Your Place in Line: A Guide to the Immigration Priority Date

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The world of immigration is a tricky one, especially in a country with as many hoops to jump through as the United States. There are a lot of different terms thrown around that may or may not apply to you depending on your legal status.

Your immigration priority date is one of the most important dates in your path to citizenship. Failing to keep up with this date can mean forfeiting your spot in the immigration process and needing to start over from scratch.

Here’s how this priority date works and what role they serve.

What Is an Immigration Priority Date?

An immigration priority date is a date that the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services officially received your petition for a green card. In practice, it functions as an applicant’s place in line for consideration. The priority date is found on Form I-797, Note of Action.

Once the priority date becomes current, applicants can proceed with their application. Becoming current means that they’ve reached the front of the line and can now get a green card.

You can apply for an immigrant visa at a U.S. Consulate or Embassy or apply for adjustment of status if you’re already in the U.S.

Immigration Cut-Off Date Factors

On the visa bulletin, there are “dates for filing” listed that detail the earliest dates when Green Card applicants can apply. These dates are often used to notify immigrant applicants outside of the United States to prepare themselves.

How long you wait for your priority date to become current can change depending on any unexpected backlogs. You can review the Visa Bulletin to determine eligibility to adjust your visa status. Any errors in your application can delay your priority date since you’ll need to redo it.

Family-based immigration priority dates are limited every year for distant family relations. However, immediate relatives such as a spouse, child, or parent are not limited.

Planning For Your Application

Before you apply for a green card, make sure that you’re eligible. Additionally, take a look at the Visa Bulletin to see if there are any available at the time you apply. If you have an immediate family member already living here, you won’t have to worry about limited availability.

Most importantly, get an immigration lawyer if you can. An experienced lawyer can help guide you through the process and avoid any trouble. You can also turn to them if you have any questions or are generally unfamiliar with immigration law.

Click here for more info on the value of immigration lawyers.

Lining up for a Green Card

Applying for a green card isn’t as simple as sending in your application and waiting for approval. Failure to keep up with your immigration priority date will cause the government to assume that you are no longer interested in pursuing permanent residence. Reach out to an immigration lawyer if you need help keeping up with every step of the process.

Check out our other articles for more information on legal and other topics. 

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