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May 2018 Visa Bulletin

May Visa Bulletin 2018

As we gradually approach summer, we take our monthly look at the latest visa bulletin provided by the Department of State to see where the green card final action dates have moved. Keep reading if terms such as “final action dates” and “priority dates” are new for you. If you are already familiar with how a green card works, you can go straight to the report.

Dates to Keep in Mind

So, if you are interested in getting a green card but have never encountered the monthly visa bulletins, here are some definitions to get you up to speed.

Priority Date – This is the date that the USCIS receives your green card petition (not the date that you file it). This is the date that you should keep in mind when looking over the May visa bulletin report.

Final Action Date – These dates are what you will see listed below. Each month, these dates have the potential to change. They could move forward, stay in place, or retrogress (move backward). Once the final action date in your category matches or passes your priority date, the latter will be considered “current” and you will be able to adjust your status or make an appointment for consular processing.

Why Are the Dates for Some Countries Sooner Than Others

There is a limited number of green cards that are made available each year to each country. Some countries (especially those that are more populated) petition for more visas than the limit, which creates a backlog. If your priority date will not be current for several years, then your country has oversubscribed its category.

If the final action date for your category and country has a “C” in it, then your priority date is current as soon as the USCIS receives your petition and you can move forward when your petition is approved without waiting.

And now, without further ado, here are the dates for both family-based and employment-based green cards according to the May visa bulletin for 2018.

Family-Based Visas

The family-based category of green cards is dependent on which family member can sponsor you. This category is divided into four preference levels and five chargeability areas (countries). These are China, India, Mexico, the Philippines, and all other countries (we’ll call this the general category).

F-1: Children and Dependents of U.S. Citizens

  • The dates for the general category, China, and India have all not seen any movement and remain at April 8, 2011.
  • The date for Mexico has moved forward five weeks from September 8, 1996, to November 15, 1996.
  • The date for the Philippines has moved forward three weeks from January 1, 2006, to January 22, 2006.

F-2A: Spouses and Unmarried Children Under 21 of Green Card Holders

  • The dates for the general category, China, India, and the Philippines have all moved forward one month from May 1, 2016, to June 1, 2016.
  • The date for Mexico has moved forward three weeks from April 1, 2016, to April 22, 2016.

F-2B: Children Over 21 of Green Card Holders

  • The dates for the general category, China, and India have all moved forward five weeks from April 8, 2011, to May 15, 2011.
  • The date for Mexico has moved forward one month from November 1, 1996, to December 1, 1996.
  • The date for the Philippines has moved forward six weeks from November 1, 2006, to December 15, 2006.

F-3: Married Children of U.S. Citizens

  • The dates for the general category, China, and India have all moved forward three weeks from January 8, 2006, to February 1, 2006.
  • The date for Mexico has moved forward seven weeks from July 8, 1995, to September 1, 1995.
  • The date for the Philippines has moved forward one week from March 22, 1995, to April 1, 1995.

F-4: Siblings of U.S. Citizens

  • The dates for the general category and China have moved forward two weeks from September 15, 2004, to October 1, 2004.
  • The date for India has moved forward two weeks from February 15, 2004, to March 1, 2004.
  • The date for Mexico has moved forward one month from December 8, 1998, to January 8, 1998.
  • The date for the Philippines has moved forward six weeks from December 15, 1994, to February 1, 1995.

Family-Based Chart

May 2018 Family Chart

Employment-Based Visas

The green cards that are based on employment require you to work in the U.S. either through an employer or on your own. This newest visa bulletin has officially added a new chargeability area to the six that previously existed for employment green cards. There are now a total of seven chargeability areas and five preference levels. The areas include China, India, Mexico, the Philippines, Central America (which is El Salvador, Honduras, and Guatemala), Vietnam, and the general category.

EB-1: Workers of Extraordinary Achievement, Outstanding Researchers and Professors, and Multinational Executives and Managers

  • The dates for the general category, Central America, Mexico, the Philippines, and Vietnam are all current.
  • The dates for China and India have not moved and remain at January 1, 2012.

EB-2: Advanced Degree Holders and Workers With Exceptional Ability

  • The dates for the general category, Central America, Mexico, the Philippines, and Vietnam are all current.
  • The date for China has moved forward one month from August 1, 2014, to September 1, 2014.
  • The date for India has not seen any movement and remains at December 22, 2008.

EB-3: Professional, Skilled, and Unskilled “Other” Workers

  • The dates for the general category, Central America, Mexico, and Vietnam are all current.
  • The date for China has not seen any movement and remains at June 1, 2015.
  • The date for India has moved forward three months from February 1, 2008, to May 1, 2008.
  • The date for the Philippines has not seen any movement and remains at January 1, 2017.
  • The date for China in the “other workers” slot has moved forward one month from April 1, 2007, to May 1, 2007.

EB-4: Special Workers

  • The dates for the general category, China, India, the Philippines, and Vietnam are all current.
  • The date for Central America has not seen any movement and remains at December 15, 2015.
  • The date for Mexico has moved forward two months and two weeks from August 8, 2016, to October 22, 2016.

EB-5: Investors

  • The dates for the general category, Central America, India, Mexico, and the Philippines are all current.
  • The date for China has not seen any movement and remains at July 22, 2014.
  • The date for Vietnam is set at July 22, 2014. Because Vietnam was previously a part of the general category and the general category was current in April, the date has officially retrogressed.

Employment-Based Chart

May 2018 Employment Chart

May Visa Bulletin Predictions

As we discussed earlier, the Department of State has added Vietnam to the list of individual chargeability areas. According to the May visa bulletin, this was because Vietnam will oversubscribe the EB-5 category. It states that “the Vietnam Employment Fifth preference category will remain subject to a final action date for the foreseeable future.”

Additionally, the Special Immigrant category (which has only 50 available visas) may become unavailable in the coming months, according to the bulletin.

Remember that retrogression is due to having too many applicants from one country petition for the same green card. Unfortunately, outside of “porting” your status (essentially filing a petition for a green card of a higher preference level), there is no way to shorten the amount of time you will have to wait.

How to Stay In the Loop

There are many benefits of being in-the-know when it comes to your immigration situation. The landscape is constantly changing, so you can save time, effort, and money by staying on top of the latest info like the May visa bulletin. One way to do this is to subscribe to the Department of State’s newsletter by emailing [email protected] with the message “Subscribe Visa Bulletin”.

How Our Immigration Attorneys Can Help

Regardless of which green card you choose, the process can be long, tricky, and filled with opportunities to delay or sabotage your immigration efforts. The best way to protect the investment that you have made into your green card is to hire an immigration attorney to handle everything from the tedious tasks to larger legal battles if necessary.

Here at SGM Law Group, we employ a client-first method that allows us to use our decades of green card experience to help you with whatever your case may require. From filing your petition and gathering evidence to handling Requests for Evidence or even rejections and denials, our team of attorneys is here to help.

To get in touch with our immigration lawyers, you can fill out this contact form and schedule your consultation with our office today.

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