Visa Bulletin Overview
Each month the Department of State publishes the visa bulletin. The visa bulletin provides information on when you will be able to apply for your immigrant visa. The visa bulletin is important to people who plan to immigrate in a category that is limited by the quota system. If the quota system applies to your immigration category, your immigration petition will have a “priority date” that is used to track when a visa number will become available for you. The visa bulletin will list which priority dates are current so that you’ll know whether you can move forward with your immigrant visa application. You should check the visa bulletin each month to get updates on when your priority date will be current and you can apply for your visa.
How To Read The Visa Bulletin
For family immigration cases, the visa bulletin provides updates for the following visa categories:
- First or F1 category for unmarried sons and daughters of United States citizens. Sons and daughters are children who are 21 years of age or older.
- Second or F2A category for spouses and children (unmarried and under 21 years of age) of permanent residents.
- Second or F2B category for unmarried sons and daughters (21 years of age or older) of permanent residents.
- Third or F3 category for married sons and daughters of United States citizens. Sons and daughters are children who are 21 years of age or older.
- Fourth or F4 category for brothers and sisters of adult United States citizens.
To read the visa bulletin, first locate the table for family visa preferences and then find the row for your visa category. You will then need to find the date in the column for your country. This date indicates the “current” priority date for that month. This means that if your priority date is before the date that is listed, you can move forward with your visa application. For example, if your priority date is March 1, 2008 and the listed date is March 15, 2008, your priority date is earlier than the listed date and you can move forward with the immigration process.
Does Not Apply To Immediate Relatives
The visa bulletin only applies to visa categories that are controlled by the quota system. It does not apply to “immediate relatives” of United States citizens because visa numbers are always available for immediate relatives. This is why you don’t see the immediate relative categories on the visa bulletin chart. Immediate relatives are:
- Spouses of United States citizens
- Parents of United States citizens (if the United States citizen child is 21 years of age or older)
- Children of United States citizens (if the child is unmarried and under 21 years of age)