The Visa Bulletin Archive for April 2020

Mar 24, 2020

Official stamps an immigration visa application form.

Click here for the most recent Visa Bulletin.

If you don’t know what a “visa bulletin” or a “priority date” is, we’ve got you covered. Start by checking out the Boundless guide on How to Read the Visa Bulletin.

If you’re already familiar with those terms, skip ahead to our summary of key developments or to the filing category that’s most relevant to you:

Family-based categories

Employment-based categories

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The Bottom Line

The April 2020 Visa Bulletin brings some new movement in wait times for both the family-based (“F”) and employment-based (“EB”) green card categories.

The following key developments combine analysis by Boundless and insight from the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA), which checks in every month with Charles “Charlie” Oppenheim, Chief of the State Department’s Visa Control and Reporting Division, for his assessment of “current trends and future projections.” The AILA insights below were excerpted from AILA Doc. No. 14071401.

In family-based categories:

  • Oppenheim says the F2A category should continue to remain current for the foreseeable future. Even if he were to establish a final action date, it would be very close to the calendar date.
  • Other family-based categories are moving forward based on Oppenheim’s prior projections, with the exception of the Philippines, which continue to leap forward rapidly due to lack of demand, ranging from a four month advance in F2B to a 7.5 month advance in F3.

In employment-based categories:

  • EB-1 Worldwide (including El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras, Mexico, Philippines, and Vietnam) advances another three months. Oppenheim predicts fairly sizeable advancement in this category, with a strong possibility that this category could become current in early summer.
  • The EB-2 Worldwide category remains current in April. Last month, based on demand patterns that existed at the time, Charlie predicted that a final action date would need to be imposed in EB-2 Worldwide no later than June 2020. Based on the anticipated slowdown in processing due to the coronavirus, Charlie expects that might not occur until late summer, if at all.
  • With the suspension of IV appointments in Guangzhou, China, EB-5 China number usage is essentially nonexistent. Although the final action date advanced 4.5 months in March, this category will hold at May 15, 2015 in April.

Coronavirus Updates:

The State Department has cancelled all routine immigrant and nonimmigrant visa appointments at embassies and consulates worldwide. USCIS has temporarily shut down all of its domestic field offices due to the outbreak, and will not be processing as many immigrant visa and adjustment of status applications due to these closures. This could have the following effects:

  • In some categories, where visa numbers remain unused, it will result in those otherwise unused numbers being made available to other categories, such as falling “up” or “down” to other employment-based categories. This is likely to occur in EB-5, since the bulk of those numbers are used by China and the closure of the Guangzhou, China post will almost certainly result in positive forward movements in the EB-1 category.

Wonky technical note: This post focuses on the “Final Action Dates” in the Visa Bulletin because these dates are most relevant for figuring out when applicants will ultimately receive their green cards. Every month, however, USCIS announces whether applicants already living in the United States should file their “adjustment of status” applications based on the “Final Action Dates” or the “Dates for Filing.”

For April, all family-based visa applicants — except those in the F-2A category — must use the “Dates for Filing” (available on the State Department’s website), whereas F-2A and employment-based visa applicants must use the “Final Action Dates.” Applicants filing from outside the United States must follow the Final Action Dates. Read on for details…

Family-Based Green Card Backlogs

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

CountryNew Cut-off DateOld Cut-off DateChange in Wait Time
General Category1-Jan-148-Oct-13-2 months, 3 weeks, 1 day
China1-Jan-148-Oct-13-2 months, 3 weeks, 1 day
India1-Jan-148-Oct-13-2 months, 3 weeks, 1 day
Mexico22-Sep-9715-Sep-97-1 week
Philippines1-Mar-101-Sep-09-6 months

This category sees movement for all countries:

  • All countries see progress, some more so than others
  • Mexico advances the least, with an advance of just one week
  • The Philippines move forward the most, with a 6-month advance

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

CountryNew Cut-off DateOld Cut-off DateChange in Wait Time
General CategoryNo waitNo waitNo Change
ChinaNo waitNo waitNo Change
IndiaNo waitNo waitNo Change
MexicoNo waitNo waitNo Change
PhilippinesNo waitNo waitNo Change

This category has seen no change, with all countries remaining current.

