How to Decipher and Read the U.S. Visa Bulletin
October 18, 2016
Every month, around the end of the first week, the Department of State issues a Visa Bulletin to inform the public how many immigrant visas have been issued (i.e.: how many greencard “slots” have been issued.”) The charts on the visa bulletin are a bit confusing because there are many different categories and countries. Sometimes, the indications move backwards (“retrogress”) instead of moving forwards, thereby making wait times for a greencard even longer.How exactly does one decipher and read the Visa Bulletin? While there are plenty of articles, there are few visual aids. We’re attempting to tackle this task today!Read Me First: The Visa Bulletin indicates when a foreign national may either submit their greencard application, or, if the application has already been submitted, when the government is currently reviewing that application. “When” this occurs is based on when the underlying immigrant petition was initially submitted to USCIS. That date is considered a “priority date” and will be notated on the immigrant visa petition approval.Step 1: Visit the Department of State’s Visa Bulletin webpage. There are usually links to the current month and the next month’s chart. There are also links to archived bulletins from past years. Select the link you wish to inspect.Step 2: Locate your “Preference” charts. The Preference is the basis for which the applicant is eligible to apply for a greencard. There are three preferences:
- Family Preference: when a relative sponsors you for a greencard
- Employment Preference: when you are eligible to apply for a greencard through employment purposes
- Diversity Lottery Preference: when you are eligible to apply based on the Diversity Lottery. Read more about it here.