Family Visa Bulletin:
Analysis and Predictions

All Countries | Mexico | Philippines | India F4

April 2019 Predictions

All Countries – March 2019 Visa Bulletin

Preference
Final Action
Movement
Remark

🌐All Countries Visa Bulletin for March 2019

F1Oct 22, 2011+4 weeksWith a 4-week advancement in March 2019, F1-All Countries is in line with our prediction. We maintain our overall prediction of a bit of a 'catch up' in Fiscal Year 2019 with an advancement of about 4 weeks per month (after the two great Fiscal Years of 2016 and 2017, Fiscal Year 2018 was one of the worst of the last 20 years).F1 Predictions
F2AJan 8, 2017+5 weeksThe 5-week advancement is a nice surprise, as we were expecting a 3-week advancement in March 2019. There is so far no sign of the kind of slowdown that has plagued both Fiscal Years 2017 and 2018 for F2A-All Countries (nice starts followed by a pace of advancement that slowed considerably in the second half).F2A Predictions
F2BAug 1, 2012+13 weeksMarch 2019 saw an unpredictable 13-week advancement for F2B-All Countries. Does that mean that USCIS has been unable to build an 'inventory' of applications last year (Fiscal Year 2018 was very strong) and this year (Fiscal Year 2019 has been strong so far)? That is what it looks like. But it also means that they might 'overreach' and we might have a future of prolonged periods of no-advancement, or worse retrogressions.F2B Predictions
F3Sep 8, 2006+2 weeksMarch 2019 is in line with our predictions with a 3-week advancement for F3-All Countries. The two-month streak of below expectations months (Jan 2019 and Feb 2019 with 1-week and 2-week advancements) is broken. F3 remains strong after a very strong Fiscal Year 2018 and a solid start of Fiscal Year 2019.F3 Predictions
F4Sep 22, 2005+13 weeksWith a 13-week advancement in March 2019, the shape of Fiscal Year 2019 is changing drastically for F4-All Countries. Not only does it look like we are definitely over the limited advancement we saw from October 2016 to around March 2018, but Fiscal Year 2019 is shaping up to be a very strong year.F4 Prediction Predictions

Latest

What is special about the March 2019 Visa Bulletin?

March 2019 is halfway through U.S. Immigration agencies year (the U.S. Government Fiscal Year did not start in January 2019, but in October 2018). So at this point, we get a good sense of where things stand. What might be most noteworthy is the jump seen in F2B (All Countries), as well as F3-Philippines, and F4 (All Countries and the Philippines). We are talking 13 to 18-week advancement. Rare, and year altering.

Don’t see your Priority Date? Want to know when your Interview will take place? Get more details with Immigration Planner.

Mexico – March 2019 Visa Bulletin

Preference
Final Action
Movement
Remark

🇲🇽Mexico Visa Bulletin for March 2019

F1Aug 1, 1997NoneFor the 8th month in a row, there was no advancement for F1-Mexico in March 2019. This seems to be a confirmation that the significant advancement we saw in Fiscal Year 2018 (the best year of the last 20 years by quite a margin) created a significant 'inventory' of applications to be processed.F1Predictions
F2ADec 15, 2016+4 weeksWith a 4-week advancement, March 2019 is in line with our predictions. Solid F2A-Mexico so far.F2A Predictions
F2BSep 22, 1997+8 weeksFebruary and March 2019 completely the shape of Fiscal Year 2019 for F2B-Mexico with an 8-week advancement following a 6-week advancement. So we are back on solid ground, more in line with the solid advancement we saw from June to November 2018.F2B Predictions
F3Jan 15, 1996+3 weeksMarch 2019 is finally breaking the 5-month streak of no advancement for F3-Mexico. Is it the sign that USCIS finally worked through the 'inventory' of applications to be processed it built during a strong Fiscal Year 2018? We certainly hope so, but we will need to see confirmation in April 2019...F3 Predictions
F4Feb 8, 1998NoneFor the 4th consecutive month, there was no advancement in March 2019 for F4-Mexico. This follows a quite disappointing beginning of Fiscal Year 2019 (+2-week and +1-week in October and November 2018) and a weak Fiscal Year 2018. When will things finally turn around?F4 Predictions

