F4-All Countries: Visa Bulletin Predictions

What is happening with F4-All Countries?

To understand what is happening today with F4-All Countries, we need to take a step back and look at the last ~40 months.

Back in October 2018, the U.S. State Department realized that the ‘response rate’ to the ‘Welcome Letters’ of the National Visa Center (NVC) to Worldwide F4 applicants was very low. In other words, the NVC was sending documents to F4 applicants to get them to assemble and submit documentation to the NVC so that they could be come ‘case complete’ (or ‘documentarily qualified’) and be scheduled for an interview at a U.S. Consulate or Embassy outside the United States.

The problem was that few applicants were acting on these Welcome Letters, and the ‘Visa Office’ which is in charge of the Visa Bulletin became worried about ‘unused’ visa numbers at the end of the year (essentially not fully using the 65,000 visa numbers available under the F4 classification).

That is why they advanced the Final Action Date so much during FY2019, that it became the strongest advancement seen by F4 in the last 20 years.

But of course things eventually change: the Visa Office advanced the date too much, the response rate started picking up and suddenly the situation was no longer tenable. If all the Worldwide F4 documentarily qualified candidates were allowed to schedule Interviews, suddenly the number of F4 Green Cards issued would far exceed the 65,000 annual numerical limit.

That is why we had this massive retrogression in February 2020. It was totally self-inflicted by the Visa Office, which created this situation by not advancing the dates enough in prior years and then overcompensating. But it also set F4-All Countries (and F4-India) on a different trajectory than most other preference categories (such as F1, F2B, and F3): because it was dealing with a backlog of ‘interview-ready’ applicants, the Visa Office did not advance the Visa Bulletin Dates at a rapid pace during the Covid-19 pandemic, and F4 Final Action Dates might be more in line with the reality of the situation than other categories.

The following graph is a good summary of our anlysis. We compared the advancement of the last 3 years (in blue) with what the average advancement of the last 3 years would have been (in green). You can see of fast it started, the retrogression, and how F4 is slowly making its way back to its 20-year average:

How did the Final Action Date move in the past few months?

F4
Latest
Visa Bulletin Date:May 2022
Chargeability:allCountries
Final Action Date:Mar 22, 2007
Movement:None
In February 2020, the Final Action Date of F4-All Countries retrogressed considerably. This was due to a massive miscalculation from the Visa Office of the State Department: they were worried about unused F4 visas (because of a low response rate to the NVC's Welcome Letters), but advanced the VB dates too much, creating a significant backlog of interview-ready applications and forcing them to limit the number of interviews that could take place by retrogressing the F.A.D.

This was terrible, but at least it set wordwide F4 dates on a different trajectory as a lot of other preferences. When the Visa Office kept advancing dates for other preferences (such as F1, F2B, or F3) even when almost no Consular Interviews were taking place, they did not do that for F4 because they knew they already had a backlog of interviews to schedule. In other words, F4- All Countries VB dates better reflect the reality of the current situation than other preferences and, as a result, we are expecting to see these dates move sooner and with more momentum than others.

This hope is strengthened by the fact that F4-Interviews are, according to Immigration Planner's detailed analysis of State Department data, getting to 80%+ pre-pandemic levels. There will however be a price to pay for recent and future applicants in terms of 'time-to-current' because the lost Green Cards of the last 2 years are gone for good and are not coming back.

Predictions for F4 IndiaMexico and the Philippines.


F4
Last Six
Visa Bulletin
Final Action
Movement
May 2022Mar 22, 2007None
Apr 2022Mar 22, 2007None
Mar 2022Mar 22, 2007None
Feb 2022Mar 22, 2007None
Jan 2022Mar 22, 2007None
Dec 2021Mar 22, 2007None

What does Immigration Planner predict?

The key of our short-term prediction is that there will be no ‘forward movement’ for F4-All Countries until at least the summer of 2022, and most likely no movement until the end of fiscal year 2022 in September 2022. Beyond the detailed analysis that we shared, this has been stated numerous times by Charlie Oppenheim, who is the head of the ‘Visa Office’ that makes the decision about the Visa Bulletin (you can listen to him talking about the family preferences in November 2021 at  on this Youtube video).

F4, All Countries – Final Action Dates Predictions for the next two years:

You are going to have to use our web app to get longer terms predictions (which is free, and it takes only a few minutes to get results), but this will give you a sense of where we see things going in the short term –>

Our latest predictions for the Final Action Dates of F4 for 🌐All Countries.
Brothers and sisters (siblings) of U.S. Citizens.

