Before an immigrant in Kentucky or across the nation can become a lawful permanent resident of the United States, he or she must be issued a visa. However, the government limits how many visas are available and, as of right now, there are more prospective immigrants seeking U.S. permanent residency than there are visas available. This means that not every immigrant will obtain a visa right away. How long it will take for the immigrant to be issued a visa is dependent on the immigrant’s priority date, his or her preference category and the nation he or she is coming from.
If the number of visas sought is greater than the amount available for a specific immigrant visa preference category and nation where the visa would be charged, then that category and nation will be deemed to be “oversubscribed.” This means that the U.S. Department of State will issue a cut-off date to ensure that the number of visas allocated stays in line with the limitations set by statute.
When an immigrant’s priority date falls earlier on the calendar than the cut-off date for his or her preference category and nation as listed in the Visa Bulletin, then that immigrant may be issued a visa. Let’s take a look at an example of this. Say the Visa Bulletin shows that for the country of Mexico in the Family 1st preference category, the cut-off date is 15AUG07, then if an immigrant’s priority date is before August 15, 2007, he or she may be issued a visa. Also, if a “U” shows up in the Visa Bulletin for a specific preference category or nation, that means that no visas are available at this time for anyone in that category or nation.
As this shows, the process of obtaining a visa so you can gain U.S. permanent residency is not always straightforward and it doesn’t always happen automatically. Therefore, those who wish to obtain a visa may benefit from seeking the help of an immigration attorney, who can guide them through the process and protect their rights.
Source: U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, “Visa Availability and Priority Dates,” Accessed Oct. 15, 2017