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Visa Bulletin FAQs: A Quick Guide to Tracking Green Card Availability

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What is a Visa Bulletin?

A Visa Bulletin is a monthly publication from the U.S. Department of State that provides information on the availability of immigrant visa numbers. It lists the cut-off dates for various family-based, employment-based, and diversity visa green card categories according to the priority date.

What is a Priority Date?

A Priority Date is the date when a person or employer files an immigrant visa petition with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). It determines the person’s place in the queue to wait for the availability of a visa number.

What is the purpose of the Visa Bulletin?

The purpose of the Visa Bulletin is to inform immigrants and their families about the waiting time for their visa category based on their priority date, and to prevent the issuance of more visas than are authorized by law.

What is the difference between “Final Action Date” and “Dates for Filing” on the Visa Bulletin?

“Final Action Date” means that the immigrant visa numbers are available for individuals whose priority dates are earlier than the listed date. “Dates for Filing” means that immigrants can submit their applications for adjustment of status or immigrant visas, but not necessarily receive them until the “Final Action Date” becomes current.

How often is the Visa Bulletin updated?

The Visa Bulletin is updated every month. The new bulletin is typically released around the 15th of each month for the upcoming month.

What is the significance of the Visa Bulletin “Cutoff Date”?

The Cutoff Date is the date that determines whether or not an individual is eligible to apply for an immigrant visa or adjust status. If the applicant’s priority date is earlier than the cutoff date in their visa category, they can proceed with their application.

How do I know what my priority date is?

Your priority date is shown on the approval notice that you received when you or your employer filed a petition with USCIS.

What happens if my priority date is later than the Final Action Date?

If your priority date is later than the Final Action Date listed on the Visa Bulletin, you will have to wait until the date becomes current to apply for an immigrant visa or adjust status.

Can I check the Visa Bulletin online?

Yes, the current and historical Visa Bulletins are available online on the Department of State Visa Bulletin page at  https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/legal/visa-law0/visa-bulletin.html.   They are typically updated in the middle of each month.

This article is provided as an educational service and is not legal advice. Consult with an attorney for your specific circumstances.  For a comprehensive evaluation of your immigration situation and options, you are invited to call us at 214-393-4917  text us using our chat box, or complete our contact form.

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