For a variety of reasons, the U.S. continues to be appealing to citizens of other countries. In fact, according to the Migration Policy Insitute, more than 700,000 foreign nationals became legal permanent residents of the U.S. in 2020 alone. Some of them, though, waited a long time to apply for their green cards.
To control immigration to the U.S., federal law limits the number of individuals who may apply for an immigrant visa in any given year. This has led to some extreme backlogs. To know your place in line, immigration officials give you a priority date.
When is your priority date?
Most employment-based immigrants must go through the permanent labor certification process, which requires U.S. employers to try to find suitable American workers to do the job. If you are in the EB-2 or EB-3 category, this process probably applies to your position.
For these immigrant visa seekers, their priority date is the date on which their employers filed the permanent labor certification.
If you are in the EB-1 category or want to seek a national interest waiver, though, your priority date is likely to be the date on which your employer sponsor files your immigrant visa petition. This is because you probably do not have to go through the permanent labor certification process.
How do you know when your priority date becomes current?
After you know your priority date, it is important to check the visa bulletin every month. This bulletin, which is a product of the U.S. State Department, tells you when priority dates become current for each visa category and country.
Ultimately, because it is possible for the visa bulletin to retrogress, it is advisable for your employer to file an immigrant visa petition on your behalf as soon as your priority date is current.