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

Feb 13, 2018

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

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Now let’s continue…

The Bottom Line

The March 2018 Visa Bulletin brings some modest movement in wait times for both the family-based (“FB”) and employment-based (“EB”) green card categories.

While there are no major changes in this month’s visa bulletin, would-be green card applicants from India and the Philippines have the most reason to celebrate, with some categories moving ahead by multiple months.

(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 a standstill for many people in the F-1 category, with some modest progress for those from the Philippines—after recently moving backwards by two whole years, there’s some new forward motion this month:

  • One-week advance for the general category, China, and India (now March 22, 2011).
  • Three-week advance for for Mexico (now July 22, 1996).
  • Six-week advance for the Philippines (now October 15, 2005).

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 this month:

  • Three-week advance in cut-off date for the general category, China, India, and the Philippines (now March 22, 2016).
  • One-month advance for Mexico (now March 1, 2016).

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

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

  • Six-week advance in the cut-off dates for the general category, China, and India (now March 1, 2011).
  • Five-week advance for Mexico (now October 15, 1996).
  • Six-week advance for the Philippines (now September 8, 2006).

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

The F-3 category moves somewhat, but no relief for those from Mexico:

  • One-month advance in the cut-off dates for the general category, China, and India (now December 15, 2005).
  • No change for Mexico (still June 22, 1995).
  • One-week advance for the Philippines (now March 22, 1995).

F-4: siblings of U.S. citizens

Some meaningful movement in the F-4 category:

  • One-month advance in the cut-off date for the general category and China (now August 22, 2004).
  • Three-week advance for India (now February 1, 2004).
  • One-week advance for Mexico (now November 15, 1997).
  • Seven-week advance for the Philippines (now November 22, 1994).

Employment-Based Green Card Backlogs

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

This category remains current across all countries. Come and get your green cards!

EB-2: exceptional people and advanced degree holders

The EB-2 category remains current for the general category, Central America, Mexico, and the Philippines, with a bigger leap for China than India:

  • Dates are current for the general category, Central America, Mexico, and the Philippines. No wait here!
  • Ten-week advance for China (now December 8, 2013).
  • One-week advance for India (now December 15, 2008).

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

Good news depending on country, with a particularly bigger jump for China and the Philippines:

  • Dates remains current for the general category, Central America, and Mexico (no wait — celebrate!).
  • Two-month advance for China (now November 15, 2014).
  • One-month advance for India (now January 1, 2007).
  • Two-month advance for the Philippines (now May 1, 2016).

Finally, just to be complete about all of this: The cut-off date for EB-4 “special immigrants” didn’t move for Central America (still December 1, 2015), advanced one week for Mexico (now July 1, 2016), and is current for everyone else. And there’s no wait time for EB-5 investors except those from China, whose cut-off date didn’t budge since last month (still July 22, 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, and 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 one cute puppy after another

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