The United States Department of State (DOS) has already published May’s Visa Bulletin, providing us a look ahead at what's in store for visa availability in the U.S. next month. The availability fluctuates according to a carefully-calibrated calculation system that’s determined by the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA). Per-country and per-category visa limitations are predicated on these calculations.
What to Look For in the Visa Bulletin
Every immigration case has its own critical dates that determine the petitioner’s ability to obtain a visa. The 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 before the final action date listed in the current Visa Bulletin. As such, these bulletins serve as important tools for visa hopefuls.
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.
Employment Visas: May Movement
For the eighth month in a row, every country not specifically listed in the Visa Bulletin remains current in each category. While Vietnam specifically made May’s Bulletin, all its relevant visa categories are current. In a continuing trend, May has few visa surprises.
While movement is slow, however, there are some changes that are worth noting:
China (Mainland Born)
For the second month in a row, China’s EB-1 date remains at January 1, 2012; the EB-2 advances a full month to September 1, 2014, the EB-3 remains at June 1, 2015; and the Other Workers category gains another month and lands at May 1, 2007. Finally, the EB-4 remains current.
Mexico and El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras
Mexico and El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras are holding steady with all visa categories except EB-4. El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras remain at December 15, 2015 for the EB-4, and Mexico’s EB-4 gained another two and a half months at October 22, 2016.
Once again, India sees some action in May. While its EB-1 and EB-2 remain at January 1, 2012, and December 22, 2008, respectively, the EB-3 and Other Workers category saw another significant bump of three months at May 1, 2008. The EB-4 remains current.
The Philippines see no movement for May. All categories remain current except for the EB-3 and the Other Workers category, which hold at January 1, 2017.
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.