The Latest Visa Bulletin, Explained


Understanding the green card waiting lists as of June 2018

May 10, 2018

The U.S. Department of State recently released its Visa Bulletin for June 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 June 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 very slight forward movement in the EB-2 worker visa category for India and EB-5 investor category for China and Vietnam but virtually no progress in the other employment-based categories.
  • 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 and the Philippines, while China and India have seen no forward-moving progress since last month:

  • No movement for the general category, China, and India (still April 8, 2011).
  • Six-and-a-half-month advance for Mexico (now June 1, 1997).
  • Two-month advance for the Philippines (now March 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-week advance for the general category, China, India, and the Philippines (now June 8, 2016).
  • More than two-week advance for Mexico (now May 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, strongest for Mexico:

  • More than five-week advance for the general category, China, and India (now June 22, 2011).
  • Two-and-a-half-month advance for Mexico (now February 15, 1997).
  • One-month advance for the Philippines (now January 15, 2007).

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

The F-3 category moves ahead somewhat, strongest for China and India:

  • Six-week advance for the general category, China, and India (now March 15, 2006).
  • One-month advance for Mexico (now October 1, 1995).
  • One-week advance for the Philippines (now April 8, 1995).

F-4: siblings of U.S. citizens

Some movement in the F-4 category except for Mexico:

  • Three-week advance for the general category and China (now October 22, 2004).
  • Two-week advance for India (now March 15, 2004).
  • No movement for Mexico (still January 8, 1998).
  • Three-week advance for the Philippines (now February 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 very slight movement for India and no movement for China:

  • Dates are current for the general category, Central America, Mexico, the Philippines, and Vietnam. No wait here!
  • No movement for China (still September 1, 2014).
  • Four-day advance for India (now December 26, 2008).

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

Three countries saw no movement in this category since last month:

  • Dates are current for the general category, Central America, Mexico, and Vietnam (no wait — celebrate!).
  • No movement for China (still June 1, 2015).
  • No movement for India (still 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) or for Mexico (still October 22, 2016) but is current for everyone else. And there’s no wait time for EB-5 investors except those from China and Vietnam, each with a modest 10-day advance since last month (now 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, watch these funny goats scream like real people!