Green Card Processing Insights from USCIS

In response to questions from the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) during a January 21, 2015 teleconference, the USCIS Service Center Operations (SCOPS) Directorate has provided clarifications on some common immigration questions. More specifically, SCOPS addressed issues that may arise when applying to become a U.S. permanent resident.

Concurrent I-140 and I-485 Filing Cases

Generally speaking, it is permissible to file an application to adjust status (form I-485) concurrently with an immigrant petition (form I-140) if the priority date is current. The AILA reps asked SCOPS about the case review process for U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) officers in such situations. SCOPS explained that any time an I-485 is filed before the I-140 is approved, the I-485 is held, awaiting the decision on the I-140 portion of the case. However, the USCIS will still initiate security checks within 15 days of the I-485 filing.

Once the USCIS approves the I-140 petition, the I-485 adjudication can proceed. At this point, it may be necessary to repeat the security check process, as the clearances are valid for unspecified, limited durations. The USCIS policy is to adjudicate cases on a first-in / first-out basis.

Card Production Timeframes: AOS vs. CP Cases

In most cases, the USCIS produces the plastic, permanent residence card (commonly, “green card”) (form I-551) soon after the I-485 is approved. Individuals who apply via consular processing, however, rather than adjustment of status, have experienced delays in receipt of the green card after admission to the United States.

SCOPS provided an overview of the process, including information on how long the process should take. Consular processing applicants are issued an immigrant visa at a U.S. consulate, and are also provided with an immigrant visa packet. This packet, then, is eventually collected by the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officer at the airport or other U.S. port of entry (POE). The CBP officer forwards the packet to the USCIS Texas Service Center (TSC). The TSC is responsible for entering the required data into the USCIS system and ordering the production of the card. The card is ordered only if the individual has paid the required domestic processing fee. This fee was established in 2013, as explained in the MurthyDotCom NewsBrief, New Immigrant Visa Fee Announced (21.Dec.2012). The card itself is produced by a separate office, which is located in Kentucky.

This process, according to SCOPS, should be completed within 45 days from the time when TSC receives the package, provided the processing fee has been paid. Individuals who experience delays in the process are directed to call the USCIS National Customer Service Center, at 1.800.375.5283.

Correcting Errors on the Green Card

In 2014, computer problems at the USCIS led to the issuance of green cards with incorrect information. The errors included cards with the wrong photographs, name errors, signature errors, and incorrect genders. In a situation such as this, SCOPS noted that individuals should use form I-90 to file a request that a green card be reissued with the correct information. If the error was caused by a USCIS mistake, this should be indicated on the form, which serves to waive the standard I-90 fee requirement.


An understanding of the government’s internal procedures during green card processing is helpful, especially if problems arise. This transparency by SCOPS is greatly appreciated. Those in need of assistance with green card filings are welcome to consult with a dedicated and experienced attorney from the Murthy Law Firm.


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Disclaimer: The information provided here is of a general nature and may not apply to any specific or particular circumstance. It is not to be construed as legal advice nor presumed indefinitely up to date.