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Have you been waiting years for your residency to be granted? Here is why it takes so long.


Congress sets limits on the number of immigrant visas that can be issued each year. In order to adjust status to that of legal permanent resident, an immigrant visa must be available to the applicant both at the time of filing and at the time of adjudication.  The Department of State publishes a monthly Visa Bulletin, which lists the cut-off dates that govern visa availability. Therefore, the monthly Visa Bulletin determines which applicants are eligible to file for adjustment of status and which applicants are eligible for a grant of permanent resident status. Applicants with a priority date earlier than the cut-off date published in the most current Visa Bulletin can apply for permanent residence.

That is why it can take over three years for a permanent resident spouse to receive their residency.  Currently, permanent resident spouses who applied on or before November 15, 2021, are receiving their residency.

An unmarried adult child (21 years of age or older) of a U.S. citizen who applied on or before July 8, 2015, is now receiving their appointments for interviews or being granted permanent residency.

For this reason, we always encourage clients to apply for their relatives the moment they are eligible to apply for them because the date of filing determines their priority date.

Usually, the cut-off dates on the Visa Bulletin move forward in time, but not always. Demand for visa numbers by applicants can fluctuate from one month to another, with an inevitable impact on cut-off dates. Such fluctuations can cause cut-off date movement to slow, stop, or even retrogress.

Visa retrogression occurs when more people apply for a visa in a particular category or country than there are visas available for that month. Retrogression typically occurs toward the end of the fiscal year as visa issuance approaches the annual category, or per-country limitations.

Sometimes, a priority date that meets the cut-off date one month will not meet the cut-off date the next month. When the new fiscal year begins on October 1, a new supply of visas is made available, and the dates are usually, but not always, returned to their previous state.

In 2023, we saw the largest retrogression in many years.  Many applicants who expected to receive their residency rather quickly are now having to wait years until they are approved.

You can check the Visa Bulletin monthly to see where you stand in this process.

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