The Visa Bulletin: What’s New for February 2018


Understanding the green card waiting lists

Jan 18, 2018

The U.S. Department of State recently released its Visa Bulletin for February 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 Februrary 2018 Visa Bulletin brings some modest movement in wait times for both the family-based (“FB”) and employment-based (“EB”) green card categories.

While there are no major changes in this month’s visa bulletin, would-be green card applicants from China have the most reason to celebrate, with some categories moving ahead by multiple months.

(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 a standstill for many people in the F-1 category, with some modest progress for those from the Philippines—after recently moving backwards by two whole years, there’s some forward motion this month:

  • No movement for the general category, China, and India (still March 15, 2011).
  • Two-month advance for for Mexico (now July 1, 1996).
  • Seven-month advance for the Philippines (now August 1, 2005).

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:

  • One-month advance in cut-off date for the general category, China, India, and the Philippines (now March 1, 2016).
  • One-month advance for Mexico (now February 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 all in the F-2B category:

  • Six-week advance in the cut-off dates for the general category, China, and India (now January 15, 2011).
  • Three-week advance for Mexico (now September 8, 1996).
  • Three-week advance for the Philippines (now July 22, 2006).

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

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

  • Five-week advance in the cut-off dates for the general category, China, and India (now November 15, 2005).
  • One-week advance in the cut-off date for Mexico (now June 22, 1995).
  • No change for the Philippines (still March 15, 1995).

F-4: siblings of U.S. citizens

Some meaningful movement in the F-4 category:

  • One-month advance in the cut-off date for the general category and China (now July 22, 2004).
  • Three-week advance for India (now January 8, 2004).
  • One-week advance for Mexico (now November 8, 1997).
  • One-month advance for the Philippines (now October 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 a bigger leap for China than India:

  • Dates are current for the general category, Central America, Mexico, and the Philippines. No wait here!
  • Seven-week advance for China (now October 1, 2013).
  • Two-week advance for India (now December 8, 2008).

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

Good news depending on country, with a particularly big jump for China:

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

Finally, just to be complete about all of this: The cut-off date for EB-4 “special immigrants” didn’t move for Central America (still December 1, 2015), advanced three weeks for Mexico (now June 22, 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 this video of an impossibly cute baby hippo