Today I received my Green Card in the mailbox and I would like to share a complete timeline with you in case it is of any help to a few people.
My spouse had filed the I-129F form on 7/15/2016 and my K-1 Visa was approved on 12/13/2016 and sent to a pick up location overseas where I previously lived on 12/21/2016. I could’ve had the K-1 Visa received by mid-November 2016 but certain delays could not be avoided on my side.
I entered the United States with a K-1 Fiancée Visa and got married within the 90-day window. Following that, I filed all the necessary paperwork to Register Permanent Residence (Form I-485 based on an Approved Form I-129F Petition for Alien Fiancée) and be granted Employment Authorization (Form I-765 -? Eligibility Category: C09)
The timeline is as follows:
1/18/2017: Sent all the necessary paperwork to the USCIS Chicago Lockbox
1/20/2017 (Day 0): Paperwork delivered to USCIS
1/27/2017: Check was cashed
1/30/2017: Received two (2) Forms I-797C, Notice of Action (one (1) for each case) in which I was allocated a USCIS Alien Number and indicating that the cases have been received by their office (National Benefits Center, P.O. Box 648003, Lee’s Summit, MO 64002) and are in process.
2/03/2017: Received Form I-797C, Notice of Action scheduling my biometrics appointment
2/14/2017: Biometrics captured/taken at the Application Support Center in Long Island City, Queens, NY as scheduled and Form I-797C (ASC Appointment Notice) was stamped
4/6/2017 (Day 76): Raised a SR for EAD over the phone
4/18/2017 (Day 88): EAD Approved
4/27/2017 (Day 97): Received EAD card in the mailbox (NOT a Combo card)
4/28/2017: Sent all the necessary paperwork for I-131 (AP) to USCIS Chicago Lockbox. I included a letter which showed my timeline and in which I explained that as my I-485 application is still pending, I am applying for an AP (multiple trips) to allow me to visit my parents and relatives in case of an emergency. In the end, I requested that “IN CASE MY I-485 APPLICATION FOR PERMANENT RESIDENCY HAS STILL NOT BE PROCESSED BY USCIS AS OF TODAY, I WOULD GREATLY APPRECIATE IF YOU COULD PROCESS MY APPLICATION FOR THE ADVANCE PAROLE DOCUMENT (I-131) OR THE PERMANENT RESIDENCY (I-485).” In that same letter, I also explained that “THE DATE OF INTENDED DEPARTURE (filled out on my I-131 application) IS ONLY AN INDICATIVE DATE, AS I DO NOT INTEND TO TRAVEL OUTSIDE THE UNITED STATES BEFORE MY I-485 APPLICATION IS APPROVED, UNLESS AN EMERGENCY SITUTATION OCCURS. THE EXPECTED LENGTH OF MY TRIP WILL NOT BE MORE THAN 25 DAYS.”
5/02/2017: Paperwork for I-131 (AP) delivered to USCIS
5/04/2017 (Day 104): I had scheduled an Info pass appointment at Federal Plaza field office to ask about my I-485 case status. Officer was very kind and willing to check in their internal system. She informed me that my case had been received by the field office that same day (I couldn’t see that online on uscis.gov). I explained to her that I had already been interviewed 5 months earlier in the U.S. Embassy when I applied for the K-1 Visa, my biometrics had been successfully taken 3 months earlier and I had passed all background checks as I had received my EAD card. She seemed to understand and told me that processing could take from a couple of days to a few months.
5/09/2017 (Day 109): Green Card Approved (I-485 application)
5/15/2017 (Day 115): Received Green Card (I-551) in the mailbox
I truly believe that, the fact that I had not initially applied for an AP but only did after I received my EAD (and while my I-485 was still pending) explaining the purpose of my application, gave a huge boost (time wise) to the processing of my I-485 case. The info pass appointment could’ve also been a positive factor in the whole process as the officer or one of her colleagues might’ve looked into my case after my departure from the field office (my case was approved 5 days later). The fact that I initiated the appointment and showed up for a face to face meeting can also be perceived as a “nothing to hide” applicant. Every time I contacted USCIS (SR for my EAD, I-131 application with a letter requesting for my I-485 processing if possible, info pass appointment explaining my case and requesting my I-485 application to be processed if possible), a few days later I had a positive outcome. It seems hard to believe that this is just a coincidence as it happened, not once, not twice, but three times.
My advice from my personal experience is as follows: Always be 100% honest and kind in your communication with USCIS whether it is by phone, mail or face to face. If possible, try to pursue the K-1 Visa path. It seems to be a much faster way for people to register permanent residency as they are being interviewed in the U.S. Embassy abroad before entering the United States and applying for I-485. Therefore, after applying for I-485, the interview in a United States field office will probably get waived by USCIS (https://www.uscis.gov/policymanual/HTML/PolicyManual-Volume7-PartA-Chapter5.html)
; and your I-485 case will be processed much faster, unless there are red flags in your case (marriage fraud, background check issues, etc). Try to include as much information and proof as possible when you send your K-1 file to USCIS and the U.S. Embassy overseas.
Also, regardless of which path better suits your situation, devote as much time as needed to build yourself a strong case. I respect immigration lawyers and any other legitimate profession, but I believe that no one has more interest in your case that yourselves. Read the USCIS instructions carefully, gather all required documents, gather all other documents that strongly support your case (joint medical insurance coverage, sufficient sponsor income, sponsor’s last year’s tax returns, joint bank account, etc.) prepare your package, review the package carefully before mailing it out, have a loved and trusted family member/friend review it as well and then send it to USCIS for processing.
Good Luck to everyone!!!