Philippines – March 2019 Visa Bulletin

Preference
Final Action
Movement
Remark

🇵🇭Philippines Visa Bulletin for March 2019

F1Apr 1, 2007+2 weeksWe are having a 4th consecutive month of steady 2-week advancement for F1-Philippines. Even if we would like to see a bit more, the dynamic of Fiscal Year 2019 is more positive than prior years that were uneven and backloaded (there was limited advancement during the first 6 months of both Fiscal Years 2017 and 2018, and rapid advancement in the second half).F1 Predictions
F2AJan 8, 2017+5 weeksWe seem to be dancing around our predicted 3 to 4 week-advancement per month for F2A-Philippines with a 5-week advancement in March 2019. Nice and compensating a bit for months that were under target.F2A Predictions
F2BJul 22, 2007+3 weeksThe 3-week advancement in March 2019 of F2B-Philippines might be an indication that the 9-week advancement that we saw in September 2018 has been fully 'digested'. But we will need confirmation in April.F2B Predictions
F3Jan 1, 1996+18 weeksIn one may turn out to be one of the biggest surprises of the year, March 2019 produced a 19-week jump for F3-Philippines. It is great news, but at the same time raises the fear of future retrogressions, or prolonged periods of no-advancement. Obviously nobody, including the Visa Bulletin office, knows how this will turn out... F3 Predictions
F4Jan 1, 1996+13 weeksFiscal Year 2018 was one of the best of the last 20 years, and a lingering question was when would the inventory of application which was created as a result be fully processed. With an 18-week advancement in March 2019 for F4-Philippines, the answer is a resounding 'now'. This is great news and let's see what happens in the coming months.F4 Predictions

India – March 2019 Visa Bulletin

🇮🇳India F4 – March 2019

F4
Latest
Visa Bulletin Date:Mar 2019
Chargeability:India
Final Action Date:Jul 8, 2004
Movement:+2 weeks

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FAQ

Your Priority Date is the date when Form I-130 filed by the sponsor is accepted by USCIS. Form I-130 is accepted by USCIS when all required fields are filled out, the proper fee is enclosed, and the form is signed. As a result, ‘accepted’, is a few days after ‘received’ and a few months and years before ‘approved’. The Priority Date is displayed on the receipt sent by USCIS (Form I-797C).

Applicants who are eligible under a ‘preference’ classification (F1, F2A, F2B, F3, F4) have a Priority Date, because they are subject to Annual Numerical Limits: the number of Green Cards that can be granted annually under their ‘preference’ is capped.

Note: If you have a Receipt Date, and not a Priority Date, then you are an ‘immediate relative’ and the Visa Bulletin does not apply to you.

The ‘Final Action Date’ (F.A.D.) that applies to you depends on your ‘country of chargeability’ (All Countries, Mexico, the Philippines, and India for F4) and your ‘immigration category’ (F1, F2A, F2B, F3, and F4).

Your ‘country of chargeability’ is generally the country where you were born. If you were not born in Mexico, the Philppines or India, then your country of chargeability is ‘All Countries’. You can read the FAQ ‘What is your country of chargeability?’ if you are in doubt.

Your ‘immigration category’ depends on the sponsor’s legal status (U.S. Citizen or Green Card Holder), the family relationship between applicant and sponsor (spouse, child, or sibling), the age of the applicant (20 years or younger, 21 years or older), and the marital status of the applicant (married, or not married).

Your country of chargeability is where you were born, not where you currently reside. For example, applicants who were born in the Philippines but who currently hold a French passport will be ‘charged’ to the Philippines, not France.

