The Visa Bulletin: What’s New for August 2018?


Understanding the green card waiting lists as of August 2018

Jul 13, 2018


The U.S. Department of State recently released its Visa Bulletin for August 2018. 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. Start by checking out the Boundless guide on How to Read the Visa Bulletin.

Now let’s continue…

The Bottom Line

The August 2018 Visa Bulletin brings some new movement in wait times for both the family-based (“FB”) and employment-based (“EB”) green card categories. Here are the key developments:

  • Mexico continues to show little or no progress in the family-based categories compared with all other countries, which saw relatively small advances this month.
  • After seeing big improvements in some worker visa categories for China and India last month, the current visa bulletin shows the opposite: a new backlog, zero movement, or both in each employment-based category.
  • Chinese bachelor’s degree holders and skilled and unskilled workers face the biggest upset in the employment-based categories, as their cut-off date was pushed back by nearly a year!
  • Individuals of “extraordinary ability” from China and India are still losing their fast track to a green card since previous months. This is probably only temporary, though; these and other wait times are expected to reset on October 1, 2018, when the government’s fiscal new year begins.

(Wonky technical note: This post focuses on the “final action dates” in the visa bulletin, since these dates are most relevant for figuring out when applicants will ultimately receive their green cards.)

Read on for details…

Family-Based Green Card Backlogs

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

Forward advances in this category were modest for everyone except Mexico, which shows no progress since last month:

  • Two-and-a-half-week advance for the general category, China, and India (now May 8, 2011)
  • No forward movement for Mexico (still August 1, 1997)
  • One-month advance for the Philippines (now August 1, 2006)

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

All countries move ahead somewhat in this category:

  • One-month advance for the general category, China, India, and the Philippines (now July 22, 2016)
  • Three-week advance for Mexico (now July 1, 2016)

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

This month’s visa bulletin shows bigger advances for the general category, China, and India than for Mexico and the Philippines:

  • Two-month, one-week advance for the general category, China, and India (now October 22, 2011)
  • More than three-week advance for Mexico (now April 1, 1997)
  • Two-week advance for the Philippines (now February 15, 2007)

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

No advance for Mexico this month after strong movement between June and July 2018 but steady progress for everyone else:

  • Six-week advance for the general category, China, and India (now June 15, 2006)
  • No forward movement for Mexico (still December 1, 1995)
  • Two-week advance for the Philippines (now May 1, 1995)

F-4: siblings of U.S. citizens

No progress for India or Mexico this month after slight movements between June and July 2018 but some movement for everyone else:

  • One-month, one-week advance for the general category and China (now December 22, 2004)
  • No forward movement for India (still March 22, 2004)
  • No forward movement for Mexico (still January 15, 1998)
  • One-month advance for the Philippines (now April 22, 1995)

Employment-Based Green Card Backlogs

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

All countries in this category now have a wait time. China and India still face a significant (though probably temporary) queue since previous months.

  • New backlog for the general category, Central America, Mexico, the Philippines, and Vietnam (now May 1, 2016)
  • No movement for China and India since last month (still January 1, 2012)

EB-2: exceptional people and advanced degree holders

This category shows considerably less forward progress for countries that made significant advances last month:

  • Dates are current for the general category, Central America, Mexico, the Philippines, and Vietnam. No wait here!
  • One-and-a-half-month advance for China (now March 1, 2015)
  • No forward movement for India (still March 15, 2009)

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

A mixed bag of progress in this category: Nearly a one-year reverse on the cut-off date for China but comparatively more modest forward movement for India since last month. The Philippines remains at a standstill:

  • Dates are current for the general category, Central America, Mexico, and Vietnam (no wait — celebrate!)
  • Eleven-and-a-half-month reverse for China (now July 1, 2014)
  • Two-month advance for India (now January 1, 2009)
  • No movement for the Philippines (still June 1, 2017)

Finally, just to be complete about all of this: The cut-off date for EB-4 “special immigrants” has not moved for Central America and Mexico (still February 8, 2016). The date was previously current for India, but there is now a backlog (February 8, 2016). This category is current for everyone else. And there’s no wait time for EB-5 investors except those from China and Vietnam, each with no movement since last month (still August 1, 2014).

Why This Matters

If you are an applicant in line for a green card, it’s important to keep track of actual changes in the visa bulletin and also likely future changes. 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 visa bulletin! As always, we’ll highlight all the important changes for you. In the meantime, enjoy this video of babies bouncing on an exercise machine.


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