priority date

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Priority date is the date on which an application was filed with the immigration authorities.

It is used by the Department of State (DOS) 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 United States 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 (DOL).

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.

For more information on visa availability and priority dates, see USCIS Visa Availability and Priority Dates.

[Last updated in April of 2022 by the Wex Definitions Team]