Family Visa Bulletin:
April 2020 Analysis & Predictions

All Countries | Mexico | Philippines | India F4

May 2020 Predictions

All Countries – April 2020 Visa Bulletin

Preference
Final Action
Movement
Remark

🌐All Countries Visa Bulletin for April 2020

F1Jan 1, 2014+12 weeksThe advancement in April was significantly above expectations as, since January the guidance of the Visa Office has been short-term movement of 'up to 6 weeks'. This seems to indicate that, in spite of the change in terms of speed and advancement of F1 since July 2019, the State Department either seems unable to generate enough documentarily qualified candidates; or it wants to schedule more interviews between now and September 2020 to fully use the number of Green Cards available under the Annual Numerical Limits. In any instance, F1 is currently trending above its 5, 10, 15 and 20-year averages, so we maintain- given that F1 is prone to regressions that there is a period of prolonged, slower advancement coming up starting in the Fall of 2020.F1 Predictions
F2AApr 1, 2020+4 weeksFor the 10th month in a row, F2A is 'current' for all countries of chargeability. The readjustment that we have been expecting (and that the Visa Office alluded to earlier this year) has still not take place. All the better for Applicants. Applicants who can take advantage of the situation should (Applicants going through Adjustment of Status can file Form I-130 and I-485 concurrently; or file Form I-485 right away if they already filed Form I-130, even if Form I-130 is not approved yet). It is a bit suprising how long this situation has lasted, but it might simply be because less than 5% of F2As go through Adjustment (95% go through Consular Processing where the 'flow' of applicants is still guided by the Welcome Letter, not the Filing Date of the Visa Bulletin).F2A Predictions
F2BNov 1, 2014+6 weeksThe advancement in April is twice what we were expecting. Is it an anomaly, or a change that is going to last for a few months? We think that this is an anomaly for three reasons: 1) The Visa Office itself recently said that the short-term was only going to be 'up to 3 weeks' (which was a clear step down from 'up to 6 weeks earler'); 2) Fiscal Year 2019 was by far the best of the last 20 years and allowed F2B to 'catch up'; 3) F2B is now above its historical trends, and it needs to go back to its 'normal' averages.F2B Predictions
F3Feb 1, 2008+6 weeksIn spite of an advancement in April that is more than what we expected, we think that the advancement of F3 will be slower in the coming months. The Visa Office indicated as part of the January VB that the short-term movement was going to be '1 to 3 weeks' (from 'up to a month' earlier), and the last few months confirmed the trend. It makes sense because Fiscal Year 2019 was the best of the last 12 years, and F3 is now above its historical trends. So April could simply be a positive anomaly.F3 Predictions
F4Jul 1, 2006NoneThe retrogression is confirmed in April, and it would be a big surprise if anything were to change before October 2020. The Visa Office is talking about a 'dramatic increase' in F4 applications in recent months to explain the retrogression. This makes sense because the advancement had picked up considerably since February 2019 and at some point it generated enough Documentarily Qualified applicants to reach the Annual Numerical limits for F4.F4 Predictions

Mexico – April 2020 Visa Bulletin

Preference
Final Action
Movement
Remark

🇲🇽Mexico Visa Bulletin for April 2020

F1Sep 22, 1997+1 weeksSign of life that we saw in February 2020 is again confirmed in April. After generating enough applications through aggressive advancement during Fiscal Year 2018, U.S. immigration agencies simply had enough applicants 'interview-ready' for the entirety of Fiscal Year 2019. It is good that the backlog has still not been fully digested.F1 Predictions
F2AApr 1, 2020+4 weeksFor the 10th month in a row, F2A is 'current' for all countries of chargeability. The readjustment that we have been expecting (and that the Visa Office alluded to earlier this year) has still not take place. All the better for Applicants. Applicants who can take advantage of the situation should (Applicants going through Adjustment of Status can file Form I-130 and I-485 concurrently; or file Form I-485 right away if they already filed Form I-130, even if Form I-130 is not approved yet). It is a bit suprising how long this situation has lasted, but it might simply be because less than 5% of F2As go through Adjustment (95% go through Consular Processing where the 'flow' of applicants is still guided by the Welcome Letter, not the Filing Date of the Visa Bulletin).F2A Predictions
F2BDec 1, 1998+6 weeksAre the better times that we have seen over the last few years (5 of the last 6 years have seen an advancement that is above average) definitely back? It does look like it. The advancement has been solid since the beginning of the Fiscal Year in October- except for a brief pause in December and January- and the advancement is picking up steam in April.F2B Predictions
F3May 8, 1996+4 weeksThe 'backlog' of application created during Fiscal Year 2018 has finally been processed. The advancement that we are seeing since January 2020 clearly indicates that, plus the advancement is increasing in April. So an indication of better things to come.F3 Predictions
F4Mar 15, 1998+4 weeksThe rate of advancement has been progressing in March and April, which is great news. 1) The 'technical retrogression' from July to September 2019 is over; 2) The 'backlog' of applications might be fully processed; 3) F4-Mex has been slower these last 10 years, and is due for a bit of a rebound.F4 Predictions

Philippines – April 2020 Visa Bulletin

Preference
Final Action
Movement
Remark

🇵🇭Philippines Visa Bulletin for April 2020

F1 Mar 1, 2010+25 weeksSame story as in March and as in preceeding months. It looks like the Visa Office believes that there are not enough Documentarily Qualified candidates to reach the annual numerical limits for Fiscal Year 2020 (which ends in September 2020). It looks like they were expecting more applicants to react to the significant advancement we saw in September 2019, and the rapid one we saw in the Nov '19 - Feb '20 period. They might keep pushing further, even if it means a retrogression in August or September 2020.F1 Predictions
F2AApr 1, 2020+4 weeksFor the 10th month in a row, F2A is 'current' for all countries of chargeability. The readjustment that we have been expecting (and that the Visa Office alluded to earlier this year) has still not take place. All the better for Applicants. Applicants who can take advantage of the situation should (Applicants going through Adjustment of Status can file Form I-130 and I-485 concurrently; or file Form I-485 right away if they already filed Form I-130, even if Form I-130 is not approved yet). It is a bit suprising how long this situation has lasted, but it might simply be because less than 5% of F2As go through Adjustment (95% go through Consular Processing where the 'flow' of applicants is still guided by the Welcome Letter, not the Filing Date of the Visa Bulletin).F2A Predictions
F2BFeb 1, 2010+17 weeksSame story as in March. Wait time for F2B - Phil went up a bit from approximately 10.5 year to 11.5 years, but it seems like it had quite an effect. More applicants are either dropping out, or not reacting to the rapid advancement of the Visa Bulletin date (Fiscal Year 2019 that has been one of the best years of the last 20 years, and the advancement is solid to strong advancement since October 2019). At least, that is what this 21-week jump seems to indicate: an attempt at fully using the annual number of available Green Cards before they 'expire' at the end of September 2020.F2B Predictions
F3May 15, 2000+32 weeksSame story as in March. Let's get a little perspective first: F3 - Phil has made as much advancement in the last year as it has in the 10 prior years combined! This tells you how agressive the Visa Office has been in terms of getting enough Documentarily Qualified applicants, to schedule enough interviews, and as a result to issue all the Green Cards available in this category. Once this short-term goal is reached (the current Fiscal Year ends in September 2020), a retrogression seems almost inevitable...F3 Predictions
F4May 1, 2000+21 weeksSame story as in March. F4- Phil does not seem to be different from F1, F2B, and F3. The Visa Office seems to believe that there are just not enough Documentarily Qualified applicants at this point in Fiscal Year 2020 (we are halfway through) to get to the annual numerical limit. As a result, the Visa Office has been pushing the Visa Bulletin date forward aggressively, especially since December 2019. The impressive advancement of Fiscal Year 2019 might not have been enough to get applicants to react last Fall.F4 Predictions

India – April 2020 Visa Bulletin

Preference
Final Action
Movement
Remark

🇮🇳India Visa Bulletin for April 2020

F4Dec 22, 2004+2 weeksMay is more of the same. We are still seeing limited advancement, and this has now being going on since April 2018. Unfortunately, these unsatisfactory results are also in line with expectations: in spite of a dismal 2017, an average 2018, and a disappointing 2019, F4-India is still trending above its 10-year historical line. So there is not much hope for a meaningful change of the current trajectory, unfortunately.F4 Predictions

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  • Immigration Planner’s Visa Bulletin Predictions;
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Frequently Asked Questions

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.

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