How to Read the Visa Bulletin
How to Read the Visa Bulletin
So many of our clients are subject to significant wait times, despite qualifying for a green card. Whether you have a familial sponsorship by a sibling or parent, or an employment sponsorship that has a long wait, the US Department of State’s visa bulletin is a document that outlines when you can expect to be in a position to submit your green card application.
What is the Visa Bulletin?
The Visa Bulletin is a monthly report issued by the US Department of State that indicates when green cards controlled by statutory limitations will be available for issuance to prospective immigrants. The Visa Bulletin can be found here, and often both the current month’s and the upcoming month’s versions will be available.
Below is the chart outlining the final action dates for employment-based preference cases. (Please click on the image to access the Visa Bulletin from July 2016.)
Reading the Visa Bulletin and Determining Your Priority Date
In reading this chart, ‘C’ means that application is current. When an application is current, those approved with a first-preference employment application (such as an EB1) can immediately apply for a green card.
When a date is listed, such as in the 2nd priority application for natives from China, it means that the green cards are not readily available because the quota for that country has been exhausted. So, someone who has applied for an EB2 application, for example, who was born in mainland China will be issued with a priority date. The priority date is noted on the receipt notice and will be the same day that your application was received by US Immigration. So if you filed an EB2 I-140 form, and USCIS issued a notice stating they receiving it on January 1, 2016, then you priority date is January 1, 2016.
Now that we have our priority date of January 1, 2016, we want to see when our EB2 applicant from China may be eligible to apply for a green card. According to our Visa Bulletin chart, USCIS is currently issuing green cards to applicants who have a priority date of January 1, 2010. This shows us that our client will need to wait about 6 years before they are eligible to apply for a green card.
While the Visa Bulletin is a great tool for estimating the wait time before a priority date comes current, it is not a hard deadline. Rather, the Visa Bulletin is issued each month in an effort to keep individuals as updated as possible, and it is important to track the Visa Bulletin to determine how best to anticipate when your priority date will come current.
Recent Changes to the Visa Bulletin
The Visa Bulletin for August 2016 is now in effect, with one significant change – individuals born in China and India will now be issued visa priority dates upon approval of EB1 extraordinary ability applications.
This has only happened twice before in the history of the EB1 program, and fortunately, both those situations ended up being only temporary setbacks, reverting to current soon after.
According to the August Visa Bulletin, those individuals born in China and India will both have priority dates of January 1, 2010, which means that applications approved on August 1, 2016, will have an anticipated wait time of more than 6 years. However, in this case, the Department of State has indicated that the visa priority date was put in place in an attempt to hold the number of green cards issued to these two countries at the annual limit.
With that in mind, US Immigration operates on a fiscal year that runs from October 1 – September 30. At the start of the new fiscal year (October 1, 2016), the visa priority dates for all countries will become current, resulting in only a short delay for a handful of applicants.
The Visa Bulletin can be a tricky document, but we are certainly here to help. It is important to speak with experts to determine what to anticipate from US Immigration. Please call us today so we can help you determine the best option!
US Immigration Law Offices of Chris M. Ingram
Chris M. Ingram LL.M., ESQ – Immigration Attorney
Admitted in New York.
Practice Specializing in US Immigration Law
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Tel: 310 496 4292
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Specializing in the E2 Visa, EB1 Green Card, L-1A Visa and O1 Visa and K1 Visa Marriage-Based Immigration. Attorney Chris M. Ingram is dedicated to providing the very best in US Immigration legal representation. Enjoy our website.
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