Jersey, the local field office, there were about your petition had already been reviewed. 

Andres Mejer :You’re about to get submitted a notice for an interview. 

Andres Mejer :When they receive your change of address. Now, that officer has to pack it up. Send it to a new location. That location will say it will you will issue it to a new officer that also needs to review it and then you’re going to have the interview. So it could delay your process significantly. In addition, depending on the application, you know, you may very well have to be living in your jurisdiction for a while to file a new one. Now, don’t mistake this with the requirement to advise of a new address within 10 days of moving, because if you failed to do that, you’ll move and immigration sends you notice you don’t get it. Your petition might be abandoned. Now. USCIS sometimes moves transfers cases on its own. They typically do that from one office to the to another because there’s one office is backlogged and the other one has excess capacity. So they do that to speed up the review of your case. Not for any other reason. So thank you for listening. I’m Andres Mejer and I’m at your service.