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


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

Jun 30, 2019


The U.S. Department of State released its Visa Bulletin for July 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.

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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 July 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:

  • Movement is strong across the family-based categories, especially for the Philippines, but Mexico sees significant backward movement in cutoff dates (a phenomenon known as “retrogression”) for F-1, F-3, and F-4 relatives.
  • The most significant change is in the F2A category: Dates are current for all countries in July, meaning there is no more wait time. Because green card and visa applicants have not been responding to “Agent of Choice” letters from the National Visa Center (NVC), which processes applications filed outside the United States, the lines were eliminated to encourage applicants to make progress on their applications, according to Oppenheim. He notes, however, that inviting a large number of applications is likely to cause retrogression to an earlier date in the F-2A category at some point.

In employment-based categories:

  • In the EB-1 category, Oppenheim expects eventual retrogression, possibly in August, except for China and India, whose dates he predicts will remain the same for the rest of fiscal year 2019 (until the end of September).
  • Due to increased demand, Oppenheim predicts that the EB-2 will not remain current in the August Visa Bulletin. Only India will continue to move forward, but only by up to a week.
  • The EB-3 category sees heavy demand, as well, and Oppenheim expects retrogression possibly in August. Also notable: There is no longer a wait for the Philippines; Chinese workers will continue to see advances by several months until the end of fiscal year 2019; but India will move little, if any, according to Oppenheim.
  • EB-4 remains current for most countries, except Central America, which advances more than 3 months. Oppenheim expects the Final Action Dates for these countries to remain steady until the end of September. The line for Mexico, however, moved backward significantly, by 2 years and 3 months.
  • For EB-5 Indian workers, there is now a line following several consecutive months of no cut-off. Oppenheim expects this and the cut-off dates for all other countries in the EB-5 category to remain throughout the rest of fiscal 2019.

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

Country New Cut-off Date Old Cut-off Date Change in Wait Time
General Category 8-Mar-12 15-Feb-12 –3 weeks, 1 day
China 8-Mar-12 15-Feb-12 –3 weeks, 1 day
India 8-Mar-12 15-Feb-12 –3 weeks, 1 day
Mexico 1-Aug-96 8-Aug-97 +1 year, 1 week
Philippines 22-Aug-07 22-Jun-07 –2 months

Mexico moves backward while all other countries make progress, strongest for the Philippines:

  • Three-week, 1-day advance for the general category, China, and India by over three weeks, and the Philippines by one week
  • One-year, 1-week backward movement for Mexico

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

Country New Cut-off Date Old Cut-off Date Change in Wait Time
General Category No wait 15-Jul-17 No more wait
China No wait 15-Jul-17 No more wait
India No wait 15-Jul-17 No more wait
Mexico No wait 1-Jul-17 No more wait
Philippines No wait 15-Jul-17 No more wait

This category has seen very significant change, with all countries advancing to current status, meaning there is no wait time.


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

Country New Cut-off Date Old Cut-off Date Change in Wait Time
General Category 1-Sep-13 15-May-13 –3 months, 2 weeks, 3 days
China 1-Sep-13 15-May-13 –3 months, 2 weeks, 3 days
India 1-Sep-13 15-May-13 –3 months, 2 weeks, 3 days
Mexico 15-Apr-98 15-Mar-98 –1 month
Philippines 1-Jan-08 15-Nov-07 –3 months, 2 weeks, 3 days

This month, most countries in this category continue to move forward. Mexico continues to slow but the Philippines moves forward significantly:

  • Three-month, 2-week, 3-day advance for the general category, China, India, and the Philippines
  • One-month advance for Mexico

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

Country New Cut-off Date Old Cut-off Date Change in Wait Time
General Category 8-Mar-07 22-Dec-06 –2 months, 2 weeks
China 8-Mar-07 22-Dec-06 –2 months, 2 weeks
India 8-Mar-07 22-Dec-06 –2 months, 2 weeks
Mexico 1-Jul-95 22-Feb-96 +7 months, 3 weeks
Philippines 1-Aug-97 1-Feb-97 –6 months

Most countries in this category advance, with strongest movement for the Philippines, while Mexico moves backward significantly:

