Every month, the Department of State posts the latest final action dates for U.S. green cards in their visa bulletin. Those who are waiting for their green card priority dates to become current eagerly await the next bulletin to see if it’s time to move onto the next step of their green card processes. If this is you or you’re still confused about final action dates, priority dates, and different types of green cards, this post is for you.
February 2018 Visa Bulletin Dates
Before we get into the report for February’s 2018 visa bulletin, let’s start off by defining some of the terms we’ll be using.
Your petition’s priority date is the day that the USCIS receives your petition (not the date that you file it). Some nonimmigrant visas also require a Labor Condition Application. If that is the case, then your priority date is the day that the USCIS receives the LCA. However, we’ll only be talking about immigrant visas here.
Final Action Date
On the other hand, final action dates are the dates given by the Department of State in their bulletin that usually change each month. When your priority date matches or passes the given final action date, your priority date will be considered “current”, which means that a visa number has become available and you can either adjust your status or make a consular appointment to get your green card.
Family-Sponsored Visa Category
This group of green cards is based on your familial relationship with your sponsor. It is broken up into four preference levels and five chargeability areas (countries or country groups that were created based on average petition volume). These areas are: China, India, Mexico, the Philippines, and all unlisted countries ( a group we’ll call the “general category”).
Here are the family-based final action dates taken from the February 2018 visa bulletin:
This first group, the F1, is meant for the children and dependents of U.S. citizens.
- The dates for the general category, China, and India have not seen any movement and all remain at March 15, 2011.
- The date for Mexico has jumped ahead two months from May 1, 1996, to July 1, 1996.
- The date for the Philippines leaped forward seven months from January 1, 2005, to August 1, 2005.
The F2 is even further broken down into two subcategories:
F2A: for the unmarried children under 21 and spouses of green card holders (lawful permanent residents).
- The dates for the general category, China, India, and the Philippines have moved up one month from February 1, 2016, to March 1, 2016.
- The date for Mexico has moved up one month from January 1, 2016, to February 1, 2016.
F2B: for the married children over the age of 21 of green card holders.
- The dates for the general category, China, and India have all moved ahead six weeks from December 1, 2010, to January 15, 2011.
- The date for Mexico has moved forward three weeks from August 15, 1996, to September 8, 1996.
- The date for the Philippines has moved forward three weeks from July 1, 2006, to July 22, 2006.
On the third level, we have the F3, which is for the married children of U.S. citizens.
- The dates for the general category, China, and India have all moved forward five weeks from October 8, 2005, to November 15, 2005.
- The date for Mexico has moved up one week from June 15, 1995, to June 22, 1995.
- The date for the Philippines has not seen any movement and remains at March 15, 1995.
Lastly, there is the F4, meant for the brothers and sisters of immigrants.
- The dates for the general category and China have moved forward one month from June 22. 2004, to July 22, 2004.
- The date for India has moved up three weeks from December 15, 2004, to January 8, 2004.
- The date for Mexico has moved forward one week from November 1, 1997, to November 8, 1997.
- The date for the Philippines has moved forward one month from September 1, 1994, to October 1, 1994.
Family-Sponsored Visa Charts
Take a look at the chart for family-based green cards taken from the February 2018 visa bulletin.
Similar to the family-based green cards, the employment-based categories are divided into preference levels and chargeability areas. There are five preference levels for these visas, though we will only be focusing on the first three due to their popularity and relevance. The six chargeability areas are: China, India, Mexico, the Philippines, Central America (or El Salvador, Honduras, and Guatemala), and the general category.
The EB-1 is the most prestigious employment-based green card and is for immigrants who can be categorized into one three subcategories:
EB-1A – for those with extraordinary ability
EB-1B – for outstanding researchers and professors
EB-1C – for the managers and executives for multinational companies
- All dates for the first preference level are current.
Those that qualify for the EB-2 either possess an advanced degree, exceptional ability in their field, or are eligible for a National Interest Waiver.
- The dates for the general category, Central America, Mexico, and the Philippines are all current.
- The date for China has moved forward seven weeks from August 8, 2013, to October 1, 2013.
- The date for India has moved forward two weeks from November 22, 2008, to December 8, 2008.
Lastly, this third preference level, the EB-3 is for professionals (those with bachelor’s degrees), skilled workers (those with 2+ years of experience), and “other workers” (those with fewer than 2 years of experience).
Keep in mind that the date for China is slightly different in the “other workers” category, as noted below.
- The dates for the general category, Central America, and Mexico are all current.
- The date for China has moved forward five months from April 15, 2014, to September 15, 2014.
- The date for India has moved forward one month from November 1, 2006, to December 1, 2006.
- The date for the Philippines has moved forward two weeks from February 15, 2016, to March 1, 2016.
- The date for China in the “other workers” category has moved forward five weeks from December 22, 2006, to February 1, 2007.
Employment-Based Visa Charts
For visual learners, here is the chart for employment-based green cards pulled from the February 2018 visa bulletin.
February 2018 Visa Bulletin Predictions
Here is what the next few months will likely look like according to the bulletin:
For family-based visas, the first preference level will likely move forward one month while the second level is looking like it will move between three and five weeks. For the third, you can expect a jump of five weeks and the fourth preference level will probably only move three weeks.
For employment-based visas, the Department of State predicts that the first preference level will stay current for many months. The dates that are current on the second and third levels will also likely stay current for several months. However, for both preference levels, the date for China will likely jump up to five months.
For the second preference, the date for India is predicted to move forward two weeks. However, the date for India in the third preference can jump up to three months. Also for the third level, the date for the Philippines is projected to move up one month.
How You Can Stay Up-to-Date
The best way to avoid being out of the loop when it comes to your green card is to stay updated on the latest immigration news. To get the February 2018 visa bulletin in your email every month, simply send a message with the words “subscribe visa bulletin” to [email protected] to subscribe to the Department of State’s website. Never miss a visa bulletin again!
How Our Immigration Attorneys Can Help
Most people have put a lot of time, effort, and money into their green cards, making them very valuable and sensitive commodities. If you are considering taking this step in your immigration process or are waiting on your priority date to be current, the best way to make sure you are doing it the right way and to protect your investment is to have an immigration attorney handle all of the minutiae of your case.
The dedicated team of green card attorneys here at SGM Law Group has worked with countless foreign nationals from all countries and walks of life to go through the green card process. To retain our services and speak with an immigration attorney, you can fill out our contact form and schedule your consultation today.