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"Most prospective immigrant visa applicants qualify for status under the law on the basis offamily relationships or employer sponsorship. Entitlement to visa processing in these classes isestablished ordinarily through approval by Citizenship and Immigration Services (CIS) of apetition filed on the applicant's behalf. The petitions of applicants who will be processed at anoverseas post are forwarded by CIS to the Department of State; applicants in categories subjectto numerical limit are registered on the visa waiting list. Each case is assigned a priority (i.e.,registration) date based on the filing date accorded to the petition. Visa issuance within eachnumerically limited category is possible only if the applicant's priority date is within theapplicable cut-off dates which are published each month by the Department of State in the VisaBulletin. Family and Employment preference applicants compete for visa numbers within theirrespective categories on a worldwide basis according to priority date; a per-country limit on suchpreference immigrants set by INA 202 places a maximum on the amount of visas which may beissued in a single year to applicants from any one country, however.
In October, the Department of State asked the National Visa Center (NVC) at Portsmouth, NewHampshire to report the totals of applicants on the waiting list in the various numerically-limitedimmigrant categories. Applications for adjustment of status under INA 245 which are pending atCIS Offices are not included in the tabulation of the immigrant waiting list data which is beingprovided at this time. As such, the following figures ONLY reflect petitions which theDepartment of State has received, and do not include the significant number of applications heldwith the CIS Offices.
The following figures have been compiled from the NVC report submitted to the Department onNovember 1, 2011, and show the number of immigrant visa applicants on the waiting list in thevarious preferences and subcategories subject to numerical limit. All figures reflect personsregistered under each respective numerical limitation, i.e., the totals represent not only principalapplicants or petition beneficiaries, but their spouses and children entitled to derivative statusunder INA 203(d) as well." - Department of State, Dec. 2011.