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What is Visa Retrogression?

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Visa Retrogression

As indicated in our November 2021 Visa Bulletin post, significant retrogression related to the EB-3 category occurred. Here are a few questions and considerations for the individuals who are impacted by retrogression.

What is a Priority Date?

A priority date represents a foreign national’s place in line for the green card they are holding back to get. The priority date for employment-based cases usually corresponds with when the PERM labor certification was filed with the Department of Labor (DOL).

The U.S. State Department releases a Visa Bulletin each month. The State Department will utilize one of two charts for the current month’s Visa Bulletin. One chart is the “Final Action Dates” chart, which implies that a number is available for candidates. If their priority date comes before the cutoff date listed on the chart. The second chart that the State Department might use is the “Dates for Filing” chart. This chart shows when the individual can apply for a visa. An adjustment of the status application might be filed in the candidate’s priority date comes before the filing date listed in the chart.

For employment-based cases that don’t need a PERM certificate, the priority date is the I-140 filing date. More detail regarding priority dates and the Visa Bulletin is found here.

What is Visa Retrogression?

Consistently, the U.S. State Department Visa Bulletin reveals how priority dates move (or don’t move) for foreign nationals seeking to adjust from temporary status to permanent resident. Movement is dependent on various factors. How many Adjustments of Status applications were received by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) in the earlier month and the allocation of the Congressional yearly limit are both factors that could relate to this movement.

Foreign nationals with a priority date appearing after the cut-off date listed on the Visa Bulletin will be “retrogressed”. Essentially means the USCIS review of their pending Adjustment of Status application (if already filed) will be put on hold until their priority date becomes current once more.

What Does This Mean for Me if I’m Retrogressed?

If your priority date was previously current and an adjustment of status case is pending for yourself as well as your family. Your I-485 adjustment of status application will be put on hold until your priority date once again becomes current. However, your Advance Parole and Employment Authorization Document (AP/EAD) combo card will be processed and can be renewed even while your case is retrogressed.

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People should take note that Form I-140, Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker, isn’t impacted by retrogression. The form will continue to be adjudicated as usual even if an applicant is in retrogression.

If I’m Retrogressed, Can I Travel Internationally?

If your AP/EAD combo card is pending and you exit the U.S., the AP will probably be considered abandoned by USCIS and therefore denied by the agency. Pausing international travel until after an AP/EAD combo card is approved is a typical strategy.

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