What is the Visa Bulletin?
The Visa Bulletin is published each month by the Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) and the US Department of State.
Each bulletin details how long immigrants can expected for a green card given the current time of processing applications. Each green card wait time is based on the number of applications as well as the number of green cards that are available.
The exact waiting time will depend on the nature of which visa etc. For instance, some categories do not have any quotas such as those applying as a spouse of a U.S citizen.
There are a large number of visas that do have quotas in place and if the number of visa applications exceed the number available then outstanding applicants will have to join a waitlist.
Understanding the Visa Bulletin
In order to find out how long you can expect to wait for a green card you need to understand the details given on the monthly current Visa Bulletin. Firstly, you will need to work out your family preference category – this is based on your relationship with the petitioner.
There are four basic preference categories on family-based green cards for foreign nationals- which are:
- F1: The first preference goes to unmarried adult children (over age 21) of U.S. citizens.
- F2: Second preference goes to spouses and unmarried children of green card holders (permanent residents). Within this category are two subcategories.
- F3: Third preference is for married children of U.S. citizens.
- F4: Fourth preference goes to siblings of U.S. citizens.
Each category has a different annual cap – meaning a limited number of green card applications can be granted each year.
For example, the F1 allocates 23,400 immigrant visas, while the F4 is capped at 65,000. In addition, the F2 category is further broken down into two sub categories – in the case of the F2A this gets the largest number of available visas and often many applicants are exempt from the cap.
In general, family-sponsored preference visas are limited to 226,000 visas per annum while employment-based preference visas are limited to 140,000 visas each year.
The annual quotas usually reset at the start of the fiscal year – October 1st.
Reading the Visa Bulletin
As well as knowing which category you are looking at, you need to ensure you know what your priority date is. Each applicant’s priority date is given when USCIS process their Form I-130. You will be able to find your priority date listed on the I-797 Notice of Action (I-130 Approval Notice) that was provided when the I-130 petition was approved. The priority date can be found at the top of this notice.
Once you know your priority date and your preference category then you can find out how the information on the Visa Bulletin applies to you by looking at the final action dates chart.
The bulletin is published each month by the U.S. State Department and be be viewed online. Make sure that you are viewing the latest Visa Bulleting and find your family preference category and compare your priority date to the current date listed.
A visa must be available before you can begin the process of becoming a lawful permanent resident. Looking at the visa bulletin will tell you when your priority date is earlier than the cut-off date shown for your preference category and country of chargeability areas.
For example, if the Visa Bulletin shows a date of 15th January 2009 for India in the family preference category (F1), this means visas are currently available for immigrants who have a priority date prior to this January 2009 date.
If the demand for immigrant visas is lower than the supply in a particular category and country of chargeability, the Visa Bulletin shows that category as C – this means there are immigrant visas immediately available to all qualifying and eligible applicants.
However, if the Visa Bulletin displays a U in a category on the filing chart, this means that immigrant visas are temporarily unavailable to all applicants in that particular preference category and/or country of chargeability – this can be due to excessive demand.
All of our lawyers are fully accredited with the appropriate legal bodies and you may be confident that the information we provide is fully accurate.
No matter how complex your case is, we can provide a tailored plan to help you achieve your goals. We work tirelessly on your behalf, attempting all legal options to assist you in immigrating to the U.S. with your loved ones and do our best to ensure that your petition is approved.
We recognize that immigration and visa applications are major decisions in a person’s life and that they can impact many lives.
That is why we provide the highest care and attention to all of our clients and ensure that they are given all their legal options so that they may make an informed decision about their future and the future of their families.
Your dedicated immigration lawyer will work with you throughout the entire process, communicating with you regularly to answer your questions and advise on the next steps.
At the beginning of the process, you can expect us to give you clear and accurate information about how much the process will cost and an anticipated timeline.
If you have any questions at any stage, our friendly and professional client care teams can work directly with you so that you feel confident in the process.
Call us on +1 844 290 6312 for a confidential discussion about how we can assist you with your immigration case. We look forward to assisting you over the phone or by online call.
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