The priority date is used by the Department of State to determine an individual’s place in line in the visa queue where there are a limited number of immigrant visas available in a given year. For family sponsored immigration, the priority date is the date that the petition is properly filed with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). The priority date for an immigrant petition that is based on employment is either the date the petition was filed with USCIS, or the date the labor certification application was accepted for processing by the Department of Labor.
When the priority date becomes current, the individual will be eligible to apply for an immigrant visa. The United States Department of State publishes a monthly visa bulletin which lists priority dates for different immigration categories and birth countries, allowing individuals to check their place in the visa queue.
Definition from Nolo’s Plain-English Law Dictionary
An immigration law term meaning the date on which a petition for immigration or a labor certification is first filed. The priority date is used to mark the intending immigrant's place in the green card waiting list (a list that tends to exist in every green card category that's subject to an annual numerical limit). Each month, the U.S. Department of State publishes a "Visa Bulletin" with an updated list of priority dates, meaning that anyone with a date that matches or is earlier than the dates on that list can stop waiting and continue with their application for a green card.
Definition provided by Nolo’s Plain-English Law Dictionary.
August 19, 2010, 5:22 pm