How Long Does it Take for USCIS to Make a Decision After an Interview?

Updated on April 10, 2024

At a Glance

  • The USCIS decision time varies depending on factors such as the type of application and processing center.

  • Naturalization and green card applications often experience delays.

  • Factors include the high volume of applications, new policies, and requests for evidence (RFEs).

  • RFEs are common and require a response within 30-90 days.

  • Background checks and incomplete processing can also cause delays.

  • Citizenship applications can be approved on the same day or within 120 days.

  • Legal recourse options, like judicial review, exist for unresolved cases.

  • Consulting an immigration attorney can provide guidance on expediting the process.

The journey to U.S. citizenship or permanent residency includes a critical step: the interview with USCIS. After this pivotal moment, the burning question is: “How long until USCIS reaches a decision?” In this guide, we’ll explore USCIS decision timelines post-interview, reasons for potential delays, and tips for expediting the process. Whether you’re pursuing citizenship or a green card, understanding this phase of the immigration process is crucial.

The Short Answer: How Long to Get a Decision?

After completing an interview for naturalization or citizenship, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) typically takes about 120 days to make a decision on your case. This time frame is used by USCIS to review your application thoroughly based on their governing policies, laws, regulations, and precedent decisions. However, there are circumstances where this process may take longer, and if a decision is not issued within 120 days, you have the option to request a judicial review of your application in district court.

USCIS Decision Timelines Following Your Interview

When you’ve completed your interview with the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), it’s natural to be curious about the next steps and how long it will take to receive a decision on your naturalization or citizenship case. Here’s what you need to know:

Standard USCIS Review Period

USCIS typically takes about 120 days to decide on naturalization or citizenship cases post-interview, using this time to review applications based on their policies, laws, regulations, and precedent decisions. This process may be longer in some cases, though.

Possible Delays and Their Implications

While the 120-day guideline is standard, there are instances where your case might take longer due to various factors not directly associated with your specific situation. If USCIS does not issue a decision within this 120-day period, you have the option to request a judicial review of your application in district court.

Expedited Processing in Special Circumstances

In certain scenarios, you might be eligible to request expedited processing of your application, although there’s no legal obligation for USCIS to hasten their process. Circumstances that might warrant such a request include:

  • Emergency situations necessitating swift citizenship, like a severe illness requiring immediate treatment.
  • Significant financial loss to you or your business due to case delays.
  • Humanitarian reasons, such as ongoing war.
  • Government requests to expedite your case in the interest of national security.

Taking Action if Delays Exceed 120 Days

If your case extends beyond the standard period, you have a couple of options:

  1. File a Mandamus: This is a civil action lawsuit aimed at compelling a government entity, in this case, USCIS, to act on your case. A mandamus doesn’t involve the judge reviewing your application but orders USCIS to make a decision.
  2. Judicial Review: You can request a judicial review of your application by the US Federal District Court in your area if your case is delayed beyond the 120-day mark.

Why Does it Take So Long for USCIS to Make a Decision?

Waiting for USCIS to make a decision on your immigration application can be a challenging and often lengthy process. Several factors contribute to the extended processing times.

Firstly, the USCIS is a Federal sub-agency responsible for processing a vast number of applications. Unfortunately, this immense workload sometimes exceeds their capacity, leading to delays in processing times. Additionally, changes in policies and regulations at the USCIS can introduce new restrictions and requirements for different immigration applications, further increasing their workload and extending processing times.

The duration of your application’s processing can also depend on the specific type of application you are submitting. Let’s take a closer look at green card and naturalization applications as examples.

Green Card Application

In many cases, USCIS officers conducting your green card interview can grant immediate approval. However, there are instances when a final decision is delayed due to insufficient evidence.

When this occurs, the USCIS may issue a Request for Evidence (RFE) if they encounter unusual circumstances during your interview or believe there is missing information in your application. Upon receiving an RFE, you will typically have a period of 30 to 90 days to respond with the requested information. USCIS will only provide a final decision on your green card application after receiving and reviewing the required information. Dealing with an RFE can add several weeks or even months to the decision-making process.

Delays Due to Requests for Evidence

While RFEs are a common reason for USCIS processing delays, other factors can contribute to extended wait times. Before your green card can be approved, you must successfully pass all relevant background checks and security measures. Additionally, there may be instances where your green card interview concludes before all components of your application have finished processing. For example, if the FBI is still processing your fingerprints, you will only receive your green card once they have completed their part.

Naturalization Application

In the case of citizenship applications, if everything proceeds smoothly and USCIS has all the necessary information to make a final decision, approval can occur on the same day as your citizenship interview. However, if this is not the case, USCIS is obligated to provide a response within 120 days.

Occasionally, the final naturalization decision may still experience delays, even if USCIS issues an update within the 120-day timeframe. This may be due to not passing the citizenship exam or failing to provide all the required information to USCIS.

If you do not pass the exam, you will need to retake it, while if USCIS requests additional information, you will have a 30-day window to provide it. The quicker you provide the necessary information, the sooner you can expect a final decision.

Why is it Taking USCIS So Long to Make a Decision?

As outlined above, several reasons contribute to USCIS taking an extended period to make a decision on your application. If you are concerned or uncertain about the status of your case and wish to understand why USCIS is taking longer than expected, you can check the status of your case and access the most recent updates online through the my USCIS Case Status Search page.

Should your concerns persist, it is advisable to consult with an immigration attorney. They can assess your situation and provide guidance on any actions you can take to expedite the process. Seeking legal counsel can help alleviate uncertainty and potentially speed up the decision-making process for your immigration application.

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FAQ: USCIS Decision Timeline After Interview

How long does USCIS take to decide on a case after an interview?

Typically about 120 days.

What if USCIS doesn’t decide within 120 days?

You can request a judicial review in district court.

Can the decision be delayed beyond 120 days?

Yes, due to various factors that you can learn about here.

Can I expedite my case decision?

You can request it in certain situations like emergencies or financial loss.

What if my case is delayed?

You may file a mandamus or request a judicial review. You can check your status here.

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Frank Gogol

I’m a firm believer that information is the key to financial freedom. On the Stilt Blog, I write about the complex topics — like finance, immigration, and technology — to help immigrants make the most of their lives in the U.S. Our content and brand have been featured in Forbes, TechCrunch, VentureBeat, and more.

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