The Latest Visa Bulletin: What’s New for May 2018


Understanding the green card waiting lists as of May 2018

Apr 16, 2018

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

  • There was some slight forward movement in the EB-3 worker visa category for India, but little other progress in the employment-based categories. A new queue appeared for EB-5 investor visa applicants from Vietnam.
  • Although the lines advanced in a few family-based categories for Mexico, there weren’t too many other reasons for families to celebrate 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 Mexico, while China and India have seen no forward-moving progress since last month:

  • No advance for the general category, China, and India (still April 8, 2011).
  • Nine-week advance for Mexico (now November 15, 1996).
  • Three-week advance for the Philippines (now January 22, 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 this month:

  • One-month advance for the general category, China, India, and the Philippines (now June 1, 2016).
  • Three-week advance for Mexico (now April 22, 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, strongest for the Philippines:

  • Five-week advance for the general category, China, and India (now May 15, 2011).
  • One-month advance for Mexico (now December 1, 1996).
  • Six-week advance for the Philippines (now December 15, 2006).

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

The F-3 category moves ahead somewhat:

  • More than a three-week advance for the general category, China, and India (now February 1, 2006).
  • Nearly an eight-week advance for Mexico (now September 1, 1995).
  • One-week advance for the Philippines (now April 1, 1995).

F-4: siblings of U.S. citizens

Some movement in the F-4 category:

  • Two-week advance for the general category and China (now October 1, 2004).
  • Two-week advance for India (now March 1, 2004).
  • One-month advance for Mexico (now January 8, 1998).
  • Nearly seven-week advance for the Philippines (now February 1, 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 modest movement for China and no movement for India:

  • Dates are current for the general category, Central America, Mexico, the Philippines, and Vietnam. No wait here!
  • One-month advance for China (now September 1, 2014).
  • No advance for India (still December 22, 2008).

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

Good news depending on country, with significant movement for India:

  • Dates are current for the general category, Central America, Mexico, and Vietnam (no wait — celebrate!).
  • No movement for China (still June 1, 2015).
  • Three-month advance for India (now May 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” has not moved for Central America (still December 15, 2015), advanced ten weeks for Mexico (now October 22, 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)—and, new this month, EB-5 investors from Vietnam (also 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, 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 funny cat watching a horror movie!