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We used to live in Pakistan, while my aunt has been in the USA for 20+ years. My aunt sponsored my dad almost 10 years ago.

Our case is of type brother or sister (F4). We got immigrant visas and we all (total of 4 people) traveled to the USA on 10th September 2015.

We submitted green card fees after 3 or 4 days, and received an estimate that we would get our green cards in one month or less.

But today, 18th December, it has been more than 3 months, and we still have not received our green cards yet. We inquired about it and they said that they are still in process.

I want to ask some related questions:

  1. How much longer could it take to get our green cards? Some of us have to move back to Pakistan in about 30 days due to some personal reasons.

  2. I know a green card expires in 6 months if you stay outside the U.S. How many days would it take if we apply for extensions of our green cards after we receive them?

  3. For how long we can get extensions of the green cards? 2 years? or more?

  • 2
    You should submit each question separately. Stackexchange encourages you to "accept" a single best answer for each question, and if you post the questions separately, this is much easier to do. It also helps people who are searching for answers. (It will also enable you to earn more reputation, which you may or may not care about.) You could edit this question to remove questions 2 and 3 and then post two new questions to ask those. – phoog Dec 18 '15 at 18:33
  • The immigration department makes a snail look speedy. I know someone who came to the US in early January but didn't see their green card until IIRC May. – Loren Pechtel Dec 18 '15 at 21:10
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  1. How much longer could it take to get our green cards? Some of us have to move back to Pakistan in about 30 days due to some personal reasons.

It's hard to say, but how long it takes for you to get the card should not have any effect on any of your plans. You already became a permanent resident the moment you entered the US with your immigrant visa. The immigrant visa, upon being stamped on entry, is no longer a visa (immigrant visas are single use anyway), but rather turned into a temporary green card (I-551) valid for one year from the date of entry. This is equivalent to the plastic card (which is also an I-551) in every way, for all purposes, including working and traveling.

And even if you don't have the plastic card beyond a year (it shouldn't take that long, but it's possible for it to get lost, etc.), as a permanent resident you can always go into a USCIS office and get an I-551 stamp which again will be valid for one year and you can use it for all purposes.

Make sure to never describe your immigrant visa as a "visa" anymore because that will confuse people who will look at its expiration date. (The visa is invalid anyway.) Rather, always describe it as proof of permanent residence.

  1. I know a green card expires in 6 months if you stay outside the U.S. How many days would it take if we apply for extensions of our green cards after we receive them?

There is no such thing. The card expires in 10 years, and can be renewed when it's about to expire. Your permanent resident status never expires, even if the card is expired. Your permanent resident status can however be lost if you fail to maintain residence in the US (regardless of whether you have a valid card or not). There is no set amount of time outside the US that determines failure to maintain residence. It is determined by the totality of the circumstances and your intentions.

Separately, an I-551 (whether the plastic card, stamp, or endorsed immigrant visa) by itself, without anything else, is valid for re-entry after an absence of at most 1 year. If you get a Re-entry Permit, it is valid for re-entry for the duration of validity of the Re-entry Permit (a Re-entry Permit has a validity of at most 2 years). CBP may, however, admit you at their discretion even if you don't meet the above requirements.

Note that the above documents are valid for re-entry given that you haven't abandoned permanent residency by failing to maintain residence. If CBP determines that you have abandoned permanent residency, then they can put you into removal proceedings no matter how short your absence was.

  1. How many times can we get extensions of the green cards? 2 years? or more?

It can be renewed infinite times. Each time the card will be valid for 10 years.

  • on answer no 2, When GC is issued first time, it expires in 6 months if you are outside USA, either you have to travel back, or you have to get extension for 2 years. This is my main point, we have to go back to Pakistan, but we do not want to lose our GC. I have just heard of it, maybe I am wrong, but can you please provide me any references to your answers? – Umair Dec 19 '15 at 12:49
  • @Umair: You cannot get a green card outside the US. You are talking about an immigrant visa. – user102008 Dec 19 '15 at 19:24
  • @user102008 they already used the immigrant visa, and want to return temporarily to Pakistan while awaiting the delivery of the green card. – phoog Dec 19 '15 at 22:37
  • @phoog: Yes. They are saying something like "GC expires in 6 months" which doesn't make sense. GC doesn't expire for 10 years. The visa is already invalid, so when it expires is meaningless. The temporary green card the visa turned into is valid for 1 year from the date of entry, regardless of when the visa used to expire. – user102008 Dec 20 '15 at 2:02
  • When we receive GC, we would like to return back to Pakistan. But before returning back to Pakistan, we will apply for extension of GC. So question is, for how long we can get extension of GC? – Umair Dec 20 '15 at 16:15

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