Priority Dates are a critical aspect of the United States immigration system. They are used to determine when a petition for residency or citizenship – that we submit on behalf of our Conexus MedStaff international healthcare professionals – will be reviewed by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). Read on to learn more about what Priority Dates are and how they are assigned.
What are Priority Dates?
In the U.S. immigration system, most petitions for family-based or employment-based residency require a visa. These can be oversubscribed for certain countries and employment categories due to the limited number of visas available by law each year. To manage potential issues of visa demand exceeding supply, the U.S. government uses a system called the Priority Date.
A Priority Date is the day that a petition is officially filed with the USCIS. Applications filed before the Priority Date have a smaller backlog to clear than those filed after the Priority Date. This means that the earlier the Priority Date, the more likely it is that an individual’s visa will be issued quickly.
How are Priority Dates assigned?
Priority Dates are assigned based on various factors including the type of immigration petition filed, the applicant’s country of origin, and their employment category. For international registered nurses and medical technologists applying to work in the U.S. with Conexus MedStaff, this is typically the EB-3 visa category for skilled workers, professionals, or other workers.
The USCIS issues a monthly Visa Bulletin that shows the current Priority Dates for each immigration category and country of origin. We provide a recap of the Visa Bulletin on our blog, highlighting the most important elements for our international healthcare professionals after each update is released.
Each application’s Priority Date is set as the date on which the USCIS received the application for a particular visa category.
Here’s a hypothetical scenario as an example: Conexus MedStaff submits an EB-3 visa petition on behalf of Teresa, a registered nurse from the Philippines, on June 1, 2023. As per the Visa Bulletin for September 2023, the EB-3 Priority Date for Filipinos is May 1, 2020. Teresa’s application will not be considered by the USCIS until the Priority Date moves to June 1, 2023 or later. The time it takes for the Priority Date to change is based on various circumstances, including the availability of EB-3 visas for Filipino nationals.
While there is no specific timeframe for Priority Dates to change, there are frequent updates due to how dynamic the U.S. immigration landscape is. Applying for a visa to move to the United States as an international healthcare professional can be a long process, especially with events such as retrogression, but it’s worth it in the long run!
Are you a registered nurse or medical technologist looking to start a new career in the U.S.? Apply now to find out how we can help!