A priority date is the date an alien initially expresses his or her intent to immigrate to the U.S. through an appropriate petition.

For employment-based petitions requiring approved PERM labor certification applications, the priority date is the date on which the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) receives ETA Form 9089. For employment-based petitions that do not require labor certification, including National Interest Waivers and EB-1s, the priority date is the date on which an immigrant petition is filed using Forms I-140, I-526, or I-360.

For family-based visas, the priority date is the date U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) receives the Form I-130 petition.


Priority dates are used to identify when an alien may apply for an adjustment of status using Form I-485, or for an immigrant visa through consular processing.

Each month, the U.S. State Department (DOS) publishes a visa bulletin that includes cut-off dates. If an immigrant petition has been approved and the priority date falls within the updated cut-off date in the appropriate visa category, then an alien may submit his or her I-485 application. For visa categories experiencing backlogs, including both the EB-2 and EB-3 categories, an earlier priority date amounts to earlier access to a visa when numbers become available.

In the PERM Context

If labor certification is required for an immigrant petition, as is the case for most EB-2 and all EB-3 applications, then the employer cannot file an I-140 until DOL approves its PERM application. Because of this, the priority date is the filing date of the PERM application with DOL. Alien workers are able to retain this priority date when their I-140 petitions are filed. However, the date can’t be used unless their petition is approved.

Overall, PERM labor certification is an extremely complicated and time-sensitive procedure. We recommend that you consult with an experienced immigration attorney. Over the years, Zhang & Associates has successfully handled hundreds of PERM cases. If you would like to contact us, we’re available by phone at (713) 771-8433, or you can visit us at one of our eight U.S. locations. We’re also conveniently available by e-mail at info@hooyou.com. Our attorneys will use their experience, expertise, and teamwork to ensure the highest quality of service for your PERM case.

For more detailed information on PERM labor certification, including minimum requirements and USCIS policies, refer to the following links:

Updated 04/14/2017