Each month, the Visa Office of the State Department publishes, in the Visa Bulletin, the priority dates for that particular month, for the various family and employment based categories. A priority date is a person’s “place in line” for a visa, meaning immigrant visas (or green cards) would be available for persons whose priority date is earlier than the cut-off date listed below. If your priority date was “current,” but later retrogressed (or “moved backwards” and became unavailable) before your immigrant visa was issued (or before you adjusted status in the U.S.), you would have to wait until it becomes current again.
Beginning last October 2015, the format of the Visa Bulletin changed, in that a new column was added, called the “Application Filing Date.” If a person’s priority date is earlier than the Application Filing Date, they can already file for adjustment of status and work authorization (provided they are otherwise eligible and USCIS indicates on its website it will use the Application Filing Date for that month). This could allow people to obtain work authorization much sooner than before, where they had to wait for the priority date to be current (in the Visa Issuance Date column) in order to both file for adjustment and be eligible for a green card.
Michael J. Gurfinkel has been an attorney for over 35 years and is licensed, and an active member of the State Bars of California and New York. All immigration services are provided by, or under the supervision of, an active member of the State Bar of California. Each case is different and results may depend on the facts of the particular case. The information and opinions contained herein (including testimonials, “Success Stories”, endorsements and re-enactments) are of a general nature, and are not intended to apply to any particular case, and do not constitute a prediction, warranty, guarantee or legal advice regarding the outcome of your legal matter. No attorney-client relationship is, or shall be, established with any reader.
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