If you are on the path to a green card and only need to wait until your priority date is current, then this article is for you. Whether you want to find out where the dates have fallen this month, what to do once your date is current, or how you can possibly shorten your waiting time, our November 2017 visa bulletin is full of the information you need to take the next steps in your immigration story. November 2017 Visa Bulletin Overview Now that the 2018 fiscal year is in full swing, the date movements have returned to their normal movement. However, based on the dates in the November 2017 visa bulletin, it seems that the family green cards are being heavily subscribed in the Philippines. For this reason, there seems to be substantially less movement from that chargeability area. As for the other countries, the dates are moving forward at a relatively uniform pace. Family-Based Visa Preference Categories There are four main levels of preference in the family-based category of green card. Each of these preferences is further divided down into areas of chargeability (the applicant's country of origin). These countries are: China, India, Mexico, the Phillippines, and all unlisted countries (otherwise known as the general category). Here are the movements of the final action dates according to the November 2017 visa bulletin. FIRST PREFERENCE The first preference belongs to the F1 green card, which is meant for the children and dependents of U.S. citizens. \tThe dates for the general category, China, and India have all moved forward one month from December 22, 2010, to January 22, 2011. \tThe date for Mexico has moved up one month from March 1, 1996, to April 1, 1996. \tThe date for the Philippines has not seen any movement and remains at January 1, 2007. Second Preference In the second preference, the F2 green card is broken down into two subcategories: F2A: this green card allows green card holders (legal permanent residents) to sponsor their spouses and unmarried children under the age of 21. \tThe dates for the general category, China, India, and the Philippines have all moved forward three weeks from October 22, 2015, to November 15, 2015. \tThe date for Mexico has moved forward two weeks from October 15, 2015, to November 1, 2015. F2B: this allows green card holders to sponsor their unmarried children who are over 21. \tThe dates for the general category, China, and India have all moved up one week from November 8, 2010, to November 15, 2010. \tThe date for Mexico has gone up one week from July 15, 1996, to July 22, 1996. \tThe date for the Philippines has not seen any movement and remains at January 1, 2007. Third Preference The married children of U.S. citizens are eligible for the F3 green card under this preference. \tThe dates for the general category, China, and India have all moved forward three weeks from July 22, 2005, to August 15, 2005. \tThe date for Mexico has gone up two weeks from April 22, 1995, to May 8, 2005. \tThe date for the Philippines has moved up one week from February 22, 1995, to March 1, 1995. Fourth Preference Finally, the F4 is for the siblings (brothers and sisters) of U.S. citizens. \tThe dates for the general category and China have both moved ahead two weeks from May 8, 2004, to May 22, 2004. \tThe date for India has moved forward three weeks from October 1, 2003, to October 22, 2003. \tThe date for Mexico has gone up one week from October 1, 1997, to October 8, 1007. \tFinally, the date for the Philippines has moved forward one week from June 1, 1994, to June 8, 1004 Family-Based Visa Charts Here is the chart for family-based green cards from the November 2017 visa bulletin. Employment-Based Visa Preference Categories Like the green cards in the family-based group, the employment-based green cards are also divided into both preference levels and chargeability areas. However, these green cards have five preference levels (of which we will only focus on the first three) and six countries: China, India, Mexico, the Philippines, Central America (which just includes Honduras, El Salvador, and Guatemala), and the general category. Here is where the dates stand according to the visa bulletin for November 2017. FIRST PREFERENCE The top-level green card for employment-based immigrant visas is the EB-1, which is broken down into three subcategories: \tEB-1A: for individuals with extraordinary achievement \tEB-1B: for outstanding researchers and professors \tEB-1C: for the executives and managers of multinational companies These green cards are unique in that they do not require the applicant to obtain a PERM Labor Certification. \tThe dates for all chargeability areas for the EB-1 are current. SECOND PREFERENCE For the EB-2, an eligible applicant must either have an advanced degree (master's or above), an exceptional ability in his or her field, or be qualified to receive a National Interest Waiver, which waives the requirement for a PERM. \tThe dates for the general category, Central America, Mexico, and the Philippines are all current. \tThe date for China has moved forward three weeks from May 22, 2013, to June 15, 2013. \tThe date for India has moved up three weeks from September 15, 2008, to October 8, 2008. THIRD PREFERENCE The final green card that we will cover is the EB-3. This is meant for those that have bachelor's degrees, those that have 2 or more years of experience (skilled workers), and those that have less than 2 years of experience (other workers). Keep in mind that the "other workers" category has slightly different dates as denoted below. \tThe dates for the general category, Central America, and India are all current. \tThe date for China has moved forward one month from January 1, 2014, to February 1, 2014. \tThe date for India has not seen any movement and remains at October 15, 2006. \tThe date for the Philippines has moved up six weeks from December, 1, 2015, to January 15, 2016. Employment-Based Visa Chart Here is the official chart for the employment-based visas taken from the November 2017 visa bulletin. November 2017 Visa Bulletin Predictions The reason why several categories have seen very little movement or no movement at all is due to the fact that more people from those countries are petitioning for these green cards than the annual limit. As the USCIS either gets ahead or falls behind on adjudicating petitions, the final action dates will advance or retrogress. Because it is still the first month of the new fiscal year, we can likely expect these dates to move forward at a steady pace based on previous years. However, the current political administration has made statements concerning expediting the green card process, so what the future holds remains to be seen. My Priority Date is Current! What's Next? Once your priority date matches or passes the final action date given in your category and country, you might find yourself with two options: adjustment of status or consular processing. Adjustment of status simply involves submitting an I-485 form with the USCIS. However, this option can be relatively expensive and is only available to those that are already in the U.S. under a nonimmigrant visa status. This form allows you to adjust your nonimmigrant status to an immigrant one (green card status). If you are outside the U.S., then you will need to use consular processing. This means that you will have to travel to a designated U.S. Consulate or Embassy and schedule an appointment for a one-on-one interview with a consular officer. While this may be the cheaper and more expedient option, the hassle of getting to the consulate and the uncertainty of the interview is why many who are already in the U.S. choose to adjust their status. How You Can Stay Updated Don't fall behind on the updates! Make sure that you are apprised of all the latest news from the Department of State by signing up for their newsletter. Just send a message to email@example.com with the message "Subscribe Visa Bulletin" to get constant updates like the November 2017 visa bulletin. How Our Immigration Attorneys Can Help Waiting for your green card can be arduous, especially if your priority date will not become current for several years. While there may not be a way around this waiting period, there is a way to make sure that all your waiting was not in vain. Retaining the services of an immigration attorney can help ensure that your petition is optimized and that you are on the fastest track toward a green card. Additionally, for those going for employment-based visas, an attorney can help you determine if you are qualified to "upgrade" your green card to a higher preference level. Here at SGM Law Group, our attorneys have decades of experience assisting countless people as they work toward their green cards. To speak with one of our dedicated lawyers, fill out this contact form and schedule your consultation today.