SubHntr - I hope things do work out for you all but I will be honest (I am not a lawyer but been through several of these situations).

If your wife broke the law in 97 illegally gaining entry in the US and finally corrected your paperwork. She'll probably need at least 5 years from when you corrected the paperwork before she can submit for Naturalization under the Good Moral Character clause. Hopefully, she wasn't transporting, holding or involved in any drugs, firearms or human trafficking (even helping people across the border). Those crimes are permanent denials of citizenship. There are other crimes in that list that present no appeals for citizenship.

Immigrants aren't automatic citizens and shouldn't be even if their kids and spouses are citizens. It took my mom 7 years to become naturalized. The additional 2 years was because we went back to Vietnam in 1974. There were too many issues without having my father there, not just a cultural or language barrier issue. My father served over 14 years in Vietnam, we left again in Feb. 1975, he left in April 1975. Even though she filed in 1973, her residency started in 1975. I remember teaching my mother how to speak and read English and US history, the government and especially the Constitution and Bill of Rights.

I know several families that came from Vietnam after us. When the boat people were leaving Vietnam most were detained and sent away. The ones that could find sponsors in the US, like our church back then and/or our family, they continued immigration into the US and took the normal 5-7 years to become US Citizens. However, those who came illegally and became legal took 10-15 years. Some were bitter that it took so long even the legal ones but better than deportation to socialist Vietnam.