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.
Each monthly Visa Bulletin represents a snapshot of visa availability in the United States. With immigration reform being a hotly contested topic these days, the monthly Visa Bulletins are perhaps more important than they’ve ever been. Click here for the June 2018 Visa Bulletin.
What to Look For
Every visa petitioner’s case has attendant critical dates that determine if and/or when the visa hopeful will be issued a visa. The timeline associated with this determination continually evolves, and this evolution is reflected in the monthly Visa Bulletin. The initial eligibility of each immigration case is determined by its filing date with either the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) or DOL, and this filing date is known as its priority date.
In the waiting line for work visas, this priority date serves as a placeholder for the case. A visa petition’s priority date must come before the final action date that’s listed in the current Visa Bulletin to remain current. As such, each updated Visa Bulletin forwards critical information related to every visa hopeful’s ability to obtain a work visa.
If a visa category in the Visa Bulletin is marked with a C for current, there are enough visas currently available for every approved visa petition within that category – for that specific country of chargeability (or country of origin). If a qualified petitioner finds a C under his or her visa category and country of origin, that petitioner is qualified to obtain that visa. If a visa hopeful finds a date listed in the Bulletin – instead of a C – the petitioner’s priority date must come before the Bulletin’s posted final action date to qualify for the visa.
Employment Visas: Changes in July
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; its EB-2 date, however, hikes forward four months to January 1, 2015; its 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; and it’s 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. While the EB-1 holds at January 1, 2012, the Other Workers category stays at November 1, 2008, and the EB-4 remains current, its EB-2 moves ahead 3 months and 20 days to March 15, 2009, and its 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.
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Disclaimer: This content is not a form of legal advice and should not be treated as a substitute for legal counsel. Bridge US encourages readers to discuss any and all immigration-related concerns with an attorney.