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What is the Visa Bulletin? How do I read the Visa Bulletin?

Each month, the United States Department of State publishes a visa bulletin that lists the current priority dates for each category by country. The Visa Bulletin covers both family-based immigration and employment-based immigration. When checking the Visa Bulletin for your family member, you should find the family chart and the preference category (F1, F2A, F2B, F3, or F4) for the family member you are applying for.

  • If your family member is immigrating from one of the countries listed at the top of the chart, find the priority date below that matches the preference category for your family member.
  • If your family member is not from one of the countries listed at the top, use the dates in the “All Chargeability Areas Except Those Listed” category.
  • If your priority date on your family petition receipt or approval notice is before the date listed in the Visa Bulletin, there is a visa available for your family member.
  • If your priority date in the I-130 receipt is on or after the listed date, there is not yet a visa available for your family member and you must keep waiting.

Keep in mind that the dates listed on the Visa Bulletin depend on the number of applications that were received from the different countries for the different categories. The dates on the Visa Bulletin do not move chronologically. For example, if on September 1, 2012, the priority date listed for your category is September 1, 2016, then that does not mean that a visa will be available in four years. For many months, the date on the Visa Bulletin will not change or only change a few days—and it may even move backward. In the example above, four years gives you a general idea of the wait time. 

This article gives answers to this and other common questions about family-based immigration, specifically obtaining a green card. 


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