What is the quota backlog?

Field of bamboo trees with walkway

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.”

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