The Visa Bulletin: What’s New for April 2018


Understanding the green card waiting lists as of April 2018

Mar 20, 2018

The U.S. Department of State recently released its Visa Bulletin for April 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 April 2018 Visa Bulletin brings some new movement in wait times for both the family-based (“FB”) and employment-based (“EB”) green card categories. Here are the key developments:

  • The big winners this month are certain skilled workers from India, whose place in line just advanced by over a year. That means many new EB-3 green card applications can be filed now.
  • Many would-be green card applicants from Mexico and the Philippines have reason to celebrate this month, as well, with some family-based categories moving ahead by multiple months.
  • On the other hand, individuals of “extraordinary ability” from China and India are losing their fast-track to a green card for the first time this year. This is probably only temporary, though; these and other wait times are expected to reset on Oct. 1, 2018, when the government’s fiscal new year begins.

(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 brings meaningful progress for those from the Philippines—after recently moving backwards by two whole years, there’s some new forward motion this month:

  • More than a two-week advance for the general category, China, and India (now April 8, 2011).
  • Seven-week advance for for Mexico (now September 8, 1996).
  • Eleven-week advance for the Philippines (now January 1, 2006).

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

There is some modest 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 May 1, 2016).
  • One-month advance for Mexico (now April 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, strongest for the Philippines, in the F-2B category:

  • Five-week advance in the cut-off dates for the general category, China, and India (now April 8, 2011).
  • Two-week advance for Mexico (now November 1, 1996).
  • Eight-week advance for the Philippines (now November 1, 2006).

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

The F-3 category moves somewhat, but no relief for those from the Philippines:

  • Three-week advance in the cut-off dates for the general category, China, and India (now January 8, 2016).
  • Two-week advance for Mexico (now July 8, 1995).
  • No change for the Philippines (still March 22, 1995).

F-4: siblings of U.S. citizens

Some movement in the F-4 category:

  • Three-week advance in the cut-off date for the general category and China (now September 15, 2004).
  • Two-week advance for India (now February 15, 2004).
  • Three-week advance for Mexico (now December 8, 1997).
  • Three-week advance for the Philippines (now December 15, 1994).

Employment-Based Green Card Backlogs

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

The major change this month is that EB-1 green card applicants from China and India, who previously had no wait time, suddenly face a significant (though probably temporary) queue.

  • Dates are current for the general category, Central America, Mexico, and the Philippines. Come and get your green cards!
  • No longer current, the cut-off date for China and India has moved back several years (now January 1, 2012).

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 a much bigger leap for China than India:

  • Dates are current for the general category, Central America, Mexico, and the Philippines. No wait here!
  • Nearly eight-month advance for China (now August 1, 2014).
  • One-week advance for India (now December 22, 2008).

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

Good news depending on country, with a huge leap for India:

  • Dates remains current for the general category, Central America, and Mexico (no wait — celebrate!).
  • Six-and-a-half-month advance for China (now June 1, 2015).
  • One year plus a month advance for India (now February 1, 2008).
  • Eight-month advance for the Philippines (now January 1, 2017).

Finally, just to be complete about all of this: The cut-off date for EB-4 “special immigrants” advanced two weeks for Central America (now December 15, 2015), advanced five weeks for Mexico (now August 8, 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 didn’t budge since last month (still 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 a video of this squirrel eating a cucumber