The Visa Bulletin: What’s New for October 2017?


Final Action Date Updates in Each Immigration Category

Nov 21, 2017

The U.S. Department of State recently released its Visa Bulletin for October 2017. 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. This post focuses on the “final action dates” charts in the visa bulletin, as those dates are most relevant to when applicants will ultimately receive their green card.

First, check out the Boundless guide on How to Read the Visa Bulletin. Then read on for the latest news…

Social security card and green card on an American flag

The Bottom Line

Last month there was bad news in the visa bulletin for the family-based (“F”) green card categories: retrogression of cut-off dates (in other words, backwards movement and longer wait times).

But this month…Happy Fiscal New Year! The federal government’s visa clock resets in October, so the dates for both categories (F-1 and F-4) that moved backwards in September have now returned to the dates released in the August 2017 Visa Bulletin.

The October 2017 Visa Bulletin doesn’t show very much movement in wait times for the employment-based (“EB”) green card categories, except for EB-3 China which advanced significantly—by two years!

The new visa bulletin also includes State Department predictions for new movement in each category during the months ahead (through January 2018), and the news is generally good. Read on for details…

Family-Based Green Card Backlogs

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

The State Department expects the cut-off dates for the F-1 general category to move forward by several months in each visa bulletin through January 2018. This is great news! Especially since this category experienced backwards movement in last month’s visa bulletin.

  • The cut-off dates for the general category, China, and India returned to the dates before the retrogression experienced in last month’s visa bulletin (now December 22, 2010).
  • One-month advance in the cut-off date for Mexico (now March 1, 1996).
  • No change for the Philippines (still January 1, 2007).

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

The State Department expects the cut-off dates for the F-2A general category to move forward by up to one month in each visa bulletin through January 2018. For now:

  • Three-week advance in cut-off date for the general category, China, India, and the Philippines (now October 22, 2015).
  • Three-week advance for Mexico (now October 15, 2015).

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

The State Department expects the cut-off dates for the F-2B general category to move forward by up to one month in each visa bulletin through January 2018. For now:

  • One-week advance in the cut-off dates for the general category, China, and India (now November 8, 2010).
  • Two-week advance in the cut-off date for Mexico (now July 15, 1996).
  • No change for the Philippines (still January 1, 2007).

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

The State Department expects the cut-off dates for the F-3 general category to move forward by up to three or four weeks in each visa bulletin through January 2018. For now:

  • Two-week advance in the cut-off dates for the general category, China, and India (now July 22, 2005).
  • Two-week advance in the cut-off date for Mexico (now April 22, 1995).
  • One-week advance for the Philippines (now February 22, 1995).

F-4: siblings of U.S. citizens

The cut-off dates in the general category and China have returned to what they were before the backwards movement (“retrogression”) in last month’s visa bulletin.

The State Department expects the cut-off dates for the F-4 general category to move forward by up to two or three weeks in each visa bulletin through January 2018. For now:

  • The cut-off dates for the general category and China return to pre-retrogression dates (now May 08, 2004).
  • The cut-off date for India advances by one week past the pre-retrogression date (now October 1, 2003).
  • Two-week advance in the cut-off date for Mexico (now October 1, 1997).
  • No change for the Philippines (now June 1, 1994).

Employment-Based Green Card Backlogs

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

This category is now current across all countries, and the State Department expects EB-1 to remain current through January 2018. That means no wait time. Come and get your green cards!

EB-2: exceptional people and advanced degree holders

The State Department expects EB-2 to remain current in the general category through January 2018, while cut-off dates for EB-2 China and EB-2 India are expected to move forward by up to one month in each visa bulletin through January 2018. For now:

  • Dates are current for the general category, Central America, Mexico, and the Philippines. No wait here!
  • One-week advance for China (now May 22, 2013).
  • Three-week advance for India (now September 15, 2008).

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

The State Department expects EB-3 to remain current in the general category and for Mexico through January 2018.

The cut-off date for EB-3 China is expected to move forward by up to four months in each visa bulletin through January 2018, and up to two months per bulletin for EB-3 Philippines. “Limited forward movement” is predicted for EB-3 India dates during this period. For now:

  • The visa bulletin remains current for the general category, Central America, and Mexico (no wait—celebrate!).
  • The cut-off date for China surges ahead by two years (now January 1, 2014))
  • No change for India (still October 15, 2006).
  • One-month advance for the Philippines (now December 1, 2015). Act now!Finally, just to be complete about all of this: The cut-off dates for EB-4 “special immigrants” advanced by five weeks for Central America, India, and Mexico (now October 22, 2015), and is current for everyone else. EB-4 India is expected to not have a wait time starting October. And there’s no wait time for EB-5 investors except those from China, whose cut-off date remains the same (still June 15, 2014).

Finally, just to be complete about all of this: The cut-off date for EB-4 “special immigrants” advanced by two weeks for Central America (now November 1, 2015) and about four months for Mexico (now March 01, 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 a week (now June 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 predicted 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 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 the world’s smallest monkey (and her teeny-tiny twin babies)…