There are two groups of family based immigrant visa categories provided under U.S. immigration law:
Immediate Relative Immigrant Visas (Unlimited): These visa types are based on a close family relationship with a United States (U.S.) citizen described as an Immediate Relative (IR). The number of immigrants in these categories is not limited each fiscal year. Immediate relative visa typesinclude:
The Family Preference Immigrant Visas have numerical limitation per year depending on the category. The family preference categories are:
A U.S. employer can sponsor certain skilled workers who will be hired into permanent jobs. Please click on our Employment-Based Petitions link to learn more about this process.
The United States law limits the number of immigrant visas available each year, with certain limits by country. In these limited categories, whenever the number of qualified applicants exceeds the available immigrant visas, the applicant will need to wait. In this situation, the available immigrant visas will be issued in the chronological order in which the petitions were filed. The date a petition was filed is called P riority Date.
In family immigration, this is generally the date the I-130 petition was filed with USCIS. For some employment based categories, this is the date your labor certification application was filed with the Department of Labor.
The Visa Bulletin sets out per-country priority date cutoffs that regulate the flow of adjustment of status (AOS) and consular immigrant visa applications. The Department of State releases a monthly Visa Bulletin announcing the priority dates for each of the visa categories.