There are however instances where applicants can be ‘charged’ to a country that is not the country where they were born. This matters only to applicants who were born in Mexico, the Philippines and F4-India applicants:

  • Spouses who are immigrating together, but were born in different countries, can pick the most beneficial country of chargeability
  • F2A-Spouses whose lawful permanent resident spouse was born in a different country may use the lawful permanent resident spouse’s country of chargeability, if more favorable
  • Children can cross-charge to a country of chargeability of the parent he or she is immigrating with or following to join
  • If a person is born in country where neither of his or her parents had citizenship or permanent residence, the person’s country of chargeability can be the country of either of his parents’ birth.

Your immigration category depends on the sponsor’s legal status (U.S. Citizen or Green Card Holder), the family relationship between applicant and sponsor (spouse, child, or sibling), the age of the applicant (20 years or younger, 21 years or older), and the marital status of the applicant (married, or not married):

Sponsor's Status
Family Relationship
Applicant's Marital Status
Applicant's Age
Immigration Category
Green Card HolderSpouseMarried20- or 21+F2A
Green Card HolderChildMarried20- or 21+F2B
Green Card HolderChildNot Married20-F2A
Green Card HolderChildNot Married21+F2B
U.S. CitizenChildNot Married20- or 21+F1
U.S. CitizenChildMarried20- or 21+F3
U.S. CitizenSiblingMarried or Not Married20- or 21+F4

Immigration Category Change
The applicant’s immigration category may change if the applicant gets married, turns 21, or if the sponsor gets married:

Initial Category
Change in Marital Status
Applicant's Age
Sponsor becomes a U.S. Citizen
New category
F2A ChildApplicant gets married--F2B
F2A Child-Applicant turns 21 and is not CSPA protected-F2B
F2A Child or SpouseSponsor becomes a USCImmediate Relative Child or Spouse
F2B--Sponsor becomes a USCF1 ('opt-out' possible)
F1Applicant gets married--F3
F3Applicant gets divorced--F1

‘Derivative Applicants’ who are the children of ‘Principal Applicants’ will no longer be eligible for a Green Card if:

  • They get married; or
  • They turn 21 and are not CSPA protected.

The Visa Bulletin that is in effect for a calendar month is the one that is ‘current’. In other words, during the calendar month of October, the dates of the October Visa Bulletin apply. The dates of the November Visa Bulletin do not apply in October, even if the November Visa Bulletin is released in early October.

If your immigration category is F1, F2A, F2B, F3, F4 and if you live in the United States and you are going through Adjustment of Status, then you can use the Filing Date to determine whether you are allowed to file Form I-485.

Less than 2% of all Family Green Card applicants can use the Filing Date (15,000 out of 800,000 in Fiscal Year 2016). The main reasons the Filing Date is not used are:

  • Filing Date cannot be used by applicants going through Consular Processing
  • Most applicants going through Adjustment of Status are Immediate Relatives, not ‘preference’ applicants who have to maintain valid U.S. status for extended periods of time.

Unfortunately no. The dates listed in the Visa Bulletin are the first date for which a Green Card number is not available. For example, if the Final Action Date is Jan 1st 2016, applicants with a Priority Date of Jan 1st 2016 are not ‘current’ when compared to the Final Action Date.

In theory yes, in reality no.

The Welcome Letter is sent by the National Visa Center (NVC) to family applicants under a ‘preference’ classification (F1, F2A, F2B, F3, F4) going through Consular Processing. Welcome Letters contain information that enable applicants who have an approved I-130 to file their Green Card Application.

So Filing Dates and Welcome Letters have the same purpose: determining when applicants can file their Green Card application whether through Form I-485 (adjustment of status) or Form DS-260 (Consular Processing). In theory, they should be the same. Filing Dates should simply ‘expose’ when applicants are within 12 months of their Final Action Dates becoming current. That way the NVC could make sure that Green Card applications are ‘interview-ready’ and schedule the Interview as soon as the Final Action Date becomes current.

