One of the most significant parts of getting a green card in the U.S. is waiting for your priority date to be current. For those who have invested the time, effort, and money into an immigrant visa, questions arise such as "How long will it take for my date to be current?" and "Can I speed this process up?" We provide regular monthly updates on the most recent visa bulletin, analyze the date movements, and predict upcoming months to help answer these questions. This month, we'll go over the December 2023 visa bulletin. If you want more information on the background of the visa bulletin and how to read the bulletin, make sure to scroll to the bottom of the post or click the interested link in the Table of Contents. December 2023 Visa Bulletin: Overview and Predictions The newest visa bulletin looks very similar to the October visa bulletin with a few changes to the employment Final Action Date Chart. In the December 2023 Visa Bulletin, Final Action Dates for EB-1, EB-2, and EB-3 Worldwide (All Other) remain unchanged. EB-2 and EB-3 China advance 22 days. EB-1, EB-2, and EB-3 Final Action Dates for India remain unchanged. Summary of Changes: FINAL ACTION DATES (Chart A):China: EB-1: Remains unchanged with a cut-off date of February 15, 2022. EB-2: Advances 22 days with a cut-off date of October 22, 2019. EB-3: Advances 22 days with a cut-off date of January 22, 2020. India: EB-1: Remains unchanged with a cut-off date of January 1, 2017. EB-2: Remains unchanged with a cut-off date of January 1, 2012. EB-3: Remains unchanged with a cut-off date of May 1, 2012. Others: EB-1: Current for all countries except China and India. EB-2: Worldwide (All Other) remains unchanged with a cut-off date of July 15, 2022. EB-3: Worldwide (All Other) remains unchanged with a cutoff date of December 1, 2021. DATES FOR FILING (Chart B):China: EB-1: Remains unchanged with a cut-off date of August 1, 2022. EB-2: Remains unchanged with a cut-off date of January 1, 2020. EB-3: Remains unchanged with a cut-off date of September 1, 2020. India: EB-1: Remains unchanged with a cut-off date of July 1, 2019. EB-2: Remains unchanged with a cut-off date of May 15, 2012. EB-3: Remains unchanged with a cut-off date of August 1, 2012. Others: EB-1: Current for all countries except China and India. EB-2: Worldwide (All Other) remains unchanged with a cut-off date of January 1, 2023. EB-3: Worldwide (All Other) remains unchanged with a cut-off date of February 1, 2023. Data from years past show that positive movement in the Priority Dates usually occurs when supply unexpectedly outpaces demand. Except for month-to-month statistical corrections, major Visa Bulletin changes usually only occur when a significant section of potential applicants suddenly and unexpectedly do not pursue green cards. A recent example is the COVID pandemic which shut down almost all U.S. Consular Processing for green cards at Embassies which resulted in the unprecedented surge of eligibility that following year for applications at the U.S. Service Centers. Absent unexpected green card allotments becoming available, there is the possibility USCIS will exercise its policy discretion and advance the Filing Action dates to allow green card filings which may not be approvable but will at least allow status and ancillary EAD-Advance Parole benefits. Applicants who have experienced excess delays have few options for visa issuance if an I-140 priority date is no longer current or has been significantly affected by retrogression. One option is to explore “porting” or “downgrading” one's visa category. This avenue is most workable for individuals “downgrading” from EB-2 to EB-3. Since the visa cut-off dates are not completely predictable, applicants should carefully consider this option before starting the process. Some applicants may choose to watchfully wait for the next visa bulletin to make a decision. Individuals who are “current” based on the August 2023 Final Action Chart under the employment-based categories may file for adjustment of status if all other qualifications are met. Those with overseas applications can look forward to an immigrant visa issuance or the advancement of the immigrant visa process. Individuals who are “current” based on the August 2023 Visa Bulletin should act quickly to complete immigrant visa and adjustment of status application requirements as any near future retrogressions will cause additional visa issuance and adjustment of status adjudication delays. The Final Action Dates chart determines when an I-485 or IV can be approved, while the Dates for Filing Chart determines when an applicant can file an I-485. Suppose you have an Adjustment of Status (AOS) application currently pending. Your priority date must be current under the Final Action Chart to adjudicate your green card. If you are contemplating interfiling—a process that allows AOS applicants to change their preference category—don't hesitate to contact VisaNation Law Group. Family-Based Green Cards The category for family-based immigration comprises four preference levels based