Family Visa Bulletin:
Analysis and Predictions

All Countries | Mexico | Philippines

All Countries – Latest Visa Bulletin

Preference
Final Action
Movement
Remark

🌐All Countries Visa Bulletin for October 2018

F1Jun 1, 2011+7 weeksIn October 2018, F1 - All Countries started Fiscal Year 2019 (October 2018 to September 2019) with a solid 7-week advancement which more than compensate for the regression we saw in September 2018.F1 Full Analysis
F2AAug 22, 2016+4 weeksIn October 2018, F2A - All Countries started Fiscal Year 2019 (October 2018 to September 2019) with a solid 4-week advancement. As we had hoped, the lack of movement we saw in September 2018 was just a way to temporarily manage the number of Green Cards issued.F2A Full Analysis
F2BNov 22, 2011+3 weeksIn October 2018, F2B - All Countries started Fiscal Year 2019 (October 2018 to September 2019) with a 3-week advancement. This is a good sign after what has been a very strong last 6 months.F2B Full Analysis
F3Jun 15, 2006+6 weeksIn October 2018, F3 - All Countries started Fiscal Year 2019 (October 2018 to September 2019) with a 6-week advancement, which almost compensates for the 7-week regression we saw in September 2018. Considering that Fiscal Year 2018 (October 2017 to September 2018) was one of the strongest of the last 20 years, this is a good start.F3 Full Analysis
F4Feb 15, 2005+5 weeksIn October 2018, F4 - All Countries started Fiscal Year 2019 (October 2018 to September 2019) with a stronger than expected 5-week advancement. We certainly hope that this is a good sign for the months to come.F4 Prediction Full Analysis

Latest

What is special about October 2018 for the Visa Bulletin?

The U.S. Government Fiscal Year does not start in January, but in October. Being the first month of the Fiscal Year, all Green Cards are available. U.S. immigration agencies are no longer concerned about going over annual numerical limits like they were in September 2018. As a result, we are generally seeing positive movement forward in all preferences and countries of chargeability, except F1 – Mexico and F3 – Mexico.

Overall, the advancement is solid to strong, compensating any regression we might have seen in September 2018 (a regression is an easy way to delay interviews on cases that are actually ‘documentarily qualified’, so that Green Card issuance can be delayed).

Also, it is generally easier to be ‘generous’ with advancement early in a Fiscal Year. U.S. immigration agencies are actually asked to schedule most Interviews earlier in the Fiscal Year to ensure that all the available Green Cards are used.

Mexico – Latest Visa Bulletin

Preference
Final Action
Movement
Remark

🇲🇽Mexico Visa Bulletin for October 2018

F1Aug 1, 1997NoneIn October 2018, F1-Mexico started Fiscal Year 2019 (October 2018 to September 2019) with no movement. This is obviously disappointing. It seems like the huge jump we saw from May 2018 to July 2018 (+45 weeks in 3 months) created an 'inventory' of Green Card applications that U.S. immigration agencies are still processing.Full Analysis
F2AJul 1, 2016NoneIn October 2018, F2A-Mexico started Fiscal Year 2019 (October 2018 to September 2019) with a 4-week advancement, in line with expectations. As we had hoped, the lack of movement we saw in September 2018 was just a way to temporarily manage the number of Green Cards issued.Full Analysis
F2BApr 22, 1997+3 weeksIn October 2018, F2B-Mexico started Fiscal Year 2019 (October 2018 to September 2019) with a 3-week advancement, in line with expectations and the solid advancement of the last 6 months.Full Analysis
F3Dec 22, 1995+3 weeksIn October 2018, F3-Mexico started Fiscal Year 2019 (October 2018 to September 2019) with no advancement, which is obviously a disappointment.Full Analysis
F4Jan 15, 1998NoneIn October 2018, F4-Mexico started Fiscal Year 2019 (October 2018 to September 2019) with a 1-week advancement, in line with expectations.Full Analysis

Philippines – Latest Visa Bulletin

Preference
Final Action
Movement
Remark

🇵🇭Phillippines Visa Bulletin for October 2018

F1Nov 15, 2006+15 weeksIn October 2018, F1-Philippines started Fiscal Year 2019 (October 2018 to September 2019) with a 5-week advancement, slightly above expectation.Full Analysis
F2AJul 22, 2016NoneIn October 2018, F2A-Philippines started Fiscal Year 2019 (October 2018 to September 2019) with a 4-week advancement, in line with expectations.Full Analysis
F2BApr 22, 2007+9 weeksIn October 2018, F3-Philippines started Fiscal Year 2019 (October 2018 to September 2019) with a 3-week advancement, slightly below expectations.Full Analysis
F3Jun 1, 1995+4 weeksIn October 2018, F3-Philippines started Fiscal Year 2019 (October 2018 to September 2019) with a 1-week advancement, slightly below expectations.Full Analysis
F4Jun 1, 1995+5 weeksIn October 2018, F4-Philippines started Fiscal Year 2019 (October 2018 to September 2019) with a 1-week advancement, substantially lower than expected. Hopefully this is a temporary setback and stronger positive advancement will materialize starting in November 2018.Full Analysis

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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.

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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Posted by Immigration Planner on Friday, March 23, 2018

Related Resources

Time to use the new I-485

After August 25th, 2017, requests to adjust status (form I-485) will be rejected by USCIS unless the latest version of the form is used.

New Processing Time
What is a priority date?

The priority date of the applicant is the date when U.S. immigration agencies received the form I-130 submitted by the sponsor on behalf of the...

Priority date
What is the final action date?

The final action date is when family-based green card applicants who are not immediate relatives can either file their request to adjust status (from within...

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