Unfortunately, the reality is that generally Filing Dates do not become current within 12 months, and that Welcome Letters are generally sent when the Final Action Date is current, or about to become current.

That is why Immigration Planner releases Predictions about Final Action Dates, and not Filing Dates.

It depends. In order to see what our latest conclusions are, please read our post dedicated to this issue.

The process of scheduling the interview is initiated by U.S. immigration agencies when the following two requirements are met:

  • The applicant’s Priority Date is ‘current’ when compared to the relevant ‘Final Action Date’
  • The applicant’s Green Card Case is ‘interview-ready’ (also called ‘case complete’ or ‘documentarily qualified’, meaning that all the proper Forms, Evidence, and Fees necessary to make a decision on the Green Card Application have been received by U.S. Immigration Agencies).

Being ‘current’ means that the applicant’s Priority Date (which is when Form I-130 was filed) is ‘earlier’ than the relevant Final Action Date. If the relevant Final Action Date is January 1st 2018, then applicants with a Priority Date ‘earlier’ (that is up to December 31st 2016) are said to be current.
The relevant Final Action Date refers to the Final Action Date that applies to applicants based on their preference classification (F1, F2A, F2B, F3, F4) and countries of birth (Mexico, All Countries, …).

The month when the applicant’s Priority Date is current, U.S. Immigration agencies look for an available Interview slot in the month after next (if the applicant’s priority date becomes current in January, then they will start looking for slots in March). How long applicants wait depend on how busy the U.S. Consulate or USCIS Field office is.

Here are some of the things Immigration Planner’s tools help you think through while you wait:

  1. Maintaining your eligibility to your Green Card category. Things might for instance change if you get married!
  2. For applicants living in the United States, maintaining your eligibility to the adjustment of status process
  3. Establishing if you will need a waiver, and getting ready if you do
  4. Anticipate if there is a risk for your children to ‘age-out’ and whether the Child Status Protection Act (CSPA) might protect them
  5. Anticipate whether the sponsor becoming a U.S Citizen could be favorable, or would lead you to ‘opt-out’ of your new immigration category
  6. Be prepared to file the rest of the Green Card application as soon as U.S. immigration agencies allow it.

‘Documentarily qualified’, ‘Case complete’, ‘pre-processing’, ‘interview-ready’ all mean that U.S. immigration agencies have received all the Forms, Evidence, and Fees necessary to make a decision on the Green Card application. This is an administrative assessment that all the Forms and Documents have been filed because when they are not, a Request for Evidence is issued.

For ‘preference’ applicants who have a ‘current’ Priority Date when compared to the Final Action Date, the next step depends on the Green Card Process:

  • For applicants going through Consular Processing, the National Visa Center (NVC) will transfer the Green Card application to a U.S. Embassy or Consulate abroad (outside the United States)
  • For applicants going through Adjustment of Status, the National Benefit Center (NBC) will transfer the Green Card application to a USCIS Field Office (inside the United States)

The decision about the Green Card application will be made by the Consular Officer (a Department of State employee) for Consular Processing, or the Adjudicating Officer (a USCIS employee) for Adjustment of Status.

Immigration Planner: Forms

Smart Forms: Answers in Minutes not Months
Avoid doing the forms on paper or blindly. Enter your information once and transfer across forms. Check against USCIS rules before you file. Save, Download and Print at your convenience. Know what to file when and at the right time. And all this this using just your mobile phone.

Related Resources

New USCIS Processing Times for Form I-485

What happened? USCIS released 'Processing Times' and 'Case Inquiry Dates' based on a new methodology. Learn how to read, interpret and use this new information....

List of all the questions in the DS-260

All the questions in the DS-260, an online form used by the National Visa Center (NVC) to gather information about applicants for family green cards.

Should I ‘Opt-Out’ Of F1 And Stay In F2B?

Analysis of the 'distance' in the Visa Bulletin for family Green Card applicants under F1 and F2B for Mexico, The Philippines, and All Countries.