Visa Bulletin: What You Need to Know (April 2024 Update)

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What Is the Visa Bulletin?

The Visa Bulletin is a monthly release by the Department of State that shows the cut-off dates for citizens and green card holders who are looking to sponsor a family member or bring a spouse to the USA, and the family members who are being sponsored by a U.S.-based relative. This helps determine how long you might wait to receive a visa.

The April 2024 Visa Bulletin update, for example, provides information on F2A visa categories for spouses and children of permanent residