The pool of people who are eligible to immigrate to the United States as LPRs each year typically exceeds the worldwide level set by U.S. immigration law.
At the end of each fiscal year, the Department of State publishes a tabulation of approved visa petitions pending with the National Visa Center.23 These data do not constitute a backlog of petitions to be processed; rather, these data represent persons who have been approved for visas that are not yet available due to the numerical limits in the INA. The National Visa Center caseload is the data that drive the priority dates published in the Visa Bulletin each month.
U.S. Department of State, Annual Report of Immigrant Visa Applicants in the Family-Sponsored and EmploymentBased Preferences Registered at the National Visa Center as of November 1, 2011; available at the Department of State website:
For further specifications of the data that DOS factors into the visa priority dates, see U.S. Department of State, Visa Office, Annual Numerical Limits for Fiscal Year