March 2021 visa bulletin

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 that 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 2021 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 2021 Visa Bulletin: Overview and Predictions

Minor Movement to Final Action Cutoff Dates In Family-Based Category, Advancement in the Cutoff Date for EB-2 India and China. 

We see some movement forward in the family-based Final Action Dates Chart for Mexico. Mexico advances to May 8, 1999, in the F-1 category and moves to July 1, 2000, in the F-2B category. In the F-3 category, it moves to July 15, 1997, while in the F-4 category it moves to March 15, 1999. There is no change seen for any other country across preference categories. In the F-2A category, all countries are current.

For the Dates for Filing chart, we see some minor changes as well—all countries in the F-2A category advance by three months. Mainland China, India, Mexico, the Philippines, and the rest of the world are now at September 1, 2021. Mexico advances to January 1, 2021, in the F-2B category and August 1, 1999, in the F-4 category.

In the Employment-Based Dates for Filing Chart, we see changes for EB-2 India and China. China advances to April 4, 2019, while India moves to July 8, 2013. We see no change in EB-3 China or India dates. The remaining preference categories across countries apart from EB-4 Central America (cutoff date May 15, 2019) are current.

To clarify, 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. In addition, the U.S. Department of State has created a new monthly Visa Bulletin video, led by Charlie Oppenheim, Chief of the Visa Control and Reporting Division, to expand on the insights contained within the visa bulletin.

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 family-based visas that are unused 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. We see no changes at all since the release of the October Visa Bulletin.

For the purposes of the December 2021 bulletin Adjustment of Status, USCIS has not yet indicated to use the Dates for Filing chart or the Final Action Chart for Family-Sponsored preference categories. Check back at a later time for updated information. 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.

Category

Rest of the
World

Mainland

China

India

Mexico

Phillipines

F-1

5/15/16

(no change)

5/15/16

(no change)

5/15/16

(no change)

12/01/00

(+4 months)

4/22/15

(no change)

F-2A

09/01/21

(+3 months)

09/01/21

(+3 months)

09/01/21

(+3 months)

09/01/21

(+3 months)

09/01/21

(+3 months)

F-2B

09/22/16

(no change)

09/22/16

(no change)

09/22/16

(no change)

1/01/21

(+3 months)

10/01/13

(no change)

F-3

08/22/09

(no change)

08/22/09

(no change)

08/22/09

(no change)

09/08/00

(no change)

10/01/03

(no change)

F-4

10/01/07

(no change)

10/01/07

(no change)

1/01/06

(no change)

08/01/99

(+2 months)

02/1/04

(no change)

*The numbers in the brackets designate the amount of movement in the date of filing for that particular category compared to the previous month. If there’s no bracket below certain dates, that means there is no movement for those dates/categories in the latest visa bulletin.

Family-Based Final Action Date Charts

Here are the final action dates for family-based immigrant visas from the December 2021 visa bulletin. We see some movement for Mexico across preference categories. All countries in the F-2A category are current. No changes are seen for any country in the F-4 category.

Category

Rest of the
World

Mainland

China

India

Mexico

Phillipines

F-1

12/01/14

(no change)

12/01/14

(no change)

12/01/14

(no change)

5/8/99

(+3 months

24 days)

3/1/12

(no change)

F-2A

Current

Current

Current

Current

Current

F-2B

09/22/15

(no change)

09/22/15

(no change)

09/22/15

(no change)

07/1/00

(+ 3 month 17 days)

10/22/11

(no change)

F-3

11/22/08

(no change)

11/22/08

(no change)

11/22/08

(no change)

7/15/97

(+2 months)

06/08/02

(no change)

F-4

3/22/07

(no change)

3/22/07

(no change)

9/15/05

(no change)

3/15/99

(+36 days)

08/22/02

(no change)

*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, that means 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, the employment-based category is issued 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 some movement in the December 2021 employment-based Final Action Dates Chart compared to the November bulletin. The cutoff date for EB-2 India moves past EB-3 India by five months since no change is seen for EB-3 India. EB-2 China moves to January 1, 2019, while EB-2 India moves to May 1, 2012. All countries are current in EB-5 and EB-1 categories. You’ll notice that EB-5 for regional center cases is unavailable because the program expired. The only change seen in the EB-4 category is for Central America, which advances over seven months to March 15, 2019. If Congress does not take action by December 2, 2021, the EB-4 program for certain religious workers will end, and the category will no longer be available beginning December 3, 2021.

