Green Card Priority Dates

As a prospective immigrant person, you are able to find your priority date on Form I-797. It also calls “Notice of Action” form for the petition filed on your behalf. You need to understand that the waiting time of expecting of receiving your immigration visa or adjusting status depends on several factors.

Video — What is Priority date?

Here are the list of it:

  1. The demand for and supply of immigrant visas;
  2. The per-country visa limitations;
  3. The number of visas allocated for your preference category.

Priority Dates for Family-Sponsored Preference Cases

For family-sponsored immigrants, the priority date is the date that the Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative, or in certain instances the Form I-360, Petition for Amerasian, Widow or Widower, or Special Immigrant, is properly filed with USCIS.

Priority Dates for Employment-Based Preference Cases

For employment-based immigrants, the priority date depends on several positions too. If your preference category requires a labor certification from Department of Labor (DOL), then your priority date is the date the labor certification application is accepted for processing by DOL. To preserve the priority date, you must file Form I-140, Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker, with USCIS within 180 days of the DOL approval date on the labor certification or else the labor certification is no longer valid. If your preference category does not require a DOL labor certification then USCIS accepts Form I-140 for processing to classify the sponsored worker under the requested preference category.

If you are a fourth preference special immigrant, including religious workers then USCIS accepts Form I-360, Petition for Amerasian, Widow or Widower or Special Immigrant, for processing.

If you are a fifth preference investor then USCIS accepts Form I-526, Immigrant Petition by Alien Entrepreneur, for processing.

Checking your case in the visa queue

The Visa Bulletin allows you to check your case status in the immigrant visa queue. The Visa Bulletin provides the most recent date for when a visa number is available for the different categories and countries for family-sponsored, employment-based and diversity green card visas.

Your visa must be available before you can take one of the important final steps in the process of becoming a lawful permanent resident. There is a rule in the law that the exact amount of immigrant can become permanent residents each year. Only limited number of such category visa allow for every year. You have to clearly understand that not everyone can get the visa immediately, especially the immigrant visa cases must be checked careful.

The time of waiting your visa arrives depends on your priority date, preference category and type and the country where the visa will be charged to.

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A visa can be available for you when your priority date is earlier than the cut-off date shown for your preference category. Also, if the country of chargeability in the applicable chart in the Visa Bulletin, as described above in the Acceptance of Adjustment of Status Applications section.

There are some situations, when a priority date that is current one month will not be current the next month, or the deadline date will move backwards to an earlier date. This term is also calls visa retrogression. This can occurs when more people apply for a visa in a particular category than there are visas available for that month.

As usual, visa retrogression can happen when the annual limit for a category or country has been exhausted or is expected to run out soon. When the new fiscal year begins, for the United States it is on October 1st, a new supply of visa numbers becomes available. Usually, but not as a rule, the new supply returns the cut-off dates to where they were before retrogression. This means the balance will be returned to the system and all be done for your comfort.

If you are asking for adjustment of status on a family base and employment-based preference category, you may concurrently file your Form I-485 with the Form I-130 or Form I-140.

This is possible only if:

  1. Your priority date is earlier than the cut-off date listed in the “Application Final Action Dates” chart in the monthly Visa Bulletin for your preference category and country of chargeability.
  2. The Visa Bulletin chart indicates “C” instead of a specific cut-off date, meaning that your preference category and country of chargeability is current and that you may file Form I-485 regardless of the priority date.
  3. When permitted by USCIS your priority date is earlier than the cut-off date listed in the “Dates for Filing Applications” chart for your preference category and country of chargeability.
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From the first of October, a new year which is FY2017 will starts. EB2 India has become a new EB3 India now. Previously, it was safe that if you filed your permission and I-140 in EB2I, you will most likely get your EAD within 4–5 years and green card within 5–6 years.

This happened because of the lots of unused green cards from an annual quota of 140,000 which used to flow down to EB2I as a spillover. EB4 and EB5 usage was low. Those unused number of green card applications were spilling over to EB1. But EB1 usage wasn’t optimal either. So those extra green cards from EB4, EB5 and EB1 category used to come to EB2. Since EB2 ROW (Rest of the World) has always been current with their priority dates, those spill overs were applied to Indian and Chinese applicants waiting under EB2 category. EB3 was the ultimate sufferer.