Your Green Card Timeline, Personalized
Your key dates based on...
- Immigration Planner's Visa Bulletin Predictions;
- Feedback from member of our community;
- Latest USCIS and NVC Processing Times.
What is the link between CSPA and the Visa Bulletin?
In a CSPA computation, the biological age of the F2A-child and the derivative children on F1, F2B, F3, F4 petitions is determined the month the Priority Date of the applicant becomes 'current' when compared to the Final Action Date of the Visa Bulletin.
Let's illustrate with an example:
- The derivative applicant Naima was born January 1st 2000
- Naima is a derivative applicant on a petition with a priority date that became 'current' when compared to the filing date of the Visa Bulletin in the January 2020, Visa Bulletin
- Naima's priority date became 'current' when compared to the final action date of the Visa Bulletin in the January 2022 Visa Bulletin
- --> the biological age of Naima for the purposes of a CSPA computation is 22 years because it is determined the 1st of the month when her priority date became 'current' when compared to the relevant final action date of the Visa Bulletin
Then, the time the I-130 was pending (that is the time that elapsed between the priority date and the I-130 approval date) can be subtracted from Naima's biological age. If the 'CSPA age' that is equal to 'biological age' minus 'time the I-130 was pending' is less than 21 years old, then the derivative applicant is 'CSPA protected'.
What is the link between the 'Filing Date' of the Visa Bulletin and my family Green Card timeline?
Filing Date & Final Action Date
The U.S. Department of State says that filing dates are going to become final action dates within 9 to 12 months. But the reality is very different. Immigration Planner analysed the number of times the filing date became the final action date with 9 and 12 months since it was created in October 2016.
If we exclude F2A, a category for which this computation does not make as much sense since it has been 'current' for quite a while now, the best performance is achieved by F1.
But even for F1, the filing date became the final action date within 12 months only 61% of the time, which is quite low and not what we were promised when the filing date was created.
Filing Date & Adjustment of status
The filing date of the family visa bulletin determines when applicants going through adjustment of status and not eligible for concurrent filing can file their Green Card application through form I-485.
In other words, most applicants going through adjustment of status in the United States do so through 'concurrent filing', where forms I-130 and I-485 are filed with USCIS at the same time, and the filing date does not apply to such applicants. At the same time, F2A has been 'current' for a while and that is making F2A applicants eligible for concurrent filing as well.
But other applicants under a preference classification such as F1, F2B, F3, F4, and who are able to maintain legal status in the United States for extended periods of time (for F1 students who then get H1Bs), the filing date determines when they are allowed to file form I-485.
Filing Date & Consular processing
The filing date of the family visa bulletin give applicants going through consular processing an indication as to when they can expect their 'Welcome Letter' from the National Visa Center (NVC).
In consular processing, you just cannot submit your application to the NVC, just like adjustment applicants do with USCIS by sending form I-485. In other words, the NVC still gets to decide when applicants can submit their application because they are the ones sending the Welcome Letter and applicants must have a Welcome Letter to file.
That being said, the filing date is acting as a 'latest date' protection for consular applicants: the latest applicants are going to be receiving their Welcome Letter is when their priority date becomes 'current' when compared to the filing date.
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):
Applicant's Marital Status
|Green Card Holder||Spouse||Married||20- or 21+||F2A|
|Green Card Holder||Child||Married||20- or 21+||F2B|
|Green Card Holder||Child||Not Married||20-||F2A|
|Green Card Holder||Child||Not Married||21+||F2B|
|U.S. Citizen||Child||Not Married||20- or 21+||F1|
|U.S. Citizen||Child||Married||20- or 21+||F3|
|U.S. Citizen||Sibling||Married or Not Married||20- 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:
Change in Marital Status
Sponsor becomes a U.S. Citizen
|F2A Child||Applicant gets married||-||-||F2B|
|F2A Child||-||Applicant turns 21 and is not CSPA protected||-||F2B|
|F2A Child or Spouse||Sponsor becomes a USC||Immediate Relative Child or Spouse|
|F2B||-||-||Sponsor becomes a USC||F1 ('opt-out' possible)|
|F1||Applicant gets married||-||-||F3|
|F3||Applicant 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:
- Maintaining your eligibility to your Green Card category. Things might for instance change if you get married!
- For applicants living in the United States, maintaining your eligibility to the adjustment of status process
- Establishing if you will need a waiver, and getting ready if you do
- Anticipate if there is a risk for your children to ‘age-out’ and whether the Child Status Protection Act (CSPA) might protect them
- Anticipate whether the sponsor becoming a U.S Citizen could be favorable, or would lead you to ‘opt-out’ of your new immigration category
- 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.
Smart USCIS Forms: Your Family Green Card Case done right, free- no catch (I130/A, I485, I765, I131, and Medical Form & Affidavit of Support).
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FAQ, tips and details about NVC steps and how to do accomplish this online.