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When an Immigrant Visa Number is issued to you by the State Department it means that an immigrant visa has been assigned to you, and you can now apply to adjust your status to permanent resident status.

Immediate relatives of U.S. citizens, who include parents, spouses and unmarried children under the age of 21, will have an immigrant visa number immediately available for them once the application filed for them is approved by the USCIS.

All other relatives and 'Employment' based applications have to wait for an immigrant visa number to become available according to the "preference system". U.S. law limits the number of immigrant visa numbers that are available every year, so you may not get an immigrant visa number immediately after your immigrant visa petition is approved. Occasionally, a number of years could pass between the time the INS approves your immigrant visa petition and the State Department gives you an immigrant visa number. Because U.S. law also limits the number of immigrant visas available by country, you may have to wait longer if you come from a country with a high demand for US immigrant visas.

Who Can Apply for a Immigrant Visa Number
Typically, your relative or employer (your sponsor) sends a visa petition to the USCIS on your behalf (the beneficiary) to become an immigrant. (Certain applicants such as priority workers, investors, certain special immigrants, and diversity immigrants can petition on their own behalf.) The USCIS will inform the person who filed the visa petition (the sponsor/petitioner) if the visa petition is approved.

The USCIS will then send the approved visa petition to the Department of State's National Visa Center, where it will remain until an immigrant visa number is available. The Center will notify you (the beneficiary of the application) when the visa petition is received and again when an immigrant visa number is available. You do not need to contact the National Visa Center, unless you change your address or there is a change in your personal situation that may affect your eligibility for an immigrant visa.

How can I check when my Immigrant Visa Number will be Available
Every approved visa petition is placed in chronological order according to the date the visa petition was filed.
The date the visa petition was filed is known as your priority date.
The State Department publishes a 'bulletin' which shows the month and year of the visa petitions they are working on by country and preference category.
You can guesstimate the amount of time it will take to get an immigrant visa number by comparing your 'priority date' with the date listed in the bulletin. For example, if you look under your country and preference category, and see that the State Department is working on applications they received in May 1996. If your priority date is May 1998, then you may have to wait several more years for an immigrant visa number to become available.

H&A ASSOCIATES, P.C     John D. Hu, Esq.http://www.hoolaw.com/

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