  • Two-month, 2-week advance for the general category, China, and India
  • Six-month advance for the Philippines
  • Seven-month, 3-week retrogression for Mexico

F-4: siblings of U.S. citizens

Country New Cut-off Date Old Cut-off Date Change in Wait Time
General Category 15-Jun-06 1-Apr-06 –2 months, 2 weeks
China 15-Jun-06 1-Apr-06 –2 months, 2 weeks
India 22-Aug-04 15-Aug-04 –1 week
Mexico 1-Jan-97 8-Feb-98 +1 year, 1 month, 1 week
Philippines 1-Jan-98 1-Jun-97 –7 months

The Philippines continues to move ahead of the pack, while Mexico moves backward significantly after already making no progress for 7 months in a row:

  • Two-month, 2-week advance for the general category and China
  • Seven-month advance for the Philippines
  • One-week advance for India
  • One-year, 1-month, 1-week retrogression for Mexico

Employment-Based Green Card Backlogs

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

Country New Cut-off Date Old Cut-off Date Change in Wait Time
General Category 22-Apr-18 22-Apr-18 No change
China 8-May-17 22-Feb-17 –2 months, 2 weeks, 2 days
Central America 22-Apr-18 22-Apr-18 No change
India 1-Jan-15 1-Jan-15 No change
Mexico 22-Apr-18 22-Apr-18 No change
Philippines 22-Apr-18 22-Apr-18 No change
Vietnam 22-Apr-18 22-Apr-18 No change

No Change in movement for this category, expect for China:

  • No change for the general category, Central America, India, Mexico, the Philippines, and Vietnam
  • Two-month, 2-week, 2-day advance for China

EB-2: exceptional people and advanced degree holders

Country New Cut-off Date Old Cut-off Date Change in Wait Time
General Category No wait No wait No change
China 1-Nov-16 1-Aug-16 –3 months
Central America No wait No wait No change
India 24-Apr-09 19-Apr-09 –5 days
Mexico No wait No wait No change
Philippines No wait No wait No change
Vietnam No wait No wait No change

Mostly good news in this category, with no lines for nearly all countries except China and India:

  • Dates remain current for the general category, Central America, Mexico, the Philippines, and Vietnam — no wait, celebrate!
  • Three-month advance for China
  • Five-day advance for India

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

Country New Cut-off Date Old Cut-off Date Change in Wait Time
General Category No wait No wait No change
China 1-Jan-16 15-Sep-15 –3 months, 2 weeks, 3 days
Central America No wait No wait No change
India 1-Jul-09 1-Jul-09 No change
Mexico No wait No wait No change
Philippines No wait 1-Nov-18 No more wait
Vietnam No wait No wait No change

No lines for many countries in this category, plus the general category, a trend that started at the beginning of the new fiscal year. This now also includes the Philippines:

  • Dates current for the general category, Central America, Mexico, Vietnam and the Philippines
  • No change for India
  • Three-month, 2-week, 3-day advance for China

Finally, just to be complete about all of this: In the EB-4 “special immigrants” category, the line shows movement again for Central America, but Mexico sees backward movement (retrogression) by over 2 years. In the EB-5 investor category, China and Vietnam continue to have uncleared backlogs but are now joined by India, which retrogressed by over 2 years.

Category Country New Cut-off Date Old Cut-off Date Change in Wait Time
EB-4: Special Immigrants General Category No wait No wait No change
China No wait No wait No change
Central America 1-Jul-16 22-Mar-16 –3 months, 1 week, 2 days
India No wait No wait No change
Mexico 1-Jul-16 1-Oct-18 +2 years, 3 months
Philippines No wait No wait No change
Vietnam No wait No wait No change
Category Country New Cut-off Date Old Cut-off Date Change in Wait Time
EB-5: Investors General Category No wait No wait No change
China 1-Oct-14 1-Oct-14 No change
Central America No wait No wait No change
India 1-May-17 No wait +2 years, 2 months
Mexico No wait No wait No change
Philippines No wait No wait No change
Vietnam 1-Oct-16 1-Oct-16 No change

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 gorilla spotted walking like a human at the Philadelphia Zoo.


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