on who your sponsoring family member is in relation to you. There are five chargeability areas for this category: China, India, Mexico, the Philippines, and all other countries. Due to the global pandemic and limited appointments at overseas consular offices, family-based immigrant visas continue to see low usage numbers. Therefore, any unused family-based visas get added to the EB categories. Family-Based Dates for Filing Charts The Dates for Filing chart determines when an applicant can file an I-485. In the F-1 category, we see no change across the board from the November bulletin. China, India, and all other countries of chargeability remain at September 1, 2017. Mexico remains at April 1, 2005, and the Philippines remains on April 22, 2015. In the F-2A category, all countries are at September 1, 2023. In the F-2B category, China, India, and all other countries of chargeability remain at January 1, 2017. The Philippines stayed on October 1, 2013. Mexico remains at August 1, 2004. In the F-3 category, there is no change across the board. China, India, and all other countries of chargeability remain at March 1, 2010. Mexico remains at June 15, 2001 and the Philippines remains at November 8, 2003. In the F-4 category, China, and the rest of the world remain at March 1, 2008. India remains at February 22, 2006 while Mexico is at April 15, 2001 and Philippines remains at April 22, 2004. For the purposes of the December 2023 bulletin AOS, USCIS has indicated to use the Dates for Filing Chart for all family-sponsored filings. If a particular immigrant visa category is “current” on the Final Action Dates chart or the cutoff date on the Final Action Dates chart is later than the date on the Dates for Filing chart, applicants in that immigrant visa category may file using the Final Action Dates chart during that month. *The numbers in the brackets designate the amount of movement in the filing date for that particular category compared to the previous month. If there's no bracket below certain dates, there is no movement for those dates/categories in the latest visa bulletin. Family-Based Final Action Dates Chart The Final Action Dates Chart shows no changes since the last bulletin. In the F-1 category, India, China and the rest of the world remain at January 1, 2015 while Mexico advances to May 1, 2001 and the Philippines at March 1, 2012. In the F2A category, China, India and all chargeability remain at February 9, 2019. Mexico is at February 1, 2019 and Philippines is at February 8, 2019. In the F-2B category, China, India, and the rest of the world remained on September 22, 2015, while Mexico is at May 1, 2002 and the Philippines remained on October 22, 2011. In the F-3 category, China, and the rest of the world remain at January 8, 2009 while Mexico advances to March 22, 1998 and the Philipines remains at June 8, 2002. Finally, in the F-4 category, China and the rest of the world remain at April 22, 2007, India remains at October 8, 2005, and the Philippines on August 22, 2002. Mexico remains at September 15, 2000. *The numbers in the brackets designate the amount of movement in the final action date for that particular category compared to the previous month. If there's no bracket below certain dates, there is no movement for those dates/categories in the latest visa bulletin. Remember, marriage-based green card applicants, are known as immediate relatives and don't have to wait to receive a green card. Employment-Based Green Cards With five different preference levels and seven chargeability areas, USCIS issues employment-based category visas through your job or occupation. The chargeability areas are China, India, Mexico, the Philippines, Central America (Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador), Vietnam, and the general category. Employment-Based Final Action Dates Chart We see very minor changes in the Final Action Dates Chart in the employment-based category. In the EB-1 category, China is at February 15, 2022, India remains at January 1, 2017 while Mexico, Philippines and the rest of the world are current. In EB-2, we see China advance to October 22, 2019. India is at January 1, 2012 while Mexico, Philippines and the rest of the world remain at July 15, 2022. For the EB-3 category, Mexico, the Philippines, and the rest of the world are at December 1, 2012. China advances to January 22, 2020. India remains at May 1, 2012. In the EB-3 Other category, we see Mexico and the rest of the world at August 1, 2020 while China is at January 1, 2016, and Philippines at May 1, 2020. In the EB-4 category, all countries remain at January 1, 2019. For EB-5, all countries are current apart from China (10/1/15) and India (12/15/18) USCIS has specified to use the Dates for Filing Chart for all employment-based AOS Filings. Employment-Based Dates for Filing Chart Here are the December 2023 Visa Bulletin Final Action dates for employment-based immigrant visas. All countries in EB-1 are current except for China and India. China remains at August 1, 2022 and India remains at July 1, 2019. In