Memphis immigration lawyer Ari Sauer provides news and information on US immigration law.
By Ari Sauer, immigration lawyer with the Memphis, Tennessee office of the Siskind Susser immigration law firm.
The Department of State Visa Bulletin, which is issued each month, shows when an immigrant visa is available for your
immigrant visa petition (Forms I-130, I-140, I-360) or under the Diversity Visa Lottery. Congress has set a limit on the number of immigrant visas (green cards) issued each year. Often there are more beneficiaries of immigrant visa petitions each year than there are available visas, which results in a backlog. The available visas are allotted based on a preference category system. Each preference category is allotted a specific percentage or number of visas from the total number of visas to be issued that year, which is why some preference categories have a longer wait for a visa than others. Furthermore, no country is allowed to receive more than 7% of the total number of visas issued in a preference category for that year, which creates a longer wait for those countries that hit that 7% cap. Currently the countries affected by this are China, India, Mexico and the Philippines.
The Visa Bulletin consists of three charts: family-based immigrant visas (F1, F2A, F2B, F3, and F4); employment-based immigrant visas (EB1, EB2, EB3, EB4 and EB5); and diversity (DV) visas. I will explain the family and employment-based charts, and save the discussion about diversity visas for another time. The family-based chart is split into 5 rows representing the four preference categories (The second preference category is split into two subcategories). Immediate Relatives (spouses and unmarried children under 21 of US citizens) are not listed on the chart because there is no limit to the number of visas to be issued to Immediate Relatives. Once you have found your preference category, find the corresponding column for your country of nationality (usually your country of birth) or your spouse’s country of birth if they are immigrating with you. The date within the box shows the priority date for which a visa is available. If your petition’s priority date is earlier than the date listed on the Visa Bulletin, then a visa will become available for your petition as of the 1st of the month listed at the top of the Visa Bulletin.
The employment-based chart is read the same way. It has nine rows each for a different preference category. The employment-based chart will sometimes have a letter listed instead of a date. The letter “C” shows that this category is Current, meaning there is no backlog and a visa is available. The letter “U” shows that this category is Unavailable, meaning all visas for this category have been used until October.
Derivatives beneficiary spouses and children are included in the preference category of the primary beneficiary.
The DOS calculates the Visa Bulletin based upon the number of approved immigrant visa petitions issued by USCIS and an estimate of the number of beneficiaries that will be applying for visas based on the approved petitions. This is an imperfect system, as the DOS can only guess at how many family members will be applying for a visa along with each of the primary beneficiaries. They also do not know how many people have approved petitions but will not be applying for a visa because they are not eligible, have received a visa based on another petition, or have decided not to come to the US. This means that it is very difficult to predict how the Visa Bulletin will move and how long it will take for a visa to become available for a particular petition. Sometimes DOS will realize that they have moved the visa numbers to far ahead of where they should be and that there are not enough visas available to grant visas to all beneficiaries for the priority dates they have listed. This will result in the DOS retrogressing, or moving back, the listed priority date in the following month’s Visa Bulletin. Sometimes all visas for the year in a particular category will have been used before the end of the fiscal year, which will result in a visa becoming unavailable until October when the new fiscal year starts and new visas become available.
So unfortunately there is no way to predict how long it will take for a visa to become available for your petition.
If you would like to discuss your particular case with me or you would like my assistance with your visa or green card application, you can schedule a consultation appointment with me by calling 1-800-343-4890 or 901-682-6455.
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Last updated January 8, 2013.
* This is an advertisement. Ari Sauer is a Memphis immigration lawyer with the Siskind Susser law firm. www.visalaw.com/ari.html. On this blog we answer questions as a service to our readers, but we cannot assume any liability related to reliance on anything herein, and responses to questions are not intended to establish an attorney-client relationship. Immigration laws and regulations are constantly changing and the rules stated may not apply to your situation. Readers are cautioned to schedule a consultation with an immigration lawyer before acting on anything stated in this blog. This blog is not intended to substitute for a consultation with a qualified immigration law attorney. Ari Sauer is licensed to practice law through the states of Tennessee, New York and New Jersey but is eligible to assist clients from throughout the US. Certification as an Immigration Specialist is not currently available in Tennessee, New York or New Jersey. Siskind Susser limits its practice strictly to immigration law, a Federal practice area, and we do not claim expertise in the laws of states other than where our attorneys are licensed.