Immigrant Visas
Immigrant Visas (Permanent Residency / Greencard)

Obviously, not all foreign nationals qualify for Permanent Resident status. Therefore, the first analytical step of a case is to determine whether the applicant's situation/basic fact pattern falls within any of the situations enumerated in the law for the acquisition of Permanent Resident status.

The status of Permanent Residence confers upon a foreign national an unrestricted, unlimited right of residence and employment, as well as the authorization to reenter the United States following trips abroad.  Although Permanent Residence functionally enables a foreign national to live in a manner similar to a U.S. Citizen, there are significant differences between the rights and responsibility of a Permanent Resident and a U.S. citizen.

Key aspects to keep in mind in determining eligibility for a foreign national to obtain Permanent Resident

There are essentially two dimensions affecting the time required in order for a foreign national to obtain Permanent Residence:

  • Administrative Processing Time
  • Backlogs Arising under the U.S. Quota System

Most immigration cases require designated U.S. Government agencies to review not once, but sometimes twice the underlying grounds for immigration eligibility.  Furthermore, a more crucial source of delay arises from the immigration quota system. Essentially, there are numerical limitations (ie., a quota) applied at three separate levels of the immigration process:

  • a worldwide quota that limits the overall number of immigrants allowed into the United States;
  • specific numerical limitations governing specific immigration categories (known as the Preference categories); and
  • a ceiling on the number of immigrants that can come from any one single country.

The allocation of these immigrant visa numbers is based upon a supply-demand principle in which the number of approved requests for visas is measured against the total number of available visas. In instances in which the demand exceeds the supply, visas become allocated in the order in which the applications were received. The filing date of a sponsorship petition is known as the Priority Date.  The backlogs are readjusted each month, as announced by the Visa Bulletin issued by the US Department of State.  Please refer to Visa Bulletin Link on this website for a more detail explanation on the Visa Bulletin.


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NOTE: Immigration law changes frequently. The resources and information provided on this web site are intended to help you understand basic issues involved in the immigration process, and are offered only for general informational and educational purposes. This information is not offered as, nor does it constitute legal advice or legal opinions. Although we strive to keep this information current, we neither promise nor guarantee that the information is the latest available, or that it applies to your specific situation. You should not act or rely upon the information in these pages without seeking the advice of an attorney.
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