EB-2, we see Mexico, the Philippines, and the rest of the world stay at January 1, 2023. China remains at January 1, 2020 and India remains at May 15, 2012. In the EB-3 category, Mexico and the rest of the world at February 1, 2023. China stays at September 1, 2020 and India remains at August 1, 2012. Phillipines remains on January 1, 2023. For EB-3 Other we see Mexico and the rest of the world at December 15, 2020. China remains at June 1, 2017 and India is at August 1, 2012. Philippines is at May 15, 2020. All countries in EB-4 stay at March 1, 2019. In EB-5 we see countries all current except China (January 1, 2017) and India (April 1, 2022). *The numbers in the brackets designate the amount of movement in the final action date for that particular category compared to the previous month. If there's no bracket below certain dates, there is no movement for those dates/categories in the latest visa bulletin. Important December 2023 Visa Bulletin Dates For those new to the green card process, you should learn a few terms and remember to understand the rest of this December 2023 visa bulletin report. If you have further questions about the process or anything else about your green card, you should consult with your immigration attorney. Priority Dates The first term that you'll hear thrown around is the priority date. Each person who files a petition with the USCIS receives a priority date when the government obtains your petition. A priority date establishes a person's place in line to get an immigrant visa. Keep this date handy since you will need it to compare to the dates in this bulletin. Remember that your priority date does not move, and you cannot change it except under certain circumstances. Note: Priority dates are not relevant for immediate relatives of U.S. Citizens (e.g., spouses or minor children) as that category is always current. Final Action Dates Final action dates are based on the green card category and the chargeability area—your country of origin. Therefore, the final action dates constantly change based on how many people from each chargeability area have petitioned for that green card. If green cards are still available, the final action date will likely move closer to your priority date. If green cards are unavailable, you will not see any movement from that final action date. However, if the limit has passed, you may see the date retrogress or move backward from your priority date. Once the final action date in your green card preference level and chargeability area reaches your priority date, your priority date will be considered current. Once current, you will adjust your status or go through consular processing. Date for Filing Charts and I-485 You'll notice there are two charts for each category. The Date for Filing chart determines whether or not one can submit the final immigrant visa application. The Final Action Date chart indicates whether an immigrant visa number will be available. If you need to file an adjustment of status, Form I-485, you need to follow the Final Action Date chart to know when to file based on your priority date. However, sometimes USCIS will note that they'll accept I-485s based on the Date for Filing chart. USCIS will use this chart when more immigrant visas are available than applicants. USCIS announces which chart applicants can use within a week of the visa bulletin's release. Can You Shorten Your Waiting Time? The short answer is: probably not. However, there are two prominent cases in which you may be able to shorten your green card processing time, which we will explain here. The first way is to file an I-140 for a green card and chargeability area with a current priority date. In this case, rather than wait the usual six months for your petition to be processed, you can pay an additional fee for premium processing, which will shorten the processing time to 15 calendar days. However, this is only available for certain green cards that use the I-140. It is unavailable for family- or investment-based immigration and the EB-1C or EB-2 NIW. The second situation involves green card "porting," or transferring your application from a lower preference level to a higher one to take advantage of the shorter waiting times. This is misleading because you don't port your green card. In reality, you need to start with a new petition (and a new PERM if necessary). The "porting" aspect only comes in when you indicate that you want to retain your original priority date. As attractive as "porting" might seem, it is a delicate process with particular requirements. Therefore, running decisions like these through your immigration attorney is always good. Staying Up-to-Date In the world of immigration law, it always pays to be informed. The more you know about your green card, the easier it will be to make informed decisions about your case. To stay in the know about things like the newest visa bulletin, you can subscribe to the Department of State's newsletter by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org with the message "Subscribe Visa Bulletin."