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

Understanding the green card waiting lists as of July 2018

Jun 18, 2018

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

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The Bottom Line

The July 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:

  • Although Mexico saw modest advances in some family-based categories, it also faced a significant setback in the EB-4 (“special immigrants”) category.
  • The EB-2 and EB-3 worker visa categories saw forward movement in leaps and bounds for China and India, but the other employment-based categories showed little progress.
  • Although the lines advanced in all the family-based categories, all the movements were relatively small this month.
  • Individuals of “extraordinary ability” from China and India are still losing their fast track to a green card since last month. 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 adults (age 21 and older) who are children of U.S. citizens

This month’s visa bulletin brings good news for China, India, and the Philippines, while Mexico shows significantly less forward progress since last month:

  • Two-week advance for the general category, China, and India (now April 22, 2011).
  • One-month advance for Mexico (now August 1, 1997).
  • Two-month, nine-day advance for the Philippines (now June 1, 2006).

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

There is some modest forward movement in the F-2A category, strongest for Mexico:

  • Two-week advance for the general category, China, India, and the Philippines (now June 22, 2016).
  • One-month advance for Mexico (now June 8, 2016).

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

This month’s visa bulletin shows modest forward movement in the F-2B category:

  • More than three-week advance for the general category, China, and India (now August 15, 2011).
  • Three-week advance for Mexico (now March 8, 1997).
  • Two-week advance for the Philippines (now February 1, 2007).

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

The F-3 category moves ahead somewhat, strongest for Mexico:

  • Six-week advance for the general category, China, and India (now May 1, 2006).
  • Two-month advance for Mexico (now December 1, 1995).
  • One-week advance for the Philippines (now April 15, 1995).

F-4: siblings of U.S. citizens

Some movement in the F-4 category:

  • Three-week advance for the general category and China (now November 15, 2004).
  • One-week advance for India (now March 22, 2004).
  • One-week advance for Mexico (now January 15, 1998).
  • One-month advance for the Philippines (now March 22, 1995).

Employment-Based Green Card Backlogs

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

EB-1 green card applicants from China and India, which previously had no wait time, are still facing a significant (though probably temporary) queue since last month.

  • Dates are current for the general category, Central America, Mexico, the Philippines, and Vietnam. Come and get your green cards!
  • No movement for China and India since last month (still January 1, 2012).

EB-2: exceptional people and advanced degree holders

The EB-2 category shows considerable forward movement for countries that saw little or no progress last month:

  • Dates are current for the general category, Central America, Mexico, the Philippines, and Vietnam. No wait here!
  • Four-and-a-half-month advance for China (now January 15, 2015). Full steam ahead!
  • Two-month, three-week advance for India (now March 15, 2009). Big improvement here!

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

India sees significant forward movement in this category since last month, while the Philippines remains at a standstill:

  • Dates are current for the general category, Central America, Mexico, and Vietnam (no wait — celebrate!).
  • Nearly two-week advance for China (now June 13, 2015).
  • Six-month advance for India (now November 1, 2008).
  • No movement for the Philippines (still January 1, 2017).

Finally, just to be complete about all of this: The cut-off date for EB-4 “special immigrants” moves forward by one month and three weeks for Central America (now February 8, 2016), while Mexico shows significant backward movement (now 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, you can laugh at these hilarious cats the rest of the day.

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