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Decoding the Visa Bulletin: Your Guide to Green Card Availability

The Visa Bulletin is a online document that is published by the U.S. Department of State (DOS) on a monthly basis. It provides valuable information regarding the availability of immigrant visas, categorizing them by preference category and country. Its purpose is to inform the public about the availability of immigrant visas, which are required for individuals seeking to become lawful permanent residents (green card holders) of the United States. For fiscal year 2024, a total of 226,000 family-based visas can be issued in total worldwide, over all of the different preference categories. In any one year, no country is permitted to receive more than 7% of the worldwide quota. Similarly, a total of 140,000 employment-based visas can be issued worldwide for fiscal year 2024.
The Visa Bulletin is divided into two main sections: Family-Sponsored Preferences and Employment-Based Preferences. The family-sponsored preferences are a set of categories within the U.S. immigration system that allow U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents (green card holders) to sponsor certain relatives for immigrant visas. For the employment-sponsored preferences, the Visa Bulletin plays a vital role in the U.S. immigration system, especially for individuals seeking to obtain lawful permanent residency (green cards) through the employment-based process. Each section is further divided into several categories, each representing a specific relationship or employment category. These categories are subject to annual numerical limits, which can result in a backlog of applications in certain categories and from certain countries.
The “priority date” is the essentially your “place in line.” When your priority date is current, you are at the front of the visa line and you are then eligible to apply for the green card. In cases where there is a high demand for visas in a particular category from certain countries (who can only receive a maximum of 7% of the worldwide qutoa), a backlog may develop. As an example, adult sons and daughters of U.S. Citizens who live in Mexico have a current wait of approximately 25 years before their priority date becomes current. Spouses and children of permanent residents who live in China, by comparison, have a wait of approximately 4 ½ years.
Applicants can check the Visa Bulletin online to determine if their priority date is current and if they are eligible to proceed with the next steps of their immigration process.
The Visa Bulletin is a vital tool for immigrants. It provides transparency into the immigration process and helps individuals plan their next steps accordingly. Staying informed about the Visa Bulletin’s updates and understanding its implications can greatly assist individuals navigating the complex world of U.S. immigration.
To reunite with your loved ones or retain valuable workers, you may want to consult an immigration attorney. The attorneys at Tanner Law Offices can help you navigate the immigrant visa process or provide further information if needed. Please contact our office at (717) 731-8114 to schedule a consultation to discuss your case.