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

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

Oct 28, 2019

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

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The Bottom Line

The November 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:

  • Monthly movement across all family-based categories remains steady, and on par with previous months, although Mexico mostly sees no change.
  • F-2A category remains current across all countries for November, despite Oppenheim’s previously analysis that it might have wait times reinstated due to increasing demand, but as wait times remain very low, so the dates remain current.
  • Oppenheim says Mexico family-based applicants, with the exception of F2A category, will continue to experience very limited movement for “foreseeable future” due the high demand level.
  • The Philippines can expect to see continued advances cross the family-based category as Oppenheim notes that this is being done to generate demand.
  • Due to low-demand, Oppenheim says he might start to move family-based dates forward at a faster rate than reported in October’s visa bulletin.

In employment-based categories:

  • EB-1 Final Action Dates advanced, with EB-1 Worldwide (including El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras, Mexico, Philippines, and Vietnam) advancing around 5 weeks. China advanced a full 3 months but India sees no change. Oppenheim says India will probably not advance for some time due to significant number use.
  • Due to low-demand in the other countries, Oppenheim forsees EB-1 remaining current into the next fiscal year.
  • The EB-3 category bears watching into Q2 of the fiscal year and beyond. Oppenheim is very surprised at the high level of numbers used in this category and pending demand.
  • EB-4 dates continue to be current, except for Central America and Mexico. High levels of demand mean Oppenheim does not believe there will be any movement for Central America for the foreseeable future. Charlie also believes if current Indian demand trend continues, the category will become oversubscribed much earlier than in past years, but should remain available through at least January.

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 November, 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-Mar-1315-Jan-131 month(s), 14 day(s)
China1-Mar-1315-Jan-131 month(s), 14 day(s)
India1-Mar-1315-Jan-131 month(s), 14 day(s)
Mexico8-Aug-978-Aug-97No Change
Philippines15-Sep-081-Jul-082 month(s), 14 day(s)

Whilst this category sees moderate movement, the advances seen are quite small compared to the previous month, although Mexico does advance by more than a year:

  • All countries, except Mexico, see progress, with the General Category, India and China seeing more than one-month advances.
  • The Philippines surges forward with a two-month advance, having previously been at two-weeks.

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 Category8-Jul-141-Jun-141 month(s), 7 day(s)
China8-Jul-141-Jun-141 month(s), 7 day(s)
India8-Jul-141-Jun-141 month(s), 7 day(s)
Mexico22-Aug-981-Aug-980 month(s), 21 day(s)
Philippines1-Oct-081-Sep-081 month(s), 0 day(s)

In November, movement continues slowly for most countries:

  • One-month and one-week advances for the General Category, China and India.
  • One-month advance for the Philippines, continuing the trend from October.
  • Mexico sees only a three-week advance, down from one-month in October.

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

CountryNew Cut-off DateOld Cut-off DateChange in Wait Time
General Category15-Oct-0715-Sep-071 month(s), 0 day(s)
China15-Oct-0715-Sep-071 month(s), 0 day(s)
India15-Oct-0715-Sep-071 month(s), 0 day(s)
Mexico22-Feb-9622-Feb-960 month(s), 0 day(s)
Philippines1-Jun-981-Apr-982 month(s), 0 day(s)

All countries in this category advance, but Mexico stalls despite showing strong progress in October:

  • One-month advance for General Category, India and China.
  • Two-month for the Philippines.
  • No change for Mexico.

F-4: siblings of U.S. citizens

CountryNew Cut-off DateOld Cut-off DateChange in Wait Time
General Category1-Jan-0722-Nov-061 month(s), 10 day(s)
China1-Jan-0722-Nov-061 month(s), 10 day(s)
India15-Oct-041-Oct-040 month(s), 14 day(s)
Mexico15-Dec-9715-Dec-970 month(s), 0 day(s)
Philippines1-Sep-988-Jul-981 month(s), 24 day(s)

All countries see moderate forward movement, with the exception of Mexico which sees no change despite a previous 11-month advance:

  • Over one-month advance for the General Category and China.
  • The Philippines sees a one-month and three-week progression.
  • Two-week advance for India.
  • 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-Jun-1822-Apr-181 month(s), 10 day(s)
China1-Feb-171-Nov-163 month(s), 0 day(s)
Central America1-Jun-1822-Apr-181 month(s), 10 day(s)
India01Jan1501Jan150 month(s), 0 day(s)
Mexico1-Jun-1822-Apr-181 month(s), 10 day(s)
Philippines1-Jun-1822-Apr-181 month(s), 10 day(s)
Vietnam1-Jun-1822-Apr-181 month(s), 10 day(s)

Movement slows slightly across this category, with India seeing no change and China seeing a three-month advance:

  • Over one-month advances for the General Category, Central America, Vietnam and the Philippines.
  • Three-month 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
China15-Mar-151-Jan-152 month(s), 14 day(s)
Central AmericaNo WaitNo WaitNo Change
India13-May-0912-May-090 month(s), 1 day(s)
MexicoNo WaitNo WaitNo Change
PhilippinesNo WaitNo WaitNo Change
VietnamNo WaitNo WaitNo Change

Almost has no wait times, except for India and China:

  • No visa wait time for the General Category, Central America, Mexico, Vietnam and the Philippines. Celebrate!
  • Two-months and two-weeks forward movement for China, after backward movement in October.
  • One-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 CategoryNo WaitNo WaitNo Change
China1-Nov-151-Nov-15No Change
Central AmericaNo WaitNo WaitNo Change
India1-Jan-091-Jan-09No Change
MexicoNo WaitNo Wait No Change
Philippines1-Feb-1815-Oct-173 months, 14 days
VietnamNo WaitNo WaitNo Change

This month continues to see no visa wait times for the General Category, Mexico, Central America, and Vietnam. Other countries see some or no forward movement:

  • No more visa times for the General Category, Mexico, Central America, and Vietnam.
  • No change in wait times for India and China.
  • Three-month advance for the Philippines.

Finally, in the EB-4 “special immigrants” category, there continue to be no wait times for the General Category, China, India, the Philippines, and Vietnam.

In the EB-5 investor category, China, India, and Vietnam see some forward movement, although long wait times remain the norm.

CategoryCountryNew Cut-off DateOld Cut-off DateChange in Wait Time
EB-4: Special ImmigrantsGeneral CategoryNo WaitNo WaitNo Change
ChinaNo WaitNo WaitNo Change
Central America01-Jul-1601-Jul-16No Change
IndiaNo WaitNo WaitNo Change
Mexico22-Jul-171-May-172 month(s), 21 day(s)
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
China1-Nov-1422-Oct-140 month(s), 10 day(s)
Central AmericaNo waitNo waitNo Change
India8-Dec-1722-Nov-170 month(s), 16 day(s)
MexicoNo waitNo waitNo Change
PhilippinesNo waitNo waitNo Change
Vietnam15-Nov-1615-Oct-161 month(s), 0 day(s)

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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