How long do visas for family petitions take?

This week in my Consulta Migratoria column, I answer questions from readers. Each case is different and the answers vary depending on the immigration history of each person. Here I provide general answers to your questions. Please consult with an immigration attorney to receive personalized legal advice before beginning any process.

I am Salvadoran and I sent the re-registration application for my TPS on July 25. What are the chances of being left out if my application does not arrive before July 29 when the re-registration period closes? - Jeremias S.

Jeremías, I congratulate you for re-registering on time for the Temporary Protected Status (TPS) program. Your application should be accepted by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) as long as the envelope you mailed your application in is postmarked by July 30, 2013. Save your mailing receipts until your application is accepted for processing by USCIS.

I have a sister who is a U.S. citizen. In 2010 she applied for me and included my wife and children in the application. How long does it take before we can travel to the U.S.? -Luis C.

In St. Louis, U.S. citizens may petition for their siblings who are unmarried or married. If the siblings being petitioned are married, the family petition may also benefit their spouses and unmarried children under the age of 21.

The USCIS assigns the F4 category to this class of petitions. In addition, each petition is assigned a priority date which is usually the date when the USCIS accepted the petition for processing. There is a long waiting list for this visa class because only 65,000 F4 visas are granted annually.

According to the August 2013 Visa Bulletin, the federal government is processing F4 cases with a priority date before June 22, 2001. This date applies to all countries except Mexico and the Philippines. For individuals from Mexico, they are processing F4 cases with a priority date before September 22, 1996. You can monitor the Visa Bulletin by going to the following website:

I am being petitioned by my wife who is a permanent resident. I have been told that in 5 months I will be able to be with her in the U.S. Is this correct? - Gregorio M.

St. Gregory, U.S. permanent residents may petition for their spouses and unmarried children of any age. In the case of spousal petitions, USCIS assigns them to the F2A category.

According to the August 2013 Visa Bulletin, immigrant visas are immediately available for all F2A cases, regardless of the country of origin of the person being petitioned. Applicants who are abroad only have to wait for USCIS and the Department of State to process their applications, which takes an average of 8 to 12 months.

However, visa availability varies from month to month and a visa may not be immediately available for your case in the future. You should monitor the Visa Bulletin monthly to determine the availability of immigrant visas for your case.