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What happened? Quotas move backwards

By Atty. Paul Choi

Paul Choi is an immigration attorney practicing in Encino, California. As a public service, he will answer all questions regarding immigration and naturalization for free either by mail, email at pchoi@pchoilaw.com, on the phone, or in person or you may contact his administrator, Philip Abramowitz at 818 714-2226, or pabramowitz@pchoilaw.com. The following is one such question and the answer by Mr. Choi.

Question: I was petitioned by my father who is a permanent resident of the U.S. in 2002. I was ready to file for my adjustment of status last month but I did not have the money ready. Now I am ready to file and I found out that the quota is not open any longer. What happened? When will I be able to file? Why did the quota close?

Answer: This month, December, 2010, saw the quota for various petitions retrogress or move backwards causing thousands of persons to delay filing for adjustment of status or applying for immigrant visas. That trend continues in the January 2011 visa bulletin, where some categories moved back several years since the November 2010 posting.

What does this mean for you and others similarly situated? Persons who have priority dates after March, 2000, the current quota for Family based second preference, (adult children of immigrants,) will have to wait at least several months as it looks like the quota will remain backlogged for some time to come.

Petitions by citizens

The priority date for the First Preference Category, F-1 (unmarried sons and daughters of US citizens, over 21 years of age) retrogressed by 2 years and 10 months from April 1, 1997 to June 1, 1994.

The Third Preference Category, F-3 (married sons and daughters of United States citizens) retrogressed by 8 months and 9 days from July 1, 1992 to October 22, 1991.

The Fourth Preference, F-4 (brothers and sisters of United States citizens) priority date remained the same at January 1, 1988.

Petitions by green card holders

The Second Preference, F-2A (Spouse and minor children (below 21 years old) of permanent residents) retrogressed by about 2 years and 7 months from August 1, 2010 to January 1, 2008.

The Second Preference, F-2B (unmarried sons and daughters, over 21 years of age, of green card holders) retrogressed by 9 months and 15 days from March 1, 2000 to May 15, 1999 and by more than two years since just last month.

Petitions by employers

However, the Third Preference (professionals and skilled workers) of Employment-Based Petitions (Based upon Labor Certification and Nurses or P.T.’s) priority date moved forward by 1 month from February 22, 2005 to March 22, 2005. The priority date for unskilled (other) workers remained the same at April 1, 2003.

Each month, the Visa Office of the State Department publishes the priority dates for that particular month. This means that visas (or green cards) would now be available for persons whose priority date is at least one day earlier than the cut-off date listed above. If your priority date was “current,” but moved backward (or even became “unavailable”) before your immigrant visa was issued (or before you adjusted status in the US), you would have to wait until it becomes current again. If you were lucky enough to have an application for adjustment of status already filed when the quota was available, and the quota subsequently retrogressed, your application is not denied but rather, held in abeyance, until the quota opens again. If you find yourself in this situation, you can renew your work permit and lawfully remain in the U.S. while the adjustment application is pending. However, if you have not yet filed for adjustment of status, you are not eligible until the quota moves forward sufficiently for your priority date to become available. Be sure to maintain your non-immigrant status to be able to adjust or be sure to check eligibility under Section 245 i if you are out of status.

I cannot tell you definitely when you will be able to file for adjustment of status but you can check every month on the internet for the visa bulletin at www.travel.state.gov.


Atty Paul Choi will answer all questions regarding immigration, naturalization and deportation defense for FREE. Contact him at pchoi@pchoilaw.com or at 818 714-2226. He is located at 16000 Ventura Blvd, Ste. 1201, Encino, California 91436.

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