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The Visa Bulletin: What’s New for August 2017?

Jul 28, 2017

The U.S. Department of State recently released its Visa Bulletin for August 2017. That’s a big deal if you’re waiting for your priority date to be current so that your green card application can move forward.

If you don’t know what a “visa bulletin” or a “priority date” is, never fear — you’re a normal human being and we’ve got you covered. This post focuses on the “final action dates” charts in the visa bulletin, as those dates are most relevant to when applicants will ultimately receive their green card.

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First, check out the Boundless guide on How to Read the Visa Bulletin. Then read on for the latest news…

The Bottom Line

The August 2017 Visa Bulletin doesn’t show very much movement in wait times for the family-based (“F”) green card categories. This month, the action is in the employment-based (“EB”) green card categories, including some good news for green card seekers from the Philippines and some bad news for everyone else.

Map of the Philippines

Family-Based Green Card Backlogs

F-1: unmarried adults (age 21 and older) who are children of U.S. citizens

  • No change in cut-off dates for the general category, China, and India (still December 22, 2010).
  • Two-week advance for Mexico (now February 1, 1996)
  • One-month advance for the Philippines (now October 15, 2006)

F-2A: spouses and unmarried children (under age 21) of U.S. green card holders

These lines would be moving faster, but we’re getting close to September (the end of the government’s fiscal year), when the State Department gets cautious about hitting the annual green card caps. Look for better news in October!

  • Two-week advance in cut-off date for the general category, China, India, and the Philippines (now September 22, 2015)
  • One-week advance for Mexico (now September 1, 2015)

F-2B: unmarried children (age 21 and older) of U.S. green card holders

  • No change in the cut-off dates for the general category, China, and India (still November 1, 2010)
  • One-month advance for Mexico (now July 1, 1996)
  • Five-week advance for the Philippines (now December 8, 2006)

F-3: married children of U.S. citizens

  • No change in the cut-off dates for the general category, China, and India (still July 8, 2005)
    Two-week advance for Mexico (now April 8, 1995)
    Five-week advance for the Philippines (now January 22, 1995)

F-4: siblings of U.S. citizens

A significant increase in green card demand has frozen any movement for the general category and China. If demand continues at this level, we’re likely to see a future retrogression (in other words, backwards movement) for people waiting in these two lines.

  • No change in cut-off dates for the general category and China (still May 8, 2004)
  • No change for India (still September 22, 2003)
  • Six-week advance for Mexico (now September 15, 1997)
  • Seven-week advance for the Philippines (now April 8, 1994)

Employment-Based Green Card Backlogs

EB-1: extraordinary people, outstanding researchers and professors, and multinational executives and managers

  • The visa bulletin remains current for the general category, Central America (El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras), Mexico, and the Philippines. That means no wait time. Come and get your green cards!
  • No change in cut-off dates for China and India (still January 1, 2012)

EB-2: exceptional people and advanced degree holders

  • A cut-off date has been imposed for the general category, Central America, Mexico, and the Philippines (was current, but now April 1, 2015). Apparently this is the result of a recent surge in green card applicants in these categories from within the United States. But the good news is that the wait time is expected to disappear again in October 2017 (happy fiscal new year)!
  • One-month advance for China (now April 22, 2013). We may see an additional advance in October.
  • No change for India (still July 22, 2008). This lack of movement is due to heavy demand from applicants in the EB-3 category who want to upgrade to the EB-2 category. If demand continues to increase, we may continue to see no movement, or even backwards movement (the dreaded retrogression).

EB-3: bachelor’s degree holders, skilled workers, and unskilled workers

The Department of State expects that demand in the EB-3 general category will increase next fiscal year. Applicants are advised to respond immediately to any USCIS requests for evidence (RFEs) to facilitate a speedy adjudication, and obtain an immigrant visa number during the current fiscal year.

  • The visa bulletin remains current for the general category, Central America, and Mexico (no wait — celebrate!)
  • No change for China (still January 1, 2012)
  • Big five-month advance for India (now July 15, 2006). Expect another (smaller) advance in September. But if there’s a lot of demand in the general category from October onward, there will be fewer unused EB-3 green cards for Indians, and this line could stall again.
  • Really big advance of one year and two weeks for the Philippines (now June 1, 2015). Act now!
  • Very big 2.5-year retrogression for “other workers” from China (now January 1, 2004)

Finally, just to be complete about all of this: The cut-off dates for EB-4 “special immigrants” haven’t budged (still September 15, 2015 for Central America, India, and Mexico, and current for everyone else). And there’s no wait time for EB-5 investors except those from China, who saw a one-week advance (now June 15, 2014) that isn’t likely to get much better in the months ahead.

Why This Matters

If you are an applicant in line for a green card, it is important to keep track of actual changes in the visa bulletin, and also predicted future changes. It is always a good idea to prepare all the documents needed for your green card application ahead of time, and be ready to file as quickly as possible once the visa bulletin shows that a green card is available to you. By failing to file in a month when a green card is available, you risk facing a surprise retrogression in the next visa bulletin, which would close your window of opportunity for filing a green card application.

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