It's that time of the month again. The time when the Department of State releases its monthly report on where the final action dates stand. Because getting a green card is often the end goal for many immigration cases, we understand that the April 2017 visa bulletin carries valuable information. Read on to have that information broken down in a simple, accessible way. April 2017 Visa Bulletin Overview Here is a brief overview of the changes that we will go into more detail about later on. Like in previous months, many of the preference categories for both family-based and employment-based immigrant visas have had their final action dates moved forward by several weeks. Some have even seen changes amounting to several months. Fortunately, no final action dates have retrogressed to previous dates. If you would like to see the official April 2017 visa bulletin, you can visit the Department of State website. Family-Based Visa Preference Categories Like in previous months, the family-based categories are broken down into four preferences and five chargeability groups. Those groups are mainland China, India, Mexico, the Philippines, and the general chargeability category (meaning all countries not listed). In order to analyze and make predictions about the visa bulletin for April 2017, we first need to look at how the dates have moved from the previous month. FIRST PREFERENCE The first preference, called the F1 green card, is for the children of current U.S. citizens. \tThe final action dates for the general category, China, and India have leaped forward four months and two weeks from June 1, 2010 to October 15, 2010. \tThe date for Mexico has moved forward one week from May 15, 1995 to May 22, 1995. \tFor the Philippines, the date has moved up one month from December 15, 2005 to January 15, 2006. SECOND PREFERENCE The second preference, the F2 green card, is broken down into two categories: F2A: created for the children and spouses of lawful permanent residents or green card holders. \tThe final action dates for the general category, China, India, and the Philippines have moved forward one month from May 8, 2015 to June 8, 2015. \tMexican nationals will find that their date has moved up one month from April 22, 2015 to May 22, 2015. F2B: meant for unmarried children of lawful permanent residents that are over 21 years old. \tFor the general category, China, and India, the final action dates have gone up one month from August 15, 2010 to September 15, 2010. \tThe date for Mexico has moved up one month from November 22, 1995 to December 22, 1995. \tThe date for the Philippines has moved forward six weeks from May 1, 2006 to June 15, 2006. THIRD PREFERENCE The third preference is also called the F3 and was designed for the married children of current U.S. citizens. \tThe dates for the general category, China, and India have all moved forward three weeks from April 22, 2005 to May 15, 2005. \tFor Mexico, the final action date has moved forward two weeks from December 22, 1994 to January 15, 1995. \tThe Philippines has had its date moved forward one week from September 8, 1994 to September 15, 1994. FOURTH PREFERENCE The final preference category is the F4 which was created for the brothers and sisters of U.S. citizens who are at least 21 years old. \tThe general category and China have both seen their dates move forward two and a half months from February 22, 2004 to May 8, 2004. \tFor Mexico, the date has gone forward two weeks from June 1, 1997 to June 15, 1997. \tFor the Philippines, the final action date has moved up five weeks from August 1, 1993 to September 8, 1993. Family-Based Visa Charts Here is the chart for family-based visas taken from the April 2017 visa bulletin. Employment-Based Visa Category Dates In the April 2017 visa bulletin, the employment-based categories are broken down into five individual preference levels and six chargeability areas. Those areas are mainland China, Central America (El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras), India, Mexico, the Philippines, and the general chargeability category. Because the fourth and fifth preference levels are rare cases, we will focus only on the first three levels for our analysis and visa bulletin April 2017 predictions. FIRST PREFERENCE The first preference is known as the EB-1 green card and is designated for workers with extraordinary achievement, professors, researchers, executives, and managers. If you are an EB-1 applicant, then you will find that the final action dates across all chargeability countries are current. This means that an immigrant visa number will be available when you receive approval for your I-140 petition. SECOND PREFERENCE The second preference level, the EB-2 green card, is meant for professionals holding advanced degrees or that have exceptional ability in their field. \tThe dates for Central America, Mexico, the Philippines, and the general category are all current. \tFor China, the final action date has moved forward one month from December 15, 2012 to January 15, 2013. \tThe date for India has moved forward three weeks from June 1, 2008 to June 22, 2008. THIRD PREFERENCE The EB-3 green card is further separated into three subcategories: skilled workers who have 2 years of experience, bachelor's degree holders, and a subcategory called "other workers" (unskilled workers). This third subcategory has dates that differ slightly from the other two, as can be seen by the chart. \tFor Central America, Mexico, and the general category, the final action dates have moved forward two and a half months from December 1, 2016 to February 15, 2017. \tFor China, the date has moved up five months from March 15, 2014 to August 15, 2014. \tUnfortunately, for India, the final action date has only moved forward two days from March 22, 2005 to March 24, 2005. \tHowever the date for the Philippines has jumped ahead six months from March 15, 2012 to September 15, 2012. The "other workers" category has only one date that is different from the other two. For China, the final action date has moved forward one month from February 1, 2006 to March 1, 2006. Employment-Based Visa Chart Here is the chart for employment-based visas taken from the April 2017 visa bulletin. How You Can Stay Up-To-Date Keeping up with the ever-fluctuating immigration policies and dates can be frustrating. Luckily, the Department of State allows you to subscribe to their monthly newsletters.Just send an email to email@example.com with a message body that reads "Subscribe Visa Bulletin" to start receiving important info like the April 2017 visa bulletin predictions right away. How Our Immigration Attorneys Can Help The green card process can be long and difficult, especially for certain preference levels. Fortunately, there is a way to make sure that you are making the best decisions with your immigration case. By retaining the services of a qualified immigration attorney, you can be sure that you are on the fastest path to your green card. The immigration lawyers here at SGM Law Group specialize in green cards and work visas. If you want to make sure that your case is in experienced hands, then you can always fill out our contact form to schedule a consultation today.