How to Read US Visa Bulletin Updates

By Sierra January 11, 2021 3 min. read
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When it comes to immigration in the United States, the number of individuals interested in migrating is rapidly exceeding the number of immigrant visas available. Due to first come first serve, each applicant has a specific priority date and category which puts you on a virtual waiting list. While waiting, you will want to keep up with the monthly date updates and that’s through the US Visa Bulletin. The US Bulletin breaks down important information about family preference, employment-based, and diversity immigrant visa applications. Let us help you understand it!

Within the US Visa Bulletin, you with find multiple charts indicating filing dates and final action dates along other important information.

Family Preference

Once you’ve finished and submitted your Form I-130 within your family preference application process, your place on the waitlist is designated with a priority date. On the US Visa Bulletin, you will simply find your family preference category and compare your priority date to the date listed. If your priority date comes before the date listed, your immigrant visa is current. Most people can view the column labeled “All Chargeability Areas Except Those Listed.” But if your country of nationality is China, India, Mexico, or the Philippines, use the respective column for those dates. Family Preference categories include:

First preference (F1 Visa): unmarried sons and daughters of US citizens (21 years of age and older)

Second preference (F2A Visa): spouses and their children of lawful permanent residents (unmarried and under 21 years of age)

Second preference (F2B Visa): unmarried sons and daughters of lawful permanent residents (21 years of age and older)

Third preference (F3 Visa): married sons and daughters of (US citizens)

Fourth preference (F4 Visa): brothers and sisters of US citizens (if the US citizen is 21 years of age and older)

Final Action Dates

Charts will first indicate “final action dates” according to your category. Be sure to pay attention to if a priority date comes before the date listed in this chart as a visa number is available!

Dates For Filing

The second chart indicates when the intending immigrant can apply for an immigrant visa. Specifically, the applicant may file an adjustment of status application provided that the applicant’s priority date is before the date listed in the visa bulletin’s filing dates chart. If the intending immigrant will be applying through the consular process, the National Visa Center uses this chart to start the process. (They will notify the intending immigrant when to submit an application for an immigrant visa.)

Employment-Based Preference

Many applicants will seek a green card through employment-based petitions. This is when you have a US employer who is willing to petition you for US permanent residency. Employment-based petition categories include:

EB-1: Priority Workers

EB-2: Professionals and Persons of Exceptional Ability

EB-3: Skilled and Unskilled Workers and Professionals

EB-4: Certain Special Immigrants

EB-5: Immigrant Investors

Final Action Dates

Charts will first indicate “final action dates” according to your category. “C” means current (numbers are authorized for issuance to all qualified applicants) and “U” means unauthorized (numbers are not authorized for issuance)

Dates For Filing

This chart reflects dates for filing visa applications within a timeframe justifying immediate action in the application process. Applicants for immigrant visas who have a priority date earlier than the application date in the chart may assemble and submit required documents to the Department of State’s National Visa Center, following receipt of notification from the National Visa Center containing detailed instructions.

The “C” listing indicates that the category is current, and that applications may be filed regardless of the applicant’s priority date.

Diversity Immigrant Visas

The Diversity Immigrant Visa Program, commonly known as the Green Card Lottery, offers up to 55,000 available immigrant visas each year. The lottery randomly selects eligible applicants from countries with low rates of immigration to the United States. The Diversity Immigrant Visa chart will list the rank cut-offs by each country for the current month and the month following!

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