The Department of State has released the April visa bulletin, which indicates whether green cards have become available for certain petitioners.
If you have petitioned for a green card, your wait time will depend on your country of origin and whether your intended green card is family-based or employment-based. Every month, the Department of State issues a visa bulletin that tells petitioners when they can move forward with their adjustment of status applications.
The visa bulletin is necessary because of the severe backlog of green card applications. Congress caps the number of green cards that can be issued each year at 366,000, and, because the number of people who apply consistently exceeds this number, some applicants have been waiting over two decades for their green cards.
Congress also limits the annual number of green cards available for each country of origin. No single country can account for more than 7% of the total green cards in a certain category. For countries like China, India, Mexico, and the Philippines, this cap results in serious backlogs. Countries in Europe and Africa, on the other hand, rarely hit the 7% cap.
How Does the Visa Bulletin Work?
The visa bulletin is organized by type of visa and country of origin (“chargeability area” on the visa bulletin). The dates tell a person who filed an I-130 petition whether they can move forward with their application and obtain a green card. Specifically, anyone whose priority date (i.e. when USCIS received your petition) is before the date listed in the bulletin can apply for adjustment of status.
In other words, a petitioner cannot move forward with their green card application until the date on the visa bulletin moves beyond their priority date. For example, the F1 visa filing date for a person from China is currently September 1, 2014. Therefore, all those whose family members or employers filed their petitions before September 1, 2014 can move forward with their application. Others will need to wait until USCIS pushes the date forward in a future bulletin.
If the visa type and country of origin say “C” instead of a date, this stands for “current.” A “C” indication means there is no backlog, and a petitioner can apply for a green card right away.
Here are a few other things to know about the visa bulletin:
- If you are the spouse, parent, or unmarried child (under 21) of a U.S. citizen, you won’t have a wait time. Therefore, the visa bulletin will not be relevant to you.
- If you are the spouse or unmarried child (under 21) of a U.S. permanent resident (green card holder), you will likely need to wait 12-18 months for an available green card.
- All other petitioners will likely wait from years to decades for green cards.
Beasley Law Firm Can Help You Interpret the Visa Bulletin and Plan Accordingly
The green card acquisition process is complex, time-consuming, and often unpredictable. At Beasley Law Firm, we have assisted countless immigrants through this process, and we want you to benefit from our extensive knowledge and years of experience. No matter what stage of the process you currently face, we can step in and ensure you have the best fighting chance at a permanent future in the United States.
We also understand the stress you may be experiencing as a result of COVID-19. USCIS has canceled all in-person services until at least April 7th, and this may substantially increase wait times in the near future. We can help you navigate this uncertainty and overcome the barriers between you and your immigration goals.