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Understanding the Visa Bulletin

One of the questions we hear most often at ilexlaw, PLLC is what “wait time” our clients have to obtain an immigrant visa. For both employment based and family based immigrant categories, most clients are subject to numerical limits set forth by statute before being eligible for a visa. These limits are tracked each month in the Department of State’s Visa Bulletin.
The first step to reviewing the visa bulletin is for a prospective immigrant to find his or her priority date. For all family based applicants, the priority date is the date in which USCIS receives the I-130. For employment based applicants whose cases require labor certification (PERM) the priority date is the date in which the Department of Labor receives labor certification application. For self-petitioning employment based application, the priority date is the day that USCIS receives Form I-140. This date can usually be found on Form I-797 sent by USCIS upon receipt.
The next step is to wait for the priority date to become current, assuming that the underlying petition is approved. Current wait times range from 0 months to 23 years.
As detailed below, each months the Department of State issues a bulletin that demonstrates what dates are available, aka being “current.” To see if your date is current, you can review the bulletin to check if your filing date or later is listed. For example, if your relative filed an F1 preference family based petition on December 14, 2007 and you are a citizen of China and you are now eligible to apply for your Green Card.

Family Based – September 2015

Family-Sponsored All Chargeability Areas Except Those Listed CHINA-mainland born INDIA MEXICO PHILIPPINES
F1 15DEC07 15DEC07 15DEC07 15NOV94 22OCT00
F2A 01MAR14 01MAR14 01MAR14 01FEB14 01MAR14
F2B 22DEC08 22DEC08 22DEC08 15JUL95 08SEP04
F3 08MAY04 08MAY04 08MAY04 22MAY94 15SEP93
F4 15JAN03 15JAN03 15JAN03 15MAR97 01MAR92

NOTE: Immediate relatives of U.S. Citizens are not listed as they are not subject to any caps or wait times. Immediate relatives include spouses, parents (of citizens over 21) and unmarried children under the age of 21.

The preference categories are as follows:
First: (F1) Unmarried Sons and Daughters of U.S. Citizens (over age 21).
Second: Spouses and Children, and Unmarried Sons and Daughters of Permanent Residents.
(F2A) Spouses and Children of Permanent Residents.
(F2B) Unmarried Sons and Daughters (21 years of age or older) of Permanent Residents.
Third: (F3) Married Sons and Daughters of U.S. Citizens.
Fourth: (F4) Brothers and Sisters of Adult U.S. Citizens.

Employment Based – September 20155th-
(C5 and T5)C22SEP13CCC5th-
(I5 and R5)C22SEP13CCC

Employment- Based All Chargeability Areas Except Those Listed CHINA – mainland born INDIA MEXICO PHILIPPINES
1st C C C C C
2nd C 01JAN06 01JAN06 C C
3rd 15AUG15 22DEC04 22DEC04 15AUG15 22DEC04
Other Workers 15AUG15 01JAN04 22DEC04 15AUG15 22DEC04
4th C C C C C
Certain Religious Workers C C C C C

Note: C means that the priority date is current and there is no wait time.
First: Priority Workers, including EB-1A and EB-1B.
Second: Members of the Professions Holding Advanced Degrees or Persons of Exceptional Ability, including National Interest Waivers.
Third: Skilled Workers, Professionals, and Other Workers.
Fourth: Certain Special Immigrants including religious workers.
Fifth: Employment Creation (EB-5 Visas)
These numbers represent most cases for family and employment based applicants, though certain exceptions and special procedures exist.
At ilexlaw, PLLC we work with client everyday to understand and work with priority dates. If you or your employee or relative are interested in filing for a Green Card or already have a case in progress, please contact the experienced immigration attorneys at ilexlaw, PLLC today for your free consultation.

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