What is a priority date and why is it important?

The priority date is the date the labor certification is filed with DOL for processing. This date becomes relevant at the final stages in the green card process in the event of quota backlogs for immigrant visa numbers as it will essentially establish the foreign worker’s “place in line” for an immigrant visa in the applicable visa category. The priority date will be indicated on the I-140 Immigrant Petition when the petition is filed, and upon approval of the petition it will place the foreign worker’s name on the visa waiting list in chronological order by date. Once the priority date becomes current for the applicable visa category the final step of the green card process, consular processing or adjustment of status, may be sought. The final processing of the green card cannot occur unless the priority date is current.