Because the U.S. issues a limited number of employment sponsored green cards as determined by “preference” category and the applicant's country of chargeability (typically country of birth), most applicants who apply for a green card based on a job need to know their priority date.
Based on these limits, the State Department publishes a visa bulletin that shows a “cut-off date” which marks the current availability of immigrant visas (green cards). In a separate filing chart, the cut-off date signifies when an applicant can file an adjustment of status application in the United States or immigrant visa application at the U.S embassy.
It's clear that the priority date is the key to estimating when an applicant can be approved for the green card.
Here are the priority date rules that every employment based green card applicant needs to know:
- Your priority date is established when the PERM labor certification is filed with the Department of Labor and confirmed once the I-140 petition is approved.
- If no PERM labor certification is required, the priority date is established by the date the I-140 petition is filed with the USCIS and confirmed once the petition is approved.
- You will keep the same priority date in the approved I-140 petition and it will transfer to any new I-140 petitions.
- Even if the employer withdraws the I-140 or goes out of business, you will keep the priority date and can use it for new I-140 petitions.
- If the I-140 petition is revoked by the USCIS because of fraud or misrepresentation, invalidation of the PERM labor certification, or material error made when the I-140 was initially approved, the priority date cannot be used for new I-140 petitions.
To find out when you can apply for adjustment of status based upon your priority date, you must use the Department of State (DOS) visa bulletins charts listed on the USCIS website (not the DOS website). If you have already applied for adjustment of status and but have not been approved, keep in mind that visa availability can move backwards (retrogress) so even if you have applied for adjustment, your priority date must be current and a visa available before your green card application can be approved.
Resources: Department of State Visa Bulletin, USCIS Adjustment of Status Filing Charts from Visa Bulletin
We hope this article helps you understand basic immigration requirements, but please don't consider it as legal advice or legal opinion about your specific circumstances. Immigration rules are complex so contact a qualified immigration attorney for qualified advice and guidance.
For legal advice and guidance for your unique situation, you are invited to schedule a consultation by completing our contact form on this website.
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