July is nearly upon us, and that of course means the Department of State (DOS) has issued the July Visa Bulletin. The availability of United States visas is calibrated through the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) via a delicate calculus. Monthly per-country and per-category visa limitations hinge upon these INA calculations.
Explaining Visa Bulletins
Every immigration case has its own critical dates that determine the petitioner’s ability to obtain a visa. These monthly Visa Bulletins highlight these dates as they evolve. The date on which a case is filed with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), or the Department of Labor (DOL), establishes its priority date, which dictates its initial eligibility.
A case’s priority date works to hold its place in the immigration queue. For a specific case to remain current, its priority must be scheduled before the final action date listed in the current Visa Bulletin. As such, these bulletins serve as important tools for visa applicants.
The monthly bulletins mark those visa categories that are current with a C, which translates to mean there are enough visa numbers within that specific category to accommodate every approved petitioner in that category and from that country of chargeability (country of origin). More simply, if a qualified visa candidate's category for their country of origin is posted with a C, that individual is authorized to be issued that specific type of visa. When a date is listed, instead of a C, petitioners are notified that their priority dates must come before the posted final action date to be authorized for visa issuance. Click here for the June 2018 Visa Bulletin.
Any country not specifically listed in the Visa Bulletin is current across all work visa categories. Vietnam made the Bulletin for the third month running in July, but all relevant categories continue as current.
Let’s get up close and personal with the employment-based (EB) final action dates for July:
China (Mainland Born)
China’s EB dates show some flux.
- For the fourth month in a row, it’s EB-1 date holds at January 1, 2012
- EB-2 date, however, hikes forward four months to January 1, 2015
- EB-3, on the other hand, falls back a full 2 years and 5 months to January 1, 2013 (from June 1, 2015)
- China’s Other Workers Category remains at May 1, 2007
- EB-4 is again current
Mexico and El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras
These countries all remain current in every category except for the EB-4 category.
- The EB-4 for El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras pushes forward nearly four months to February 8, 2016.
- The EB-4 for Mexico was holding at October 22, 2016, but it falls back more than eight months to February 8, 2016.
India sees two bumps in July.
- EB-1 holds at January 1, 2012
- Other Workers category stays at November 1, 2008
- The EB-4 remains current
- EB-2 moves ahead 3 months and 20 days to March 15, 2009
- EB-3 pushes forward six months to November 1, 2008
All categories remain current for the Philippines – except for the EB-3 and Current Workers, which are both holding at January 1, 2017.
Other than the Philippines, every listed country saw changes in July, which is a shift from previous months and may be indicative of more changes to come.
Stay tuned each month for updated Visa Bulletins, as they provide a peek into the machinations of the process and remain a relevant source for immigration news.
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Content in this publication is not intended as legal advice, nor should it be relied on as such. For additional information on the issues discussed, consult a Bridge-affiliated partner attorney or another qualified legal professional.