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

CountryNew Cut-off DateOld Cut-off DateChange in Wait Time
General Category1-Nov-1415-Sep-14-1 month, 2 weeks, 3 days
China1-Nov-1415-Sep-14-1 month, 2 weeks, 3 days
India1-Nov-1415-Sep-14-1 month, 2 weeks, 3 days
Mexico1-Dec-9815-Oct-98-1 month, 2 weeks, 2 days
Philippines1-Feb-101-Oct-09-4 months

In April, there is movement for all countries but no large advances:

  • Four-month advance for the Philippines, continuing an advancing trend dating back to Oct. 2019
  • Over one-month advance for all other categories, including Mexico

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

CountryNew Cut-off DateOld Cut-off DateChange in Wait Time
General Category1-Feb-0815-Dec-07-1 month, 2 weeks, 3 days
China1-Feb-0815-Dec-07-1 month, 2 weeks, 3 days
India1-Feb-0815-Dec-07-1 month, 2 weeks, 3 days
Mexico8-May-968-Apr-96-1 month
Philippines15-May-001-Oct-99-7 months, 4 days

All countries speed up after a previous slowdown and no country stalls:

  • Over one-month advances for General Category, India, and China
  • Seven-month advance for the Philippines
  • Mexico speeds up, with a one-month advance

F-4: siblings of U.S. citizens

CountryNew Cut-off DateOld Cut-off DateChange in Wait Time
General Category1-Jul-061-Jul-06No Change
China1-Jul-061-Jul-06No Change
India22-Dec-048-Dec-04-2 weeks
Mexico15-Mar-9815-Feb-98-1 months
Philippines1-May-001-Dec-99-5 months

The General Category and China see no change, while most other countries see moderate advances :

  • The Philippines sees a five-month progression
  • Mexico experiences a one-month advance
  • Two-week advance for India
  • General Category and China do not advance or regress

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

CountryNew Cut-off DateOld Cut-off DateChange in Wait Time
General Category1-Jun-191-Mar-19-3 months
China8-Jun-171-Jun-17-1 week
Central America1-Jun-191-Mar-19-3 months
India01May1501Mar15-2 months
Mexico1-Jun-191-Mar-19-3 months
Philippines1-Jun-191-Mar-19-3 months
Vietnam1-Jun-191-Mar-19-3 months

Significant movement continues across this category:

  • Three-month advances for the General Category, Central America, Vietnam, and the Philippines
  • Two-month advance for India
  • One-week advance for China

EB-2: exceptional people and advanced degree holders

CountryNew Cut-off DateOld Cut-off DateChange in Wait Time
General CategoryNo WaitNo WaitNo Change
China1-Sep-1515-Aug-15-2 weeks, 3 days
Central AmericaNo WaitNo WaitNo Change
India25-May-0922-May-09-3 days
MexicoNo WaitNo WaitNo Change
PhilippinesNo WaitNo WaitNo Change
VietnamNo WaitNo WaitNo Change

No change for most of the category, except for India and China:

  • No visa wait time for the General Category, Central America, Mexico, Vietnam and the Philippines
  • Two-week advance for China
  • Three-day advance for India

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

CountryNew Cut-off DateOld Cut-off DateChange in Wait Time
General Category01Jan1701Jan17No Change
China15-Apr-1622-Mar-16-3 weeks, 1 day
Central America01Jan1701Jan17No Change
India22-Jan-0915-Jan-09-1 week
Mexico01Jan1701Jan17No Change
Philippines01Jan1701Jan17No Change
Vietnam01Jan1701Jan17No Change

This month continues to see no visa wait times for Mexico and Central America, but either no change or slight forward advances for other countries:

  • Visas remain current for Mexico and Central America
  • One-week advance for India
  • China sees three-week advance

In the EB-4 “special immigrants” category, the dates remain fairly static with the exception of Mexico, which sees an over two-month advance.

In the EB-5 category, no real changes are seen, except for India and Vietnam that experience advances:

CategoryCountryNew Cut-off DateOld Cut-off DateChange in Wait Time
EB-4: Special ImmigrantsGeneral CategoryNo WaitNo WaitNo Change
ChinaNo WaitNo WaitNo Change
Central America15Jul1615Jul16No Change
IndiaNo WaitNo WaitNo Change
Mexico22Jan1815Nov17-2 months, 1 week
PhilippinesNo WaitNo WaitNo Change
VietnamNo WaitNo WaitNo Change
CategoryCountryNew Cut-off DateOld Cut-off DateChange in Wait Time
EB-5: InvestorsGeneral CategoryNo WaitNo WaitNo Change
China15-May-1515May15No Change
Central AmericaNo WaitNo WaitNo Change
India1-Jan-1922-Oct-18-2 months, 1 week, 3 days
MexicoNo WaitNo WaitNo Change
PhilippinesNo WaitNo WaitNo Change
Vietnam8-Feb-1715-Jan-17-3 weeks, 1 day

Why This Matters

If you’re in line for a green card, it’s important to keep track of actual changes (and likely future developments) in the Visa Bulletin. It’s always a good idea to prepare all the documents needed for your green card application ahead of time, so you can 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 backward movement (“retrogression”) in the next Visa Bulletin, which would close your window of opportunity for filing a green card application.

Stay tuned for next month’s update! As always, we’ll highlight all the important changes for you.

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