Monday, December 15, 2008

What are preference categories and priority dates in immigration law and why do they matter?

There are 2 main routes to permanent residence (green card) in the US: employment-based and family-based. Less common routes include asylum, diversity lottery and investment.

Employment and family-based applicants are divided into different categories. In family cases, the categories depend on the family relationship. For example, married sons and daughters of US citizens are 3rd family-based preference. Employment cases are divided based on the type of position and job requirements. For example, foreign nationals in positions that require a master’s degree OR a bachelor’s degree and 5 years of experience are 2nd preference, or EB-2. For more details, click on the Permanent Residence link here:
Your priority date is generally the date that the first step in permanent residence (PR) was filed for you. This usually means the date that (a) labor certification was filed; (b) an I-140 was filed (if no labor certification was required); or (c) an I-130 was filed in a family-based case. Priority dates are important because they determine your place in the queue for the final step of the PR process. The Department of State publishes a Visa Bulletin every month, showing which priority dates are “current” for the following month. You can only file the final step of the PR process if the priority date is current.

The waiting periods vary depending on your preference category and your country of birth. The latest Visa Bulletin, showing the current priority date, is here:

No comments:

Post a Comment