The Visa Bulletin is a monthly publication by the United States Department of State (DOS) which lists the availability of “immigrant numbers” or Priority Dates during the month of publication. The Visa Bulletin covers three major categories: (1) Family-based immigrant visas; (2) Employment-based immigrant visas; and (3) Diversity-based immigrant visas, and indicates the availability of visas in these preference categories, and separately lists countries that may have exceeded their allocation of visas.
“Current” vs. “Oversubscribed”
If a Category is “Current” then visas are immediately available for issuance. Current categories are marked with a “C” under their chargeability area. If a category is oversubscribed, tables on the Visa Bulletin indicate this with a date, such as 15APR99 under the appropriate chargeability area. When a category is oversubscribed, only individuals with a “Priority Date” earlier than the one listed on the Visa Bulletin may be issued visas.
The Current Visa Bulletin is available here: https://travel.state.gov/content/visas/en/law-and-policy/bulletin.html
Recent Changes to the Visa Bulletin
USCIS, in coordination with the Department of State (DOS) , recently revised the procedures for determining visa availability for applicants waiting to file for employment-based or family-sponsored preference adjustment of status. Two charts per visa preference category will be posted in the Visa Bulletin:
- Application Final Action Dates (dates when visas may finally be issued); and
- Dates for Filing Applications (earliest dates when applicants may be able to apply).
Each month, in coordination with DOS, USCIS will monitor visa numbers and post the relevant DOS Visa Bulletin chart. Applicants can use the charts to determine when to file their Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status.
To determine whether additional visas are available, USCIS will compare the number of visas available for the remainder of the fiscal year with:
- Documentarily qualified visa applicants reported by DOS;
- Pending adjustment of status applications reported by USCIS; and
- Historical drop off rate (for example, denials, withdrawals, abandonments).