The Visa Bulletin is a monthly publication put out by the Bureau of Consular Affairs, that is a part of the United States Department of State. The main purpose of this bulletin is to provide an updated waiting list (also known as Priority Date) for immigrants that are subject to the quota system. Immigrants to the United States are essentially classified under two categories: 1. those that need a waiting list, such as those seeking admission as a relative of a permanent resident; and 2. those who do not require placement on a waiting list, such as the husband or wife of a United States citizen. For those visas that require a waiting list, a certain number of visas become available on annual basis. For example, there are about 23,000 visas available for married sons and daughters of United States citizens. If the number of applicants in a year is over the available visa numbers, those applicants are placed in a queue and are given a priority date, which basically estimates when an applicant would get a visa based on the number of previous applicants in the queue.
The United States Department of State is responsible for determining the movement of immigrant visa cut-off dates each month and for releasing the monthly Visa Bulletin. In particular, Charles Oppenheim, Chief of the Visa Control and Reporting Division of the Department of State, discusses the contents of the latest visa bulletin and offers predictions for future visa bulletin developments. Below is a summary of the April 2015 Visa Bulletin Update:
- The employment-based second preference (EB-2) cut-off date for India advanced from January 1, 2007 to September 1, 2007, with predicted advancements in the foreseeable future.
- EB-2 China has advanced to April 1, 2011 and will continue to advance three to six weeks each month.
- The employment-based third preference (EB-3) for “All Chargeability Areas” and Mexico and the Philippines advanced to October 1, 2014.
- EB-3 China retrogressed from October 22, 2011 to January 1, 2011 due to increased demand.
- EB-3 India is at January 8, 2004 with little expected forward movement.
- EB-5 remains current but the expected increase in Mainland China-born demand may require the establishment of a cut-off date no later than June.
- The cut-off date in the family-based second preference (F2A) has advanced to August 1, 2013 for all countries other than Mexico, which advanced to July 8, 2013.
- Continued advancement of three to four weeks per month is expected for the F2A category.
- The other family-based preference categories are expected to continue moving forward slowing, including a projected one to three weeks for the F1 category, three to six weeks for the F2B category, one to three weeks for the F3, and two to four weeks for the F4.
Our staff at the Shulman Law Group, LLC is on the pulse of the latest visa bulletin developments. We keep all of our clients abreast of cut-off and priority dates so that they can avail themselves of immigrant visas and adjust their status in the United States in the most expedient way. When explaining the concept of priority dates to our clients, we often adopt the analogy of being a patron in a bakery. Upon arrival in the bakery, an individual will customarily take a number and wait until his or her number is called in order to proceed. If, for example, they take the number 25 and the baker is working on the number 4, then they will have a long wait-time until their number is called. In the same way, the Priority Date is the date when a principal applicant first reveals his or her intent of immigration to the US government. which is essentially established when USCIS receives the immigration petition. The date establishes one’s place in the queue for a family-sponsored or employment-based green card application. We welcome individuals with questions about Priority Dates to schedule a consultation appointment with our immigration law office to discuss the inner-workings of visa availability.