USCIS has not yet specified whether to use the Dates for Filing Chart in the Department of State December Visa Bulletin for all employment-based preference categories. Check back for updates. 


Rest of
the World

Mainland

China

India

Mexico

Phillipines

Central

America

EB-1

Current

Current

Current

Current

Current

Current

EB-2

Current

1/1/19

(+48 days) 

5/01/12

(+5 months)

Current

Current

Current

EB-3

Current

03/22/18

(no change)

1/15/12

(no change)

Current

Current

Current

EB-3

Other

Current

3/01/12

(+2 years)

1/15/12

(no change)

Current

Current

Current

EB-4

Current

Current

Current

4/1/20

(no change)

Current

03/15/19

(+7 months

15 days)

EB-5

Current 

Current

Current 

Current 

Current

Current 

Employment-Based Dates for Filing Chart

Here are the December 2021 Visa Bulletin Final Action dates for employment-based immigrant visas. In the Dates for Filing chart, we see some movement in the EB-2 category. All the countries are current in the EB-1 category. EB-2 India advances by six months to July 8, 2013. EB-2 China increases by two months to April 1, 2019. In the EB-3 category, we see no change. All countries are current apart from India (January 22, 2012) and China (April 1, 2018). Finally, all countries are current in EB-4 apart from Central America, which remains at May 15, 2019.

Category

Rest of
the World

Mainland

China

India

Mexico

Phillipines

Central

America

EB-1

Current

Current

Current

Current

Current

Current

EB-2

Current

4/01/19

(+ 2 months)

7/08/13

(+ 6 months)

Current

Current

Current

EB-3

Current

04/1/18

(no change)

1/22/12

(no change)

Current

Current

Current

EB-3

Other

Current

5/01/15

(no change)

1/22/12

(no change)

Current

Current

Current

EB-4

Current

Current

Current

Current

Current

5/15/19

(no change)

EB-5

Current 

Current

Current 

Current 

Current

Current 

*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, that means there is no movement for those dates/categories in the latest visa bulletin.

 

Important November 2021 Visa Bulletin Dates

For those that are new to the green card process, there are a few terms that you should learn and keep in mind to understand the rest of this November 2021 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, which is the day that the government obtained 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 found 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 are constantly changing based on how many people from each chargeability area have petitioned for that particular green card.

If the limit for that green card has not been reached, then the final action date will likely move forward closer to your priority date. If the limit has been reached, you will not see any movement from that final action date. If the limit has been passed, you may see the date retrogress or move backward away 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,” and you will be able to adjust your status or go through consular processing to obtain your green card. Some of the dates are already current, which means that you can get your green card as soon as your petition is approved without having to wait for your priority date.

Date for Filing Charts and I-485

You’ll notice two charts below 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 or not it is expected that 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 is based on your priority date. However, sometimes USCIS will note that they’ll accept I-485s based on the Date for Filing chart. This is done when there are more immigrant visas 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 have to wait the usual six months for your petition to be processed, you can opt to 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 not available for family- or investment-based immigration and unavailable for 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 a bit misleading because you don’t actually port your green card. In reality, you need to start over 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 very delicate process with particular requirements. Therefore, it is always a good idea to run decisions like these through your immigration attorney.

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 March 2021 visa bulletin, you can subscribe to the Department of State’s newsletter by emailing [email protected] with the message “Subscribe Visa Bulletin.”

How VisaNation Can Help 

Schedule a Consultation

With these priority date waiting times being so long, it's imperative that your first attempt is done the right way. VisaNation Law Group attorneys have extensive experience helping people obtain green cards through their families and through their employment and can help you avoid the common pitfalls.