What is the quota backlog?

The Immigration and Nationality Act sets limits on how many immigrant visas (green cards) may be issued each Fiscal Year (October 1 through September 30) in all immigrant visa categories except the family-based category of immediate relatives. In addition, in the employment-based area where immigration is based on employment and not family relationships or investment, nationals of each country may obtain immigrant visas in different preference categories (e.g., EB-1, EB-2, EB-3). The law further provides that no one country may have more than a specific percentage of the total number of immigrant visas available annually. If these limits are exceeded in a particular category, for a particular nationality, a waiting list is created and applicants are placed on the list according to the date of the labor certification filing or if the category is employment-based but does not require a labor certification, according to the date the USCIS receives the I-140 Immigrant Visa Petition. Such dates comprise the “Priority Date.”