This post is part of a series about what to do while your Priority Date is retrogressed, once you have received your I-140 Approval Notice from USCIS. It applies to cases which will be processed through US Consulates, and not to Applications to Adjust Status filed in the US.
We’ve received several inquiries from people who would like to know if they can visit the US while their priority date is retrogressed or if their family members who are dependent immigrant visa recipients that have been caught in retrogression and cannot currently come to the US are able to visit them on visitor visas.
Technically the answer is that having a retrogressed priority date is not an automatic bar to being able to use a visitor visa to travel to the US; however, one of the requirements for a visitor visa is that you not have the intent to remain permanently in the US after traveling to the US for a visit.
Even though you have a retrogressed priority date, you need to be aware that it’s entirely possible that if you apply for a visitor visa at the US Consulate, they may refuse to give one to you because you have an immigrant petition, even though your priority date isn’t currently valid and you cannot use it.
Also, if you already have a visitor visa, you are free to travel to the US and attempt to enter on that visa, but you need to be aware that there is at least some risk that the officer at the border will not let you enter on the grounds that you have an approved immigrant petition, even though the cut-off date for that petition might be retrogressed and you could not currently take any action on it while in the US.
At the end of the day, there’s no ban on traveling to the US on a visitor visa while you have an approved immigrant petition; however, you have to be aware that this will be very closely scrutinized and there is a distinct possibility you or your family members may possibly be refused.