USCIS Visa Bulletin – How to Apply for a Green Card

Today, we will be discussing about the global USCIS Visa Bulletin. Getting a Green Card is an important aspect on the journey of becoming a citizen in the United State. It is true that the period of waiting for the green card can be for years. So, to help track the application progress, the United States government have released Visa Bulletin blogs on monthly basis.

USCIS Visa Bulletin
USCIS Visa Bulletin

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The visa bulletin shows which green card application dates are current or moved up/down for filing the Green Card AOS (Adjustment of Status) application. Read this article to learn more about the visa bulletin and green card application process.

Visa Bulletin – What is a Visa Bulletin?

A visa bulletin is issued every month by the Department of States. This bulletin shows which green card applications have moved, depending on when the I-130 petition that starts the green card process was originally filed.

The visa bulletin also helps to estimate the period it will take before you can be able to get your green card. After your I-130 petition have been filed, you can then check the visa bulletin and watch your application move forward.

The green card is a federal green card and it is divided into complex categories containing a number of sub categories. Two major widespread groups are green cards based on family members (226K). This category contains marriage-based green cards, and employment-based green cards (140K).

US Visa Bulletin

The Department of United States issues a USCIS green card Visa Bulletin each month. This announcement lets you to know when to apply for your green card depending on when it was first filed. Note that parents, spouses, and unmarried children under the age of 18 are not required to read visa bulletins.

Why is Visa Bulletin Required Reading for Visa and Green Card Applicants?

Visa bulletin exists as a number of green cards issued are limited for each year. For example, about 140,000 employment-based green cards are issued yearly, but a country gap of 7% makes it a long period for applicants born in countries like India & China. With the Visa Bulletin, citizens of such countries can check changes in wait times. And also monitor the queue to when they can apply for the green card.

Visa Bulletin Terms

Below are the terms you will come across when reading a Visa Bulletin:

Priority Dates

Every person that files a petition with the USCIS gets a priority date when the government receives the petition. The priority date indicated the place in line for an immigrant visa.

Current

It refers to the fact that there is no backlog and no waiting time for a Green Card. You can say a current is when a priority date reaches front in line and the green card becomes available.

Chargeability Areas

This refers to the country of origin of the applicant for the green card.

Cut-off Dates

This are the dates that appear on the visa bulletin table. The date is the first in line for a green card. Applicants who have priority dates before the cut-off dates are eligible to submit their green card application. But applicants with priority dates after the cut-off dates are to continue to wait.

Final Action Dates

This chart shows which priority dates have moved to the front of the waiting line for green card application.

Dates for Filing

This chart shows which applicants living outside the US should submit their application to the National Visa Center (NVC) even when the green card isn’t ready.

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Family Preference Category

Your family preference category can be determined by the petitioner’s relationship with you. The various types of relationships are given different levels of priority during application for an immigrant visa.

The petitioner can either be a U.S. citizen or a permanent resident family member if an I-130 petition was filed on behalf of you. Caps on green cards issued to family members is divided into four “preference categories.” They include:

F1 (first preference):

These are unmarried adults (age 21 and up) who are children of United States citizens are given priority. The yearly limit for people on this category is 23,400 green cards.

F2 (second preference):

These are green card holders’ spouses and unmarried children. This category has an annual cap of 114,200 green cards. It is divided into 2 sub-categories:

F2A

The F2A are green card holders’ spouses and unmarried minor children which are under the age of 21. You should check on this category when checking the visa bulletin if you are a green card holder who has applied for a green card for your spouse. The F2A sub-category gets 77% of the second category quota or 87,934 green cards every year.

F2B

These are green card holders’ unmarried adult children at the age of 21 and older. This F2B sub-category gets 23% of the second category quota or 26,266 green cards every year.

F3 (third preference):

This category is for American citizens’ married children, regardless of their age. The yearly limit for this category is 23,400 green cards.

F4 (fourth preference):

People under this category are American citizens’ brothers and sisters. There is a yearly limit of 65,000 green cards for people under this category.

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How to Read a Visa Bulletin

Visit the US State Department’s monthly visa bulletin after you have gotten your priority date and preference category. Select “Current Visa Bulletin” from the menu. To see the table, go to “Family-Sponsored Preferences.”

You can compare your priority date to the date listed in your selected family preference category. If your priority date falls before the date listed in the table, then your immigrant visa is current.

The column labeled as “All Charge-ability Areas Except Those Listed” is noticeable to the majority of people. If your nationality is China, India, Mexico, or the Philippines, then you should use the appropriate column for those dates.

How to Apply for a Green Card – Green Card Application Guide

You can apply for a permanent residence green card in the US if your I-130 petition is now current. After it is current, you can then apply for your green card in one or two ways which include; consular processing or adjustment of status.

Consular Processing

If the applicant is currently outside the US, then this processing is the only option for immigrating.

Adjustment of Status

You can adjust your status if you are currently in the US. This term refers to a change in immigration status in the United States from being a temporary resident to a permanent resident (green card holder).

What is Visa Retrogression?

Visa bulletin cut off dates are usually moved forward after some time, taking green card applicants to the front of the line. When there are more green card applications that the State Department expected in a month, then the cut off dates for the next month may be pushed back. This is known as Visa Retrogression and it occurs more in September or end of a fiscal year.

Overall Limits for Employment-based Green Cards

Workers that are applying for a green card according to priority and the following limit levels (mostly %levels):

EB-1 (Priority Workers)

This is 28.6% of the global employment-based preference level. And also, any numbers not required for the fourth and fifth preferences.

EB-2 (Members of Professions with Advanced Degrees or Persons of Exceptional Ability)

This is 28.6% of the global employment-based preference level, and any numbers not required by first preference.

EB-3 (Skilled Workers, Professionals, and Other Workers)

This is 28.6% of the global workforce, and any numbers that is not required by the first and second preferences.

EB-4 (Special Immigrants)

This account for 7.1% of all immigrants globally.

EB-5 (Job Creation)

This is 7.1% of global employment, with at least 3,000 reserved for investors in a specific rural or high-unemployment area. And also 3,000 set aside for investors in regional centers under the Sec. 610 of Pub. L. 102-395.

When is the US Visa Bulletin Released Every Month?

The USCIS Visa Bulletin is mostly released in 2-3 weeks early. For example, you may get to see the August 2022 Visa Bulletin released during the 2nd week of July.

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