The Visa Bulletin: What’s New for January 2018


Final Action Date Updates in Each Immigration Category

Dec 26, 2017

The U.S. Department of State recently released its Visa Bulletin for January 2018. That’s a big deal if you’re waiting for your priority date to be current so that your green card application can move forward.

If you don’t know what a “visa bulletin” or a “priority date” is, never fear — you’re a normal human being and we’ve got you covered. Start by checking out the Boundless guide on How to Read the Visa Bulletin.

Now let’s continue…

The Bottom Line

The January 2018 Visa Bulletin brings some modest movement in wait times for both the family-based (“FB”) and employment-based (“EB”) green card categories.

The biggest (and worst) news in this month’s visa bulletin is for would-be green card applicants from the Philippines: After their waiting lines moved backwards (“retrogression”) last month by six months for adult children of U.S. green card holders, and two whole years for adult children of U.S. citizens, there’s little to no relief this month.

(Wonky technical note: This post focuses on the “final action dates” in the visa bulletin, since these dates are most relevant for figuring out when applicants will ultimately receive their green cards.)

Read on for details…

Family-Based Green Card Backlogs

F-1: unmarried adults (age 21 and older) who are children of U.S. citizens

This month’s visa bulletin shows modest forward movement in the F-1 category, but no good news for those from the Philippines —after moving backwards by two whole years in the last visa bulletin, there’s no change this month:

  • The cut-off dates for the general category, China, and India advanced by 90 days (now March 15, 2011).
  • One-month advance for for Mexico (now May 1, 1996).
  • No change for the Philippines (still January 1, 2005).

F-2A: spouses and unmarried children (under age 21) of U.S. green card holders

There is some meaningful forward movement in the F-2A category this month:

  • Five-week advance in cut-off date for the general category, China, India, and the Philippines (now February 1, 2016).
  • Six-week advance for Mexico (now January 1, 2016).

F-2B: unmarried children (age 21 or more) of U.S. green card holders

This month’s visa bulletin shows modest forward movement for some categories, but again, no good news for those from the Philippines —after moving backwards by six months in the last visa bulletin, there’s no change this month:

  • One-week advance in the cut-off dates for the general category, China, and India (now December 1, 2010).
  • Three-week advance for Mexico (now August 15, 1996).
  • No change for the Philippines (still July 1, 2006).

F-3: married children of U.S. citizens

Advancement in the F-3 category moves at a slow but steady pace:

  • One-month advance in the cut-off dates for the general category, China, and India (now October 8, 2005).
  • Three-week advance in the cut-off date for Mexico (now June 15, 1995).
  • One-week advance for the Philippines (now March 15, 1995).

F-4: siblings of U.S. citizens

Some meaningful movement in the F-4 category:

  • Two-week advance in the cut-off date for the general category and China (now June 22, 2004).
  • Three-week advance for India advances by one month (now December 15, 2003).
  • Three-week advance for Mexico (now November 1, 1997).
  • One-month advance for the Philippines (now September 1, 1994).

Employment-Based Green Card Backlogs

EB-1: extraordinary people, outstanding researchers and professors, and multinational executives and managers

This category remains current across all countries. Come and get your green cards!

EB-2: exceptional people and advanced degree holders

The EB-2 category remains current for the general category, Central America, Mexico, and the Philippines, with small but steady advancements for China and India:

  • Dates are current for the general category, Central America, Mexico, and the Philippines. No wait here!
  • Five-week advance for China (now August 8, 2013).
  • Three-week advance for India (now November 22, 2008).

EB-3: bachelor’s degree holders, skilled workers, and unskilled workers

Good news depending on country:

  • Dates remains current for the general category, Central America, and Mexico (no wait — celebrate!).
  • Five-week advance for China (now April 15, 2014).
  • Two-week advance for India (now November 1, 2006).
  • One-month advance for the Philippines (now February 15, 2016).

Finally, just to be complete about all of this: The cut-off date for EB-4 “special immigrants” advanced three weeks for Central America (now December 1, 2015) and advanced five weeks for Mexico (now June 1, 2016), and is current for everyone else. And there’s no wait time for EB-5 investors except those from China, whose cut-off date advanced by one week (now July 22, 2014).

Why This Matters

If you are an applicant in line for a green card, it’s important to keep track of actual changes in the visa bulletin, and also likely future changes. It’s always a good idea to prepare all the documents needed for your green card application ahead of time, and be ready to file as quickly as possible once the visa bulletin shows that a green card is available to you. By failing to file in a month when a green card is available, you risk facing a surprise backward movement (“retrogression”) in the next visa bulletin, which would close your window of opportunity for filing a green card application.

Stay tuned for next month’s visa bulletin! As always, we’ll highlight all the important changes for you. In the meantime, enjoy this video of a baby tortoise attempting to eat a strawberry