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What is an Immigration Priority Date?

What is an immigration priority date? How long do you have to wait? And what happens if there’s a significant change from one month to the next? Attorney Jeff Peek answers these and other questions regarding priority dates.

What is a priority date? 

The date that gets assigned to you when you file a petition for somebody to immigrate to the United States, it could be a family member filing for a family member or even a business or a company filing for a key employee.

Priority dates are essential when you are not, what’s called an immediate relative. Immediate relatives or people never have to wait. Immediate relatives include:  

– Spouses of U.S. citizens

– Children under 21 of U.S. citizens

– Parents of U.S. citizens

Others, such as spouses of permanent residents, brothers of U.S. citizens, have to wait depending on if an immigrant visa is available to them. That is equally true with employment-based petitions. In the employment-based immigration process, there are different wait times depending on the categories and the country. For instance, countries that are no stranger to waiting times on the employment-based are India and China. Some wait times there are substantial for the EB2 and EB3 categories. 

However, recently, there was a significant change in the visa bulletin for October for the EB3 category for India. There was about a five-year change. Many people from India are now asking if they can adjust their status to EB2. It’s vital to first talk to an attorney before filing the petition, but the answer to the question I most cases is yes. You can file a petition on an EB2 to downgrade it to an EB3 or file a new to petition a new I-140 to get classified as EB3 potentially. If your previous labor certification was in that priority date, pre-2015, you could adjust status immediately. 

How long do I have to wait? 

You can visit the visa bulletin here. Click on the most current month visa bulletin, scroll down, and find a chart based on family or employment-based petitions. Once you selected your category, it will also be broken down by country. If you can’t find your country, it’s because it’s lumped with the rest of the world in a different category.  

What happens if there’s a significant change from one month to the next?

Imagine if you were a beneficiary EB2 from India this month, and you didn’t realize that there was a considerable jump for EB3. You can lose the opportunity to adjust your status sooner than expected. Also, if you don’t take action within a year of that priority date, there could be some consequences.

If you have an immigration question, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us at 512-474-4445 or visit our website at www.peekandtoland.com.

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