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Priority Dates & Visa Availability

by Hamid R. Kashani, Attorney at Law
Nov 07, 2018 (last modified Sep 30, 2019)

How to check your visa availability?

You may check the current visa availability of a particular visa category for your country of origin at the U.S. Department of State's Visa Bulletin or USCIS' Adjustment of Status Filing Charts from the Visa Bulletin.

On the charts, you will see a column labeled “All Chargeability Areas Except Those Listed.”  The dates on that column apply to you unless you are from the other five countries or regions specifically listed. If the letter “C” appears under a column applicable to you, then the visa availability is current and is immediately available.

What are the “priority” and “availability” dates?

Most immigrant classes are subject to numerical limitations. For some of these classifications there are more applicants than there are available visas prescribed by the numerical limitations. In those circumstances, prospective immigrants receive a priority date which designates their place in queue for receiving an immigrant visa.

When you file, or somebody else (e.g., a sibling or employer) files, a petition with the USCIS to classify you as an immigrant, you will receive a receipt form showing your priority date. Usually, the “priority date” is the date the petition was filed with the USCIS.

Every month the United States Department of State publishes a document called Visa Bulletin. The Visa Bulletin shows the “availability dates” for each visa category.  If your “priority date” is at or before the published “availability date,” your turn has come up. If you are in the United States, you may then apply for adjustment of status.  If you are outside of the United States, the National Visa Center will contact you to further process your application.

The Visa Bulletin shows “availability dates” for some specific countries and for “All Chargeability Areas.” If you are from the specified countries or regions, you should check the dates applicable for that area. All others should use the date listed under the “All Chargeability Areas.” If the letter “C” appears instead of a date, then the visa availability is current and visas are immediately available.


Related Topics:

Consular Processing

Adjustment of Status

Child Status Protection Act (CSPA)


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