Our office will host a FREE webinar on Thursday, April 16 at 7 pm Pacific/10 pm Eastern [10 am April 17, Beijing time]. Simultaneous Chinese translation will be provided. During the webinar we will be able to answer your questions.
1. WHAT IS THE “QUOTA BACKLOG”?
The Immigration and Nationality Act sets limits on how many green card visas may be issued each Fiscal Year (October 1 through September 30) in all visa categories. The law provides that no one country may have more than a specific percentage of the total number of visas available annually. If these limits are exceeded in a particular category, for a particular nationality, a waiting list is created and applicants are placed on the list according to the date of their case filing. This date is called a “Priority Date.” The priority date is the single, most important, factor in any immigration case.
2. WHAT IS THE “PRIORITY DATE”?
For EB-5 applications, the priority date is established on the date USCIS receives your I-526 petition.
3. WHY IS THE PRIORITY DATE IMPORTANT?
In order for an individual to obtain an immigrant visa, a visa number must be available to you. This is referred to as the priority date being “current.” The priority date is current if there is no backlog in the category, or if the priority date is on or before the date listed as current in the State Department’s monthly Visa Bulletin. This Bulletin is accessible at http://travel.state.gov/content/visas/english/law-and-policy/bulletin.html. You may sign up online to have the Visa Bulletin automatically e-mailed to you by the State Department each month.
4. WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THE VISA CATEGORY BEING “U” (UNAVAILABLE) AND “MM/DD/YY” (QUOTA BACKLOG)?
Unavailable means that there are no more visas available at all for the month. If there is a date noted (i.e. 05-01-13), it is considered to be the cut-off date, and that means that there is a “quota backlog”. Only individuals who have a priority date earlier than the cut-off date i.e. 04-30-13 may move forward with the permanent resident process.
5. WHAT DOES “C” MEAN?
“Current” – this means that there is no quota backlog in this category.
6. WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO BE “CURRENT”?
If there is a “C” in your employment-based (EB) category on the Visa Bulletin, then there is no quota backlog and you may proceed with your I-485 adjustment application or immigrant visa application.
7. IF THE VISA BULLETIN SHOWS A DATE OF 05-01-13 AND MY PRIORITY DATE IS 05-01-13, IS MY PRIORITY DATE CURRENT?
No. In order for the priority date to be current, it must be a date prior to the date published in the visa bulletin.
8. HOW OFTEN DO THE BACKLOGS CHANGE AND WILL THEY IMPROVE?
Each month, the State Department issues the visa bulletin, usually in the middle of the month. When the bulletin is issued, it will provide information that will take effect on the first day of the following month. (i.e., on 05-09-15, the DOS will release the dates effective as of 06-1-15). Depending on the availability of immigrant visas, the priority dates in each category and for each country can change each month. However, please note that the priority dates can also stay the same. They can move very slowly or progress by several months or even by years. They can move forward or backward. Therefore, it is very hard to anticipate what the priority date will be in a future month or when a category will become current.
9. THE CUT-OFF DATE IS MAY 1, 2013. DOES THIS MEAN THAT IT WILL TAKE 2 YEARS BEFORE THE PRIORITY DATE WILL BECOME CURRENT?
No. It all depends on how many visas are used, it could take 2 ½ years, or maybe 3 years. Please see the answer to the above question.
10. VISA AVAILABILITY IS BASED ON COUNTRY. IS THAT COUNTRY OF CITIZENSHIP OR COUNTRY OF BIRTH?
Your country of birth is what determines your country of chargeability.
11. MY SPOUSE WAS BORN IN A DIFFERENT COUNTRY THAN I WAS. SINCE THE I-485 IS BASED ON MY INVESTMENT, DOES MY SPOUSE’S COUNTRY OF BIRTH HELP ME?
Your spouse’s country of birth may also be used to determine chargeability. For instance, if you were born in China (mainland), but your spouse was born in Taiwan and there is a quota backlog for China (mainland), but no quota backlog for Taiwan in your preference category, you and your spouse may proceed with your immigrant process based on your spouse’s country of birth. Hong Kong, Macau, and Taiwan are charged separately from Hong Kong. However, your child’s country of birth cannot be used to determine chargeability.