What is the Visa Bulletin?
The U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Consular Affairs publishes The Visa Bulletin every month, which informs those wishing to come to the United States on the status of immigrant visas. It is used by those who want to apply for a green card, a document that enables a foreign citizen to live and work permanently in the US.
The categories used to structure the Visa Bulletin are determined by the applicant’s relationship to a citizen or lawful permanent resident of the United States for family-based categories, or by the applicant’s job position for employment-based categories. Each category has a priority date, which is the day the applicant’s green card application was submitted.
Why is the Visa Bulletin Important?
The purpose of the Visa Bulletin is to manage the demand for immigrant visas and ensure that those who are eligible for green cards may do so right away. It helps to ensure that applying for a green card is a fair and organized process and that people who meet the requirements can enter the country or alter their status while they are already there.
Those who can submit a green card application have priority dates that are earlier than the deadlines listed in the Visa Bulletin. Notably, in the recently issued January 2023 Visa Bulletin, the priority date for the EB-1 category for China and India has moved backward and is now February 1, 2022, on the Final Action Date chart.
January 2023 Visa Bulletin Summary
Employment-Based, First Preference Category:
Regressing to a February 1, 2022 date for EB1 applicants in China and India. All charged nations still apply to the category. Although disappointing, retrogression is not entirely unanticipated. The DOS indicated that the December 2022 Visa Bulletin’s deadlines for the EB1 category for China and India will likely advance “in the future months.”
Employer-Based Second Preference Category (EB2):
There have been no changes to the EB2 category from the previous month. The EB2 China deadline is still June 8, 2019, while the EB2 India date is still October 8, 2011. For all other nations of chargeability, the EB2 cutoff date is November 1, 2022.
Employment-Based Third Preference (EB3) Category
Furthermore, the EB3 categorization has not changed. India’s EB3 application deadline is now June 15, 2012. The EB3 China application deadline is still August 1st, 2018. For all other nations of chargeability, the EB3 category continues to be in effect.
EB3 Other Workers
Chinese EB3 other workers’ application deadline has been pushed up to December 22, 2013. There are no other movements in this category. The deadline for India is currently June 15, 2012. For all other nations of chargeability, the deadline for EB3 other workers is still June 1, 2020.
Employment-Based (EB4) Category, fourth preference
The EB4 classification has not altered. The EB4 deadline for El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras is still March 15, 2018. The deadline for EB4 Mexico applications is still September 15, 2020. For all other charged nations, the EB4 cutoff date of June 22, 2022, is applicable.
The current termination date for the EB4 program for certain religious personnel is December 23, 2022. If Congress does not reauthorize the program by December 23, 2022, some religious employees would lose their eligibility under the EB4 category.
Employment-Based Fifth Preference (EB5) Category
The EB5 classification has not altered. China’s EB5 unreserved application deadline remains March 22, 2015; this refers to applications for EB5 immigrant visas not designated for rural, high unemployment, or infrastructure projects. India’s EB5 unreserved financing deadline is still November 8, 2019. EB5 is still in force for all other EB5 categories and countries of chargeability.
Why It Matters
If you’re awaiting a green card, it’s critical to keep track of current changes (and anticipated future ones) in the Visa Bulletin. Always be prepared to submit your green card application as soon as the Visa Bulletin indicates that one is available to you by gathering all the documentation you will need in advance.
You face the risk of obtaining a surprise retrogression in the next Visa Bulletin, which would close your window of opportunity to submit a green card application if you wait until one month after a green card becomes available to apply. Watch for the update in the next month! As always, if anything significant changes, we’ll let you know.