What is a priority date?
A priority date is the date at which a petitioner or potential immigrant to the United States has indicated their interest in obtaining a visa to the USCIS. The date is assigned once the USCIS approves of the immigration petition. Priority dates act as a queuing system for applicants due to the sheer amount the U.S. receives each year.
Priority dates are broken down by the type of immigration visa, the preference or priority level of each visa type, and what country the potential immigrant is coming from. Due to the sheer number of applications from China, India, Mexico, and the Philippines, these countries have their own dates set and there are sections for the rest of the countries in the world.
U.S. Department of State Visa Bulletin
The State Department and USCIS have worked together to create a system in which applicants awaiting further notice of their visa status can adjust their expectations for when they will be getting their visas. Every month, a Visa Bulletin is released indicating what priority dates are eligible to receive visas. In order to understand the bulletin, here are some guides:
- Priority Dates are listed in the past. If your priority date is earlier than the listed priority date on the visa bulletin, there is a visa available for your situation.
- In certain circumstances, priority dates may shift backwards if the case load was larger than expected but in most times, priority dates move forward.
- If labeled “C”, there are immediate visas available for that country, in that visa type preference level
- If labeled “U”, there are no visas available for that category at this time
Please visit the State Department’s Visa Bulletin page for the most up to date priority dates.