This is how I explained the US Green Card Priority Date concept to my 7-year-old, and she cried inconsolably.

Written on 06/14/2024
Asia91 Team


Arjun, who lives with his parents in an apartment in the Valley Ranch area of Irving, Texas, is known for his curiosity and bright smile. One evening, playing with his toys, he overheard his parents discussing a 'Priority Date' and 'Country Quota' for a U.S. Green Card.

Intrigued, Arjun approached his parents and asked, "What are you talking about?"

His father, Mr. Kumar, looked at Arjun and decided to explain it in a way that would be easy for him to understand. "Well, Arjun," he began, 

"Imagine we're planning a visit to a very special place called 'Americaland,' a land full of dreams, adventures, and opportunities. To go there, we need a special ticket, similar to a U.S. Green Card."

Arjun, his interest piqued, sat down next to his father. "How do we get this special ticket, Papa?"

"You see, every family who wants to go to Americaland is given a number, kind of check-in token number for our turn," Mr. Kumar explained. "This number is called the 'Priority Date.' The smaller your number, the sooner you can go to Americaland. 

Families who got their token a long time ago have smaller numbers, which means they get to go earlier." Arjun thought momentarily and then asked, "But why do some people have smaller numbers but still need to wait longer, Papa?"

"That's because of the 'Country Quota,'" his father replied. "Americaland only lets a certain number of families from each place visit every year. 

Since many families in our area, and from places like India, want to go, the wait is longer. But families from places with fewer people going to Americaland get their turn faster."

Arjun's face showed a mix of understanding and concern. Some of our friends might have to wait a long time.

"Yes, Arjun," his father nodded. "Many people we know have been holding their token for years, waiting for their turn to visit Americaland. They are patient and keep hoping their number will come up soon."

"That's kind of sad," Arjun said softly. "I wish everyone could go whenever they wanted."

"It is tough, but it's important to be patient and kind to those who are waiting," his father added, ruffling Arjun's hair. 


As they talked, Priya, Arjun's younger sister in the first grade, bounced into the room with her favorite teddy bear in hand.

"What are you talking about?" Priya asked with wide, inquisitive eyes.

"We were just discussing how families get to go to a special place called 'Americaland,' much like a magical theme park," Mr. Kumar smiled, realizing he needed to simplify the story even further for little Priya.

"Let me tell you a story that might help explain it," he said, beckoning Priya to join them on the couch.

"Imagine your school is having a huge cake party where everyone wants a slice of the most delicious cake. But there's a rule about when to get your cake, based on a special number. 

Think of it as similar to the token number we get at the doctor's office. This number is called the 'Priority Date.' The smaller your number, the sooner you get your slice of cake. Families who have been waiting a long time have smaller numbers."

Priya, listening intently, nodded her head. "So, it's like when I wait for my turn to play on the swing at school?"

"Exactly," Mr. Kumar replied. "Now, there's another part of the story. Imagine that each classroom in our school can only send a few students at a time to get cake. Classrooms with fewer students, like Mrs. Smith's first-grade class, get their turn faster. But larger classrooms, like Mr. Lee's fifth-grade class, have to wait longer because there are more students. This is like the 'Country Quota.' 

Our area, and places like India, have many families waiting to go to Americaland, so our wait is longer."

Arjun, understanding the situation better now, added, "So, some of our friends might have to wait a really long time to go to Americaland?"

"Yes, that's right," Mr. Kumar agreed. "They have been holding onto their token, waiting patiently for their turn."

Priya looked thoughtful. "I wish everyone could get their cake at the same time." and while saying this she cried inconsolably.

"That's a very kind wish, Priya," her father said warmly. "It's important to be patient and kind to those waiting, just like we are when we wait for our turn at the doctor's or in the playground."

That night, as Arjun and Priya lay in their beds, they thought about the families waiting for their turn to visit Americaland and how it was similar to waiting for their favorite cake at school or their turn on the playground. They both fell asleep with a deeper understanding of the world and the importance of patience and empathy in life's long queues.

May God bless all those who have sacrificed a lot to get into this decade-long Green Card line for the better future of the next generations!