Good news about my immigration status + questions you probably can’t answer

Today I received a notice of approval (Form I-797) of my petition for permanent residency from the USCIS. What this means is that I am past the first half of the permanent residency process, and my application has been sent to the Department of State National Visa Center (NVC). After it gets to the NVC, I will begin the process of getting my visa (technically my green card), but it will take some time.

I’m surprised that I got this notice so soon, because I submitted my petition in November 2007. The USCIS shows that for my type of petition, they are currently processing cases filed in 2002. Granted, that status page hasn’t been updated since May 31st, but I’m sure there’s no way they processed seven years of petitions in two months. I think I got very lucky.

I called the NVC to see if my information has been sent there yet, but no luck. Hopefully by the beginning of September I’ll be able to access my file there in order to find out what the next step is.

The thing that worries me is that this process concludes with an interview, which has to be conducted at a consulate. This means that I would have to go to Russia, and this also means that my petition would be void because I am out of status and cannot leave the country without receiving a ten year ban. I’m sure my family will have to speak to our lawyer about this. I can’t find any information about it online, which is frustrating.

I’ve also been reading the visa bulletin charts incorrectly. What I thought was the correct priority date for my type of petition turned out to be the wrong one. Look here for the August visa bulletin, then look at the first chart. My preference category is 2B because I’m unmarried and over 21 and my mother is a permanent resident. What I was reading before was 1A, which is for US citizen filers. Actually, if the courts decide to let me keep my original priority date, I would be classified as a 2A, because I was supposed to be a dependent until I aged out.

What this means is that the visa process will take 7.5 years instead of 4 years, unless I somehow get lucky again and bypass a bunch of people who are waiting in line.

Question number one: what do you think of this situation? Did I get really lucky?
Question number two: can I avoid having to do an interview abroad?
Question number three: is there any chance of not having to wait seven years for this visa?

I’m happy that I passed the USCIS background checks and my petition wasn’t denied, at least. I’ve made some progress.

Here are two flowcharts, one for the USCIS process, and one for the NVC process.