Family Visa Bulletin:
Analysis and Predictions

All Countries | Mexico | Philippines | India F4

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All Countries – Latest Visa Bulletin

Final Action

🌐All Countries Visa Bulletin for December 2018

F1Aug 8, 2011+6 weeksF1 exceeded our expectations in December 2018. We were predicting a 3 to 4-week advancement, and we got a 6-week advancement. Although we are still early in the Fiscal Year, this seems to give more probability that there will be a bit of 'catching up' in Fiscal Year 2019 (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
F2AOct 8, 2016+3 weeksWe are anticipating a 4-week advancement of F2A every month, so December 2018 was, like November 2018, a bit under our expectations with a 3-week advancement. In any case, how solid the year will be for F2A will most likely be decided in the second half of Fiscal Year 2019: both Fiscal Years 2017 and 2018 started well, but the pace of advancement slowed considerably in the second half.F2A Predictions
F2BFeb 15, 2012+6 weeksF2B exceeded expectations in December 2018 with a 6-week advancement following an already strong 5-week advancement in November 2018. That is great news considering that, after a very strong Fiscal Year 2018 for F2B, the worry is that an 'inventory' of applications to be processed has been created, and that as a result, advancement of the Final Action Date could be limited in Fiscal Year 2019. But, so far so good. There has been no sign of such inventory in the October to December 2018 period, and it will hopfully stay that way...F2B Predictions
F3Aug 1, 2006+3 weeksWith a 3-week advancement for F3, December 2018 was in line with expectations (although Fiscal Year 2018 was very strong for F3, we predict a 3-week advancement per month during Fiscal Year 2019). October 2018 was only about 'absorbing' the regression that we saw at the end of Fiscal Year 2018, but since then we did indeed see with November and December 2018 two consecutive months of 3-week advancement.F3 Predictions
F4Apr 22, 2005+4 weeksWith a 4-week advancement in December 2018, F4 is confirming its solid start of Fiscal Year 2019. This is giving us hope that we might get the strong Fiscal Year 2019 that we need in order to reverse what has been a negative trend for F4 lately (F4 did not advance much during Fiscal Year 2017 and during the first half of Fiscal Year 2018, and as a result, 'Time to Current' for F4 has jumped to 13.5 years, the highest it has ever been).F4 Prediction Predictions


What is special about the latest Visa Bulletin?

The U.S. Government Fiscal Year does not start in January, but in October, which makes December the third month of the Fiscal Year. But after a September where we tend to see limited advancement or retrogressions, and an October that is about putting dates back on track, November and December start to give us an indication about where things really stand. Almost all Green Cards are still available and you expect solid to strong advancement that early in the year.

Mexico – Latest Visa Bulletin

Final Action

🇲🇽Mexico Visa Bulletin for December 2018

F1Aug 1, 1997NoneFor the 5th month in a row, there was no advancement for F1 in December 2018. 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. Generally, we expect a 3 to 4-week advancement of F1 per month on average, but another month without movement would probably lead us to revise our short-term predictions lower.F1Predictions
F2ASep 22, 2016+3 weeksWith a 3-week advancement, December 2018 is a bit under our predictions of a 4-week advancement per month, but we will take it in a month where we are struggling to find good news for Mexico.F2A Predictions
F2BJun 8, 1997NoneThe lack of advancement in December 2018 is a bit of a surprise following a decent November 2018 and the solid advancement of the last 6 months. Hopefully, this is just a temporary pause.F2B Predictions
F3Dec 22, 1995NoneWith no advancement for a third consecutive month, December 2018 seems to be confirming the worry that USCIS built quite an 'inventory' of applications to be processed during what was a strong Fiscal Year 2018. We should see at least a 2-week advancement per month, but we are not getting it.F3 Predictions
F4Feb 8, 1998NoneThe weak advancement that we noticed in October and November 2018 (+2 and +1 week) came to a halt in December 2018 with no advancement at all. This is as much a surprise as it is a disappointment. We have a prediction of a 2 to 3-week advancement for Fiscal Year 2019, which felt reasonable considering that Fiscal Year 2018 was a weak. Do we need to lower expectations? Let's see what happens in January 2019.F4 Predictions

Philippines – Latest Visa Bulletin

Final Action

🇵🇭Philippines Visa Bulletin for December 2018

F1Feb 15, 2007+2 weeksDecember 2018 is below our expectations of a 4-week advancement per month, and a step back from the +5-week we saw in both October and November 2018. But it seems too early to worry. The dynamic of Fiscal Year 2019 seems more positive than prior years (Fiscal Years 2017 and 2018 saw limited advancement in the first half of the fiscal years, and rapid positive movement in the second half when one would usually expect the opposite).F1 Predictions
F2AOct 8, 2016+3 weeksThe October to December 2018 period is close to our prediction of a 3 to 4-week advancement per month. So far so good for F2A.F2A Predictions
F2BJun 8, 2007+1 weeksThe 1-week advancement in December 2018 (as opposed to our prediction of a a 3 to 4-week advancement per month) is the first sign that the unexpected 9-week advancement that we saw in September 2018 might be having an impact on the inventory of application to be processed. We need to see if the slowdown is confirmed in future months.F2B Predictions
F3Jul 8, 1995+2 weeksDecember 2018 is in line with our predictions of a 2 to 3-week advancement per month in Fiscal Year 2019. That is good news, because after seeing little positive movement in Fiscal Year 2018, October and November 2018 were a bit weak with +1-week and +2-week. F3 Predictions
F4Jul 15, 1995+4 weeksWith a 4-week advancement, December 2018 is the first month of Fiscal Year 2019 in line with our expectations. That is quite reassuring following an underwhelming 1-week advancement in both October and November 2018. It is hopefully a sign that the inventory of applications to be processed built during Fiscal Year 2018 (one of the best years of the last 20 years) can be managed.F4 Predictions

India – Latest F4 Predictions

🇮🇳India F4 Predictions for November 2018

Visa Bulletin Date:Dec 2018
Final Action Date:Jun 8, 2004
Movement:+1 weeks

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20+ Visa Bulletin Timeline


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.

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.

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