Visa Bulletin
Final Action
Jun 2022Mar 22, 2007
Jul 2022Mar 22, 2007
Aug 2022Mar 22, 2007
Sep 2022Mar 22, 2007
Oct 2022Mar 29, 2007
Nov 2022Apr 5, 2007
Dec 2022Apr 12, 2007
Jan 2023Apr 19, 2007
Feb 2023Apr 26, 2007
Mar 2023May 3, 2007
Apr 2023May 10, 2007
May 2023May 17, 2007
Jun 2023May 24, 2007
Jul 2023May 31, 2007
Aug 2023Jun 7, 2007
Sep 2023Jun 14, 2007
Oct 2023Jun 25, 2007
Nov 2023Jul 6, 2007
Dec 2023Jul 17, 2007
Jan 2024Jul 28, 2007
Feb 2024Aug 8, 2007
Mar 2024Aug 19, 2007
Apr 2024Aug 30, 2007
May 2024Sep 10, 2007
Jun 2024Sep 21, 2007
Jul 2024Oct 2, 2007
Aug 2024Oct 13, 2007
Sep 2024Oct 24, 2007
Oct 2024Nov 5, 2007
Nov 2024Nov 16, 2007
Dec 2024Nov 27, 2007
Jan 2025Dec 8, 2007
Feb 2025Dec 19, 2007
Mar 2025Dec 30, 2007
Apr 2025Jan 10, 2008
May 2025Jan 21, 2008

Don’t see your Priority Date? Want to know when your Interview will take place? Get a detailed, personalized Timeline with Date Predictions for each step.

What can we say about ‘time to current’?

Time to current measures the time it takes an applicant to have their ‘priority date’ current when compared to the ‘final action date’ of the Visa Bulletin. Although not factually correct, time to current is often used by applicants as an estimation of how long it is going to take them to get their Green Card. We also make predictions about time to current for our Green Card dynamic timeline predictions: the process of scheduling a Green Card interview cannot be initiated before the applicant’s date is ‘current’, so it is one of the key ‘anchor’ of the process.

Let’s note that before the pandemic, ‘time to current’ was not heading in the right direction:

The incredibly sad news here is that family Green Cards that were not issued over the last two years are gone forever. They are not coming back for family (they were transferred to ’employment’ based Green Cards). As a result, time to current will go up:

I am going through adjustment of status, what else applies to me?

Applicants going through Adjustment of Status are often allowed to use the ‘Filing Date’ of the Visa Bulletin to determine when they are allowed to file Form I-485. Here is the latest:

Filing Date
Movement
Status
Oct 1, 2007None✔︎ Yes, the Filing Date can be used

When will the Interview be scheduled?

The Green Card Interview can be scheduled when the applicant’s Priority Date is ‘current’ (when compared to the ‘Final Action Date’ of the Visa Bulletin), and the applicant’s case has been declared ‘complete’, or Documentarily Qualified’ (‘DQ’) by the National Visa Center (NVC).

The problem is that Covid-19 has created a backlog of cases waiting for an interview to be scheduled, and F4-Interview are not yet where they used to be pre-pandemic.

There are essentially two drivers of the Final Action Date (F.A.D, or ‘Graph A’):

  1. When visa numbers are available the F.A.D moves forward to allow for  interviews to be scheduled, and Green Cards to be issued
  2. When it gets close to the annual numerical limit, the F.A.D movement slows down (or stops, or even retrogresses as we saw).

Note that only Consular interviews will have a real impact on the number of F4 Green Cards being issued: more than 90% of F4 applicants go through Consular Processing (and have an interview at a U.S. Consulate or Embassy outside the United States, so called ‘posts’), so the small number of F4 applicants going through adjustment of status (and having an interview at a USCIS Field Office) will not matter much.

The following graph is based on U.S. Department of State data. Immigration Planner analyzed thousands of data points corresponding with ‘posts’ operations since October 2018. This enables the aggregation of data coming from more than 150 posts and gives us a precise and unique perspective into what is going on (those who want to see the kind of reports we had to work with can take a look at the original data here).

We all knew this, but it is still remarkable to see how abrupt the drop was: the State Department was issuing more than 7,500 F4-All Countries Green Cards in January 2020; between May and September 2020, it issued less than 100 / month!

We are however doing much better now, especially since the summer and there has been about 4,000 Worldwide F4 Green Cards issued per month for the last 3 months of available data (there is a bit of a lag in the publishing of the data).

Our analysis is that we are about 74% of the way back in terms of processing:

When talking to other applicants, also make sure that you are not comparing yourself with ‘immediate relatives’ of U.S. Citizens. Clear priority was given by the State Department to immediate relatives, so their situation is generally much better and their wait much shorter. If you want to assess the wait at your U.S. Embassy or Consulate, see what is happening with applicants in the F4 category there. If you do not know F4 applicants, see what happens to other ‘preference’ applicants (that are not F2A) such as F1, F2B, F3 and/or join the Immigration Planner Facebook group where updates about consulates are shared on a regular basis.


When will Immigration Planner update its predictions?

We expect to update our predictions the day after the next Visa Bulletin is released. Our best guess as to when we will update these predictions is as follows:

Jun 23, 2022


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