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Visa Bulletin - Everything U.S. Visa Applicants Need to Know

What is the Visa Bulletin?

Only a certain number of visas are issued worldwide per year for individuals wishing to permanently enter the U.S. This includes immigrant visas, but also individuals applying to adjust their status to that of a legal permanent resident from within the U.S. (green card applications). If you are subject to the visa quotas, you must find your priority date on your Form I-130, most commonly, and track its progress on the Visa Bulletin each month to see when your visa will be available.

Can I predict when my priority date will come?

Priority dates are affected by a lot of factors. First, the quota can change year to year as allowed by law. Also, there are some countries that face much longer wait times and visa shortages than others. Each category on the visa bulletin has different paces of movement. There are family based categories for family members of legal permanent residents and U.S. citizens. There are employment based categories depending on qualifications and highly skilled worker classifications.

Immediate relatives are not subject to a quota in the Visa Bulletin and there is always a visa number immediately available. Immediate relatives are spouses and parents of U.S. citizens.

What is the best way to follow my immigration case progress?

The Visa Bulletin is issued each month by the Department of State. You can sign up for their monthly mailing list, or send your priority date and petition receipt information to our office for personalized tracking. Be careful – sometimes retrogression and changes in filing procedures can greatly change your filing dates.

What happens when my priority date is current in the Visa Bulletin?

When your priority date becomes current in that present month's Visa Bulletin, you are then eligible for either adjustment of status or to pursue your immigrant visa abroad. If you are filing for adjustment from within the U.S., then you should immediately contact an attorney to prepare your Form I-485 and corresponding evidence. If you are filing for an immigrant visa at a consulate abroad, your case information will be sent to the National Visa Center (NVC) to begin the document phase of the immigrant visa. It is very important that you initiate contact and continue contact with the NVC within one year of your priority date becoming current to ensure that you do not lose your visa. It is very hard to revive a potentially abandoned visa.

When can I file for adjustment of status?

There are two categories on the Visa Bulletin – Application Final Action Dates and Dates for Filing Applications. These can be confusing to a lot of individuals, and their treatment varies month to month by USCIS. In short, your application can sometimes be filed with USCIS as of the “Dates for Filing Applications” column, but can never be approved until after the “Application Final Action Dates” column. However, USCIS decides each month if they will acknowledge applications filed early, and makes a determination based upon how many applications are received and backlogged. An immigration attorney can tell you whether you are eligible to file early or if you must wait until the final action date to submit your Form I-485.

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