U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will assign you a priority date when you file an immigrant petition for yourself or when your relative or an employer in the U.S. files an immigrant petition on your behalf. Priority dates will be allotted to all the prospective immigrants for whom immigrant petitions have been filed.
Family Sponsored Preference Categories:
If your U.S. citizen or permanent resident relative files Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative for you, the date on which he or she files that petition properly will be your priority date. In case the USCIS rejects the petition due to inaccuracy or due to the submission of an incorrect fee, the date on which you correct the errors and file the application again with the right fee, will be your priority date. An immigrant petition will be accepted by the USCIS only if it is signed and filed with the right fees and all the required supporting documents.
Employment Based Preference Categories:
If an employer in the U.S. offers you a full time job in America and files Form I-140, Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker, the date on which the employer files the immigrant petition properly will be your priority date. In case the employer files an application for PERM labor certification prior to filing Form I-140, the date on which the employer files an application for PERM labor certification, will be your priority date.
Your priority date will be printed on the Form I-130 or Form I-140 approval notice that the USCIS issues after approving the immigrant petition.
The U.S. Department of State publishes visa bulletins every month. Visa bulletins include information on visa waiting periods. If your priority date is earlier than the Cut Off date listed in the visa bulletin, you will become eligible for an immigrant visa. However, this bulletin will not help you to know how long you need to wait for an immigrant visa or a green card.
When you find that your priority date is current, you can apply for adjustment of status if you are in the U.S. If you are abroad, you can file an application for an immigrant visa at a local U.S. embassy or consulate. You can apply for an immigrant visa within one year from the date on which your priority date becomes current. If you fail to apply within a year, USCIS will assume that you have abandoned your immigrant petition and issue your visa to the next person in line. Keep track of your priority date and take necessary steps to file your application soon after your priority date becomes current.
For information on visa processing times, USCIS service center processing times, USCIS local office processing times and expected border wait times, please visit http://uscisprocessingtimes.org/