My research has uncovered a variety of factors that will influence how
long it will take for your wife to have her green card application
processed. These include her country of origin, her employment
preference category, and her state of residence. New York currently
has the largest backlog in the country.
At best, it appears it will take her 12 months to complete the process
if she is in a category that is "current," which means that visa
numbers are currently available. On average, because of backlogs in
many employment preference categories lasting 5 years on average, the
process is taking about 6 years. There is at least one extreme case
of a file that has awaited labor certification for nine years.
The labor certification process generally has taken 30 to 90 days
historically. Unfortunately, some cases have waited up to nine years
at the Department of Labor. Plans for streamlining the process hope
to limit labor certification time to no more than 60 days. The
existing Department of Labor backlog should be eliminated by September
30, 2007. However, labor certification is far from the end of the
total wait time potentially required.
A green card backlog exists for many employment preference
category/country of origin combinations. An individual cannot file an
application to adjust status to that of a lawful permanent resident in
the United States until a visa number is available in their category.
Once a visa number is available, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration
Services will process the application within 11 months on average,
compared to 20 months last year. The goal is to reduce the wait time
to no more than six months by the end of 2007.
"As of July 2006, most foreign workers must wait nearly five years
from the time the employer began the sponsorship process to file their
paperwork, according to the Department of State web site."
"Skilled Workers Suffer for Years in Immigration Backlog" Associated
Press, AOL News (June 22, 2006)
Note that a process exists so that your wife can remain eligible to
work while she waits:
"Q: How do I stay work-eligible in the U.S. if it will take so long to
get a green card?
A: H-1B's are protected against long green card waits in two ways: 1)
if you have a pending labor cert, filed before the end of your 5th
year of H time, you can extend your present H in annual increments,
indefinitely, and until approval of your I-140; 2) if you have an
approved I-140 and are prevented from filing an I-485 due to green
card backlogs, you can extend your H in three year increments, until
your priority date is reached."
"Questions and Answers about Backlogs and Priority Dates for
Employment-based Green Cards" Miller Mayer (2006)
I have provided a number of sources below that will give you more
insight into how the process works and how to view information about
the status of the green card backlog in various categories by
accessing the monthly "Visa Bulletin" published by the US Department
"FAQ: Obtaining U.S. Permanent Residence (the "Green Card") Through
Employment" Berry, Appleman & Leiden LLP
"Green card, red tape" By LESLIE CASIMIR, New York Daily News (October
2, 2005) http://www.nydailynews.com/news/local/story/351525p-299858c.html
"Backlog keeps immigrants waiting years for green cards" By Sergio
Bustos, USA Today (January 26, 2005)
"For many in the US, the green card wait is long" Washington Post
(July 25, 2005) http://www.workpermit.com/news/2005_07_25/us/green_card_wait.htm
"State Department Expects Backlog In Employment Based Third Preference
(EB3) Immigrant Visa Category As Early As January 2005" American
Immigration Network (September 16, 2004)
"Visa Bulletin" US Department of State (July 2006)
page that links to the current "Visa Bulletin" can be accessed at
"LABOR CERTIFICATION BACKLOG TO BE ELIMINATED BY 9/30/2007"
Cella-Associates (June 2, 2006)
Search terms: green card backlog; time to process green card application