Family Visa Bulletin:
February 2020 Analysis & Predictions

All Countries | Mexico | Philippines | India F4

March 2020 Predictions

All Countries – February 2020 Visa Bulletin

Preference
Final Action
Movement
Remark

🌐All Countries Visa Bulletin for February 2020

F1Aug 22, 2013+5 weeksAnother strong month in February 2020, in line with what the Visa Office indicated as part of the January VB (short-term movement was going to be 'up to 6 weeks'). After the 26-week advancement we saw in September 2019, and more generally the very strong second half of Fiscal Year 2019, we were very worried about potential retrogressions at the beginning of Fiscal Year 2020.F1 Predictions
F2AFeb 1, 2020+4 weeksFor the 8th month in a row, F2A is 'current' for all countries of chargeability, but this situation will end soon, and anybody who can take advantage of the situation should. Documentarily qualified candidates going through Consular Processing may hope for faster interviews. 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). The Visa Office indicated as part of the January VB that the 'current' situation will end in the 'next few months' (we predict March 2020).F2A Predictions
F2BAug 22, 2014+2 weeksA bit of a slowdown confirmed. Fiscal Year 2019 was by far the best of the last 20 years and allowed F2B to catch up with its 10-year historical trend. The Visa Office indicated as part of the January VB that the short-term movement was going to be 'up to 3 weeks' (from up to 6-weeks earlier).F2B Predictions
F3Nov 22, 2007+1 weeksThis is confirmation that advancement is slowing down. We have to go all the way back to 2007 to find a year that has been as good for F3 - All Countries, as FY2019 has been. 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, so it will be slower advancement), and February 2020 is certainly confirming it.F3 Predictions
F4Jul 1, 2006-30 weeksThe dreaded retrogression is here. The Visa Office is talking about a 'dramatic increase' in F4 applications in recent months to explain the retrogression. Was it too good to be true? Fiscal Year 2019 had been the best of the last 20 years for F4 - All Countries. The advancement had picked up considerably in February 2019 and had been strong ever since. Immigration Planner is in the process of updating its predictions.F4 Predictions

Latest

So, what is going on?

USCIS Fiscal Year ends in September (not in December), so February 2020 is the fifth month of the new year for U.S. Immigration agencies. While the first month usually still deals with ‘technical adjustments’ (such as eliminating end-of-year retrogression), the second and third months are starting to set the tone for the year. Especially for Mexico, the Philippines, and F4-India where we do not have any ‘guidance’ from the Visa Office.

Build your Family Green Card Timeline based on your Immigration Category, Country of Birth, and Priority Date (Free & No Sign-Up Required).

Mexico – February 2020 Visa Bulletin

Preference
Final Action
Movement
Remark

🇲🇽Mexico Visa Bulletin for February 2020

F1Aug 22, 1997+2 weeksFinally a sign of life in February 2020. 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
F2AFeb 1, 2020+4 weeksFor the 8th month in a row, F2A is 'current' for all countries of chargeability, but this situation will end soon, and anybody who can take advantage of the situation should. Documentarily qualified candidates going through Consular Processing may hope for faster interviews. 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).F2A Predictions
F2BSep 15, 1998+3 weeksAfter a two-month pause in Dec '19 and Jan '20, Feb '20 is showing advancement again. Fiscal Year 2019 has been the best of the last 20 years for F2B - Mexico, and we had a good start of Fiscal Year 2020 with a solid advancement in both October and November 2019. Times are generally still better for F2B-Mexico as 5 of the last 6 years (2016 being the exception) having been above average.F2B Predictions
F3Mar 22, 1996+3 weeksFiscal Year 2019 was a year to forget, and there is early indication that Fiscal Year 2020 will be similarly disappointing. Obviously the advancement of Fiscal Year 2018 created enough applications that were 'interview-ready' for the entirety of the year. It was great news to see the 11-week advancement in October 2019 that put us back where we were before retrogressions. But there was no advancement in November or December 2019, and January 2020 is limited to one week.F3 Predictions
F4Jan 15, 1998+1 weeksEven if the 'technical retrogression' from July to September 2019 is over, Fiscal Year 2020 did not start well. January 2020 and February 2020 are good news though. Generally, F4 has been slower these last 10 years and it has not looked so far that Fiscal Year 2020 will change that, but this is a positive sign.F4 Predictions

Philippines – February 2020 Visa Bulletin

Preference
Final Action
Movement
Remark

🇵🇭Philippines Visa Bulletin for February 2020

F1 Apr 1, 2009+10 weeksFiscal Year 2019 has been quite an erratic year for F1 - Philippines. After a slow start, we saw a big jump and we were certainly worried about the beginning of Fiscal Year 2020. But the period from Nov '19 to Feb '20 alleviated fears of retrogression with unexpected strong advancement.F1 Predictions
F2AFeb 1, 2020+4 weeksFor the 8th month in a row, F2A is 'current' for all countries of chargeability, but this situation will end soon, and anybody who can take advantage of the situation should. Documentarily qualified candidates going through Consular Processing may hope for faster interviews. 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).F2A Predictions
F2BMay 1, 2009+12 weeksAfter a Fiscal Year 2019 that has been one of the best years of the last 20 years, F2B - Philippines is starting Fiscal Year 2020 with solid to strong advancement since October 2019. And now another jump in Feb '20. To be taken advantage of, because we know what's coming...F2B Predictions
F3May 1, 1999+17 weeksF3 - Philippines continues its rapid advancement in this beginning of Fiscal Year 2020 with 8-week advancement in both Oct and Nov '19, 13-week in Dec '19, and now 17-week in both Jan '20 and Feb '20. It looks like the quest for documentarily qualified candidates continues... An unsual situation for sure.F3 Predictions
F4Jul 1, 1999+17 weeksAfter a Fiscal Year 2019 that has been spectacular, it is good news to have such a strong advancement in November and December 2019, and now January and February 2020. The State Department is not getting enough candidates...F4 Predictions

India – February 2020 Visa Bulletin

Preference
Final Action
Movement
Remark

🇮🇳India Visa Bulletin for February 2020

F4Nov 22, 2004+2 weeksThere is no denying that Fiscal Year 2019 has been disappointing for F4 - India. It has been one of the worst years of the last 20 years, and it follows a below - average 2018 and a dismal 2017. Even if we have seen below average advancement since April 2018, we do not necessarily see meaningful improvement in the coming months as F4 - India is still trending above its 10-year historical line. The limited advancement since Oct 2019 seems to be confirming this fear.F4 Predictions

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Your key dates based on Immigration Planner’s prediction model & Feedback from member of our community & Latest USCIS and NVC processing times.

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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.

Immigration Planner: Forms and Status

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How to file perfect USCIS forms for your family-based Green Card.

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6 important steps to complete, latest news and updates, and FAQ.

FAQ, tips and details about NVC steps and how to do accomplish this online.

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Latest USCIS I-485 ‘Processing Times’ and ‘Case Inquiry Dates’, historical trends and analysis.

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