A Comprehensive Guide To Visa Retrogression

Navigate the complexities of visa retrogression and learn how Tadeo & Silva Law can guide you through immigration delays and processes for a smoother journey to the U.S.

Author: Massiel Silva Tadeo, Founder, Tadeo & Silva

Attorney Massiel Silva Tadeo is a partner and owner at The Tadeo & Silva Law Firm. She specializes in removal (deportation) defense, family immigration, and hardship waivers. Published on: January 17, 2024.

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What You Need to Know About Retrogression

Visa retrogression occurs when the visa demand in a category supersedes the available supply. Congress limits the number of immigrant visas issued yearly, and the US Department of State releases the visa bulletin monthly to report visa-eligibility cut-off dates.

Applicants can use the visa bulletin to determine when they can proceed with their visa application. It helps to seek legal assistance from experienced immigration lawyers when making any visa application.

Comprehending why a visa retrogression has happened in your case could be challenging. Tadeo & Silva Law can help you navigate this. We can help you with progress checks and tracking your case, no matter your green card or visa category. Continue reading as we explore the causes, impacts, and how to navigate visa retrogression.

What is Visa Retrogression?


Sometimes, immigrant visa applicants for a particular category or country exceed available visas. When available visas run out before all eligible applicants with “current priority dates” can be processed, visa retrogression occurs. Essentially, the category “regresses” or moves backward in time.

The USCIS publishes monthly visa bulletins to provide information on visa availability and retrogression. It uses “priority dates” to determine visa eligibility. An applicant’s priority date is the day they filed their immigrant petition with the USCIS. Priority dates determine applicants’ place in line for visa processing. Those with a priority date earlier than or equal to the listed cut-off date in their category and country can proceed with their visa application. Otherwise, they must wait until it becomes current.

When visa retrogression occurs, the priority date for a category or country goes back in time. So, applicants with priority dates that meet one month’s cut-off date may find that they do not meet the following month’s cut-off date because it has been changed to a date earlier than their priority date. They typically have to wait longer for their visa applications to be processed. Visa availability can change each month based on demand and government limits. The bulletin is updated monthly; hence, you need to monitor it for changes if you have a pending green card application.


Causes of Visa Retrogression

The following are some of the factors leading to visa retrogression:

  • Country-specific limits. The Immigration and Nationality Act imposes the number of visas issued per country. If there is a high demand for your immigrant visa category by applicants from your particular country, you may face visa retrogression.
  • Visa quotas. The US government limits the number of overall immigrant visas issued yearly. The demand may exceed the limit, thus resulting in retrogression.
  • Visa category demand. Green card categories experiencing higher demand are usually subject to retrogression. Visa retrogression is most commonly associated with employment-based categories like the Employment-Based Third Preference (EB-3) category.
  • Legislative changes. Alterations in immigration laws or policies can contribute to visa retrogression. For instance, modification of visa eligibility criteria can lead to backlog and retrogression.


Impact of Visa Retrogression on Immigration

Retrogression impacts various green card categories, like diversity visas and employment-based immigrant visas. Some of the most significant impacts visa retrogression has on visa applicants include:

  • Delays in visa processing. Visa retrogression results in longer waiting times. Applicants who have already filed petitions experience delays in visa processing. 
  • Uncertainty and disruption of plans. Visa retrogression disrupts applicants’ plans for immigration to the United States. Visa issuance becomes uncertain, affecting US employment and other life plans.
  • Financial implications. Visa applicants may need to hire legal representation to navigate the immigration process if they are experiencing visa retrogression.
  • Loss of job opportunities. Retrogression on employment-based visas can result in missed job opportunities. Applicants may be unable to start working in the US as planned, leading to career setbacks.
  • Extended separation from family. Retrogression on family-based visas delays applicants’ union with their families in the US.

Navigating the Visa Retrogression Process

Procedures involved in the visa retrogression process can be complex. Here are helpful tips and strategies you can consider upon visa retrogression:

  • Stay informed. You need to stay informed about any changes in visa availability and retrogression. Monitor the monthly updates and take proper action when the opportunity arises.

  • Consult an immigration attorney. It’s crucial to seek advice from an experienced immigration attorney. They play a significant role in guiding applicants through the retrogression process.

  • Explore alternative visa options. You can explore alternative visa options if your visa category retrogresses.

  • Maintain communication with the USCIS. Endeavor to keep your contact information up to date with the USCIS. Promptly respond to requests for additional information to ensure your application remains active.

Staying Informed and Prepared Via Monitoring Visa Bulletins

The Department of State determines visa availability based on its monthly visa bulletin. The visa bulletin provides information on when immigrant visas (green cards) are available for different visa categories and countries.

You need to stay informed about your USCIS priority date so that you can complete your visa application as soon as possible. If you find the bulletin hard to understand or are unable to constantly monitor it, our immigration attorneys can help you monitor it. And if you are facing visa retrogression due to higher visa demand than availability, our attorneys can advise you on possible solutions or alternative paths to explore.

Role of Immigration Lawyers

Immigration attorneys who are familiar with the visa application process can help navigate the complexities of visa retrogression. Our immigration lawyers at Tadeo & Silva Law can assist you in several ways, including:

  • Assessing your eligibility for different visa categories. We can help determine an alternative application route based on your situation.
  • Helping to monitor visa bulletin updates. We can keep track of visa availability changes for your consular processing or adjustment of status.
  • Preparing and filing visa petitions. We can help you submit the necessary forms and supporting documents for your applications on time.
  • Helping you to develop a comprehensive immigration plan to navigate complexities that come up along the way
  • Acting as your advocates. We communicate with USCIS and the Department of State on our client’s behalf. If you have any concerns or queries, we can get some information and reassurance for you.

Tadeo & Silva Law: Your Partner in Immigration Challenges

Visa applicants often face many complexities when navigating the immigration process. Do you need help securing a visa or resolving immigration issues? If so, immigration attorneys at Tadeo & Silva Law can provide you with professional advice and assistance on visa retrogression. Our lawyers have successfully helped numerous clients resolve their immigration issues.

We are dedicated to maximizing your chances of visa approval. So, contact our office now for your first consultation.

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