It’s time for the first visa bulletin for the new year! Getting a green card can be difficult, especially if you’re doing it on your own. One thing you need to stay up-to-date is a comprehensive breakdown of the monthly visa bulletin. Keep reading to see how the January 2018 visa bulletin works and where your priority date stands along the green card timeline.
January 2018 Visa Bulletin Overview
In the family-based category, there have been a few substantial movements. However, it seems as though the Philippines are still heavily oversubscribed. As for the employment-based green cards, many of the dates in all categories remain current. Because of this, employment may be a better option for immigration than family this year according to the January 2018 visa bulletin.
Family-Based Visa Preference Categories
The family-based green cards are broken up into four preference levels. These levels are also separated into five chargeability areas (geographic locations): China, India, Mexico, the Philippines, and all other countries (called “the general category”).
Here are the priority date movements according to the January 2018 visa bulletin:
This first preference category is held by the F1 green card, created for the children and dependents of U.S. citizens.
- The dates for the general category, China, and India have all moved forward six weeks from February 1, 2011, to March 15, 2011.
- The date for Mexico has moved forward one month from April 1, 1996, to May 1, 1996.
- The date for the Philippines has not seen any movement and remains at January 1, 2005.
There are two subcategories associated with the second preference:
F2A: this is for the spouses and unmarried children (under the age of 21) of lawful permanent residents, otherwise known as green card holders.
- The dates for the general category, China, India, and the Philippines have all moved forward five weeks from December 22, 2015, to February 1, 2015.
- The date for Mexico has moved forward six weeks from November 15, 2015, to January 1, 2016.
F2B: this is meant 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 forward one week from November 22, 2010, to December 1, 2010.
- The date for Mexico has gone up three weeks from July 22, 1996, to August 15, 1996.
- The date for the Philippines has not seen any movement and remains at July 1, 2006.
The third preference level is occupied by the F3 green card, which is meant for the married children of U.S. citizens.
- The dates for the general category, China, and India have all moved forward one month from September 8, 2005, to October 8, 2005.
- The date for Mexico has moved up three weeks from May 22, 1995, to June 15, 1995.
- The date for the Philippines has gone up one week from March 8, 1995, to March 15, 1995.
In the last preference level is the F4. With this green card, the siblings (brothers and sisters) of U.S. citizens can immigrate permanently.
- The dates for the general category and China have both moved forward two weeks from June 8, 2004, to June 22, 2004.
- The date for India has gone up three weeks from November 22, 2003, to December 15, 2003.
- The date for Mexico has moved up three weeks from October 8, 1997, to November 1, 1997.
- The date for the Philippines moved forward one month from August 1, 1994, to September 1, 1994.
Family-Based Visa Chart
Here is the chart for family-based immigration pulled from the January 2018 visa bulletin.
Employment-Based Visa Preference Categories
Like the family green cards, the employment-based preference levels are also divided into chargeability areas. However, there are six areas: China, India, Mexico, the Philippines, Central America (just El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras), and the general category.
There are a total of five preference levels for the employment-based green cards, but due to their popularity, we will only be focusing on the first three levels.
The EB-1 green card is reserved for those that fall into one of three groups:
- Those that can demonstrate extraordinary achievement in their field
- Those that are outstanding researchers or professors
- Those that are executives and managers of multinational companies
All of the dates for the first preference are current, meaning that you can adjust your status of go through consular processing as soon as your petition is approved.
In the second preference, we have the EB-2, which is for those that can demonstrate extraordinary ability, those that hold advanced degrees, and those that qualify to receive 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 up five weeks from July 1, 2013, to August 8, 2013.
- The date for India has gone up three weeks from November 1, 2008, to November 22, 2008.
The final preference level is the EB-3, which is designed for professional workers (bachelor’s degree), skilled workers (more than 2 years of experience), and unskilled workers or “other workers” (less than 2 years of experience).
Note that the dates for the “other workers” category are slightly different than the others.
- The dates for the general category, Central America, and Mexico are all current.
- The date for China has moved forward five weeks from March 8, 2014, to April 15, 2014.
- The date for India has moved forward two weeks from October 15, 2006, to November 1, 2006.
- The “other workers” date for China has leaped forward five months and three weeks from July 1, 2006, to December 22, 2006.
Employment-Based Visa Chart
Need a visual? Here are the dates taken from the January 2018 visa bulletin charts for employment-based immigration.
January 2018 Visa Bulletin Predictions
As you can see, the dates for the family-based category have not moved very much, particularly for the Philippines. This means that the category is oversubscribed, which might result in an eventual retrogression (when the date moves backward). It would seem that the optimal immigration route is through employment rather than family. However, if you are working on a family-based green card, our immigration attorneys can help you find the optimal route.
How You Can Stay In-The-Know
If you are waiting for your green card’s priority date to be current, you will likely want to stay up-to-date with everything having to do with your case. Fortunately, the Department of State allows you to subscribe to their newsletter so that you can get regular updates like the January 2018 visa bulletin. Just send an email with the message “Subscribe visa bulletin” to [email protected]
How Our Immigration Attorneys Can Help
Your green card represents a significant investment of time and money for both you and your employer. So whether you have already started the process or are doing preliminary research before committing, it pays to have help. Hiring an immigration lawyer can help you make sure that you are on the fastest path to your green card and that unforeseen obstacles are handled. Also, your attorney can help you take the next and final step toward citizenship.
Here at SGM Law Group, our green card attorneys have helped hundreds of people and businesses secure green cards through employment. From start to finish, our lawyers take care of every step of the process. To get in touch with our office, you can fill out this contact form so that we can schedule your consultation today.