The Visa Bulletin: What’s New for August 2019?


The latest green card waiting lists as of August 2019, with predictions from a State Department official

Aug 1, 2019


The U.S. Department of State released its Visa Bulletin for August 2019. 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, 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

Now let’s continue…

The Bottom Line

The August 2019 Visa Bulletin brings some new movement in wait times for both the family- (“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:

  • Strong movement continues across the family-based categories, especially for the Philippines, but Mexico sees no change or very slow movement for F-1 and F-4 relatives. Oppenheim says this is due to continued high demand for Mexico.
  • The F-2A category remains current across all countries. Oppenheim says this will most likely continue into September, absent a surge in demand.
  • Oppenheim notes, however, that inviting a large number of F2-A applications could potentially cause a significant backward movement in cut-off dates (a phenomenon known as “retrogression”) in the F-2A category later this year.

In employment-based categories:

  • There has been significant retrogression of up to 3.5 years in employment-based categories. That’s common toward the end of a fiscal year, but unlike in previous years, Oppenheim predicts cut-off dates will not advance quickly in the new fiscal year. AILA notes that, due to high and unpredictable demand, this year Oppenheim appears to be more “guarded” about when dates will likely return to “current” but offers some reassurance on the State Department website that “every effort will be made to return these final action dates to those which applied for July.”
  • The backward movement in EB-1, EB-2, and EB-3 categories was driven by high demand across the board, with only India and China — where demand had already been very high — showing any signs of resilience. Oppenheim cautions that the State Department may stop making visas available in some categories before the end of the fiscal year, or take other actions in an attempt to manage the surge in demand for employment-based visas.
  • Other than for Central America and Mexico, EB-4 countries remain current, with Oppenheim expecting this to continue into September.
  • Bucking expectations, Oppenheim says Indian and Vietnamese EB-5 applicants will not see a return to a “current” cut-off date by the end of this year, with both countries likely to have a Final Action Date in place “for the foreseeable future.”

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 July, 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 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-Jul-128-Mar-12–3 months, 3 weeks, 2 days
China1-Jul-128-Mar-12–3 months, 3 weeks, 2 days
India1-Jul-128-Mar-12–3 months, 3 weeks, 2 days
Mexico1-Aug-961-Aug-96No change
Philippines22-Feb-0822-Aug-07-6 months

Mexico sees no progress, but all other countries move forward, with the Philippines showing the strongest improvement:

  • Three-month, 3-week, 2-day advance for the general category, China, and India
  • No change for Mexico
  • Six-month advance for the Philippines

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-Jan-141-Sep-13–4 months
China1-Jan-141-Sep-13–4 months
India1-Jan-141-Sep-13–4 months
Mexico1-Jun-9815-Apr-98–1 month, 2 weeks, 1 day
Philippines1-Apr-081-Jan-08–3 months

In August, all countries in this category continue to move forward. Mexico’s progress remains slow, while the Philippines’ progress drops off slightly from July:

  • Four-month advance for the general category, China, and India
  • One-month, 2-week, 1-day advance for Mexico
  • Three-month advance for the Philippines

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

CountryNew Cut-off DateOld Cut-off DateChange in Wait Time
General Category22-Jun-078-Mar-07–3 months, 2 weeks
China22-Jun-078-Mar-07–3 months, 2 weeks
India22-Jun-078-Mar-07–3 months, 2 weeks
Mexico1-Dec-951-Jul-95–5 months
Philippines1-Oct-971-Aug-97–2 months

All countries in this category advance, with Mexico showing the strongest movement after retrogressing in July:

  • Three-month, 2-week advance for the general category, China, and India
  • Five-month advance for Mexico
  • Two-month advance for the Philippines

F-4: siblings of U.S. citizens

CountryNew Cut-off DateOld Cut-off DateChange in Wait Time
General Category1-Oct-0615-Jun-06–3 months, 2 weeks, 2 days
China1-Oct-0615-Jun-06–3 months, 2 weeks, 2 days
India15-Sep-0422-Aug-04–3 weeks, 1 day
Mexico1-Jan-971-Jan-97No change
Philippines1-May-981-Jan-98–4 months

Strong movement continues for all countries except Mexico, which sees no change after retrogressing significantly in July:

  • Three-month, 2-week advance for the general category, China, and India
  • Four-month advance for the Philippines
  • No change for Mexico

Employment-Based Green Card Backlogs

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-Jul-1622-Apr-18+1 year, 9 months, 3 weeks
China1-Jul-168-May-17+10 months, 1 week
Central America1-Jul-1622-Apr-18+1 year, 9 months, 3 weeks
India1-Jan-151-Jan-15No change
Mexico1-Jul-1622-Apr-18+1 year, 9 months, 3 weeks
Philippines1-Jul-1622-Apr-18+1 year, 9 months, 3 weeks
Vietnam1-Jul-1622-Apr-18+1 year, 9 months, 3 weeks

Significant retrogression for all countries except India, which sees no change in movement:

  • One-year, 9-month, 3-week retrogression for the general category, Central America, Mexico, and Vietnam
  • Ten-month, 1-week retrogression for China
  • No change for India

EB-2: exceptional people and advanced degree holders

CountryNew Cut-off DateOld Cut-off DateChange in Wait Time
General Category1-Jan-17No wait+2 years, 8 months
China1-Jan-171-Nov-16–2 months
Central America1-Jan-17No wait+2 years, 8 months
India2-May-0924-Apr-09–1 week, 1 day
Mexico1-Jan-17No wait+2 years, 8 months
Philippines1-Jan-17No wait+2 years, 8 months
Vietnam1-Jan-17No wait+2 years, 8 months

Very significant retrogression for some in this category, but China and India edge forward:

  • Two-year, 8-month retrogression for the general category, Central America, Mexico, the Philippines, and Vietnam.
  • Two-month advance for China
  • One-week, 1-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 Category1-Jul-16No wait+3 years, 2 months
China1-Jul-161-Jan-16–6 months
Central America1-Jul-16No wait+3 years, 2 months
India1-Jan-061-Jul-09+3 years, 6 months
Mexico1-Jul-16No wait+3 years, 2 months
Philippines1-Jul-16No wait+3 years, 2 months
Vietnam1-Jul-16No wait+3 years, 2 months

Very significant retrogression for most countries in this category, but China ticks forward:

  • Over 3-year retrogression for the general category, Central America, India, Mexico, the Philippines, and Vietnam
  • Six-month advance for China

Finally, just to be complete about all of this: In the EB-4 “special immigrants” category, the wait times remain unchanged for all countries.
In the EB-5 investor category, India and Vietnam now see long waits, while China — where long waits are already the norm — edges forward slightly.

CategoryCountryNew Cut-off DateOld Cut-off DateChange in Wait Time
EB-4: Special ImmigrantsGeneral CategoryNo waitNo waitNo change
ChinaNo waitNo waitNo change
Central America1-Jul-161-Jul-16No change
IndiaNo waitNo waitNo change
Mexico1-Jul-161-Jul-16No change
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-Oct-141-Oct-14–2 weeks
Central AmericaNo waitNo waitNo change
India15-Oct-141-May-17+2 years, 6 months, 16 days
MexicoNo waitNo waitNo change
PhilippinesNo waitNo waitNo change
Vietnam15-Oct-141-Oct-16+1 year, 11 months, 16 days

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. In the meantime, enjoy watching this video of a LegoTown promo event that becomes a cat-astrophe.


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