What Is the Visa Bulletin and How Does It Impact Your Visa Application?


 The Visa Bulletin summarizes the availability of immigrant numbers and country limits for family-sponsored and employment-based preference categories.

What Is a Visa Bulletin?


A Visa Bulletin is a document released every month by the Department of State that determines when a foreign national can embark on the final step of their green card process. It also determines when a foreign national can have that final step adjudicated if the final step is already initiated.

A Visa Bulletin is published as a quick reference guide instead of a definitive statement of law or policy. It lists monthly cut-off dates for determining when immigrant visas will be available to applicants from countries with high demand.

It also establishes monthly cut-off dates for determining when immigrant visa applications will no longer be accepted from applicants subject to yearly quotas.

The Law Office of Michael G. Murray P.A. has extensive experience in immigration issues. Our visa lawyer provides exceptional immigration services, understands the workings of the government agencies that you may have to deal with, and can help you meet the many requirements for an immigrant visa, such as observing filing dates for your immigration petition.

Purpose of the Visa Bulletin


The Visa Bulletin is a document published every month by the Department of State to notify applicants that it is time to collect their green cards.

Given that the number of family-sponsored and employment-based preference applicants typically exceeds the number of immigrant visas available, there is always a waitlist for these preference categories.

In such circumstances, the Department of State will issue green cards and immigrant visas on a first-come, first-serve basis for the different family-sponsored or employment-based preference categories.

If you are applying for an immigrant visa, working with a law firm with experience and skills in such matters is critical. The Law Office of Michael G. Murray P.A. has been helping foreign nationals obtain their immigrant visas for years.

Contact our office and let us help you with your adjustment of status, filing of immigration documents, green card process, legal representation, and other immigration services.

When Is the Visa Bulletin Issued?


The Visa Bulletin is issued on the first workday of each month. It lists the cut-off dates for visa availability in the coming months and predictions about the future movement of these dates.

The cut-off date is the last day applicants need to have filed their applications by to be eligible for a visa number in that month.

The Visa Bulletin lists cut-off dates for various visa categories, such as employment-based, family-sponsored, and diversity lottery visas.


Visa Bulletin Predictions


In the Visa Bulletin for April 2022, the Department of State announced that the cut-off date for EB-3 visas would be November 1, 2022. This means that any applicant who wants to apply for an EB-3 visa must have a priority date earlier than November 1, 2022, to be eligible to apply for an EB-3 visa in the coming months.

If you are looking to embark on the process of getting a green card, you should contact an immigration lawyer at the earliest opportunity.

If you are looking for an immigration lawyer in Austin, contact the Law Office of Michael G. Murray P.A. Our team is aware of the latest developments in immigration law, from dates for filing charts to scheduled expiration dates for the different visa categories, and can help you know which deadlines apply to your situation.

We look forward to using our experience to help you with your immigration application. 

Reading the Visa Bulletin


You need to determine your preference category and priority date before you can make sense of the information in the Visa Bulletin.


How to Determine the Right Family-Based Preference Category

The preference category usually depends on the relationship you have with the applicant. A family-based immigrant visa application’s priority will typically depend on the relationship with the petitioner.

If an I-130 application were made on your behalf, the petitioner would be either a permanent resident or a U.S citizen family member. The preference category is usually determined by the relationship, which includes:

  1. Brothers and sisters of U.S citizens
  2. Married daughters and sons of U.S. citizens
  3. Unmarried adult daughters and sons of U.S. citizens
  4. Unmarried daughters and sons of U.S. permanent residents
  5. Unmarried children and spouses under 21 of U.S. permanent residents

How to Determine the Right Employment-Based Preference Category

The preference category is usually based on preference categories set out by the Department of State. These categories include:

  1. People with exceptional ability and applicants with advanced degrees
  2. Priority workers, including holders of bachelor’s degrees, skilled workers, and unskilled workers
  3. Investors intending to be active in high unemployment or rural areas
  4. Skilled workers, such as outstanding professors and researchers, people with extraordinary abilities, and executives of multinational companies
  5. Special immigrants, such as ministers of religion

With our skills and experience working in the immigration field, we help our clients submit their green cards, adjustment of status, and other applications in a timely manner. Contact us today if you need any advice or representation on your immigration petition.


How to Determine Your Priority Date

The priority date is when an application for a visa or green card is submitted. It determines when an applicant can apply for a visa or green card.

The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) limits the number of family-preference and employment-preference immigrant visas, so there is usually a waitlist. Each applicant’s request is thus given a priority date, which indicates their place in the line.

The filing date of the petition is usually the applicant’s priority date. This can be found by reviewing the I-797 Notice of Action, which is usually provided to applicants upon the approval of an I-130 petition.

The USCIS determines and sets a monthly quota of visas granted to each country. You should note that applicants submitting their applications in the earlier days of a month have a better probability of getting their applications approved.


Understanding the Information in the Visa Bulletin

Once you know your preference category and priority date, you should head to the Visa Bulletin page on the U.S. State Department site and do the following:

  1. Select the current Visa Bulletin,
  2. Go to either Family-Sponsored Preferences or Employment-Sponsored Preferences
  3. Select your family or employment category preference
  4. Check the date listed against your priority date

You have a current immigrant visa if you determine that your priority date is earlier than the listed date.

Most people can use the dates in the “All Chargeability Areas Except Those Listed” column. However, if you are a citizen of the Philippines, China, Mexico, and India, you will have to use dates from the respective columns.

The Law Office of Michael G. Murray P.A. has an experienced and skilled citizenship lawyer who can assist clients in filing their petitions on the different government agency websites. By working with a reputable law firm such as ours, you can be confident that your petition will be filed accurately and in a timely manner.

What Is the Final Action Date in the Visa Bulletin?


The final action date refers to the last date an applicant may file a petition asking for the National Visa Center to classify the employment-based or family-based preference categories as unused.

It is critical to note that final action dates are typically based on the chargeability area (country of origin) and the green card category. As such, green card dates are constantly moving depending on how many people have petitioned for a green card from that area.

The USCIS will typically not accept any petitions from a particular preference category or any other visa categories if the dates for filing indicated in the final action dates chart have passed.

You should note that all family-sponsored preference categories need to use the Dates of Filing chart, similar to employment-based preference categories.

If you are looking to get help with immigrant visa application, you should visit the Law Office of Michael G. Murray P.A. We have helped many of our clients avoid common errors that usually result in denials, rejections, and delays.

Contact us today so we can start reviewing your petition and providing the legal advice you need for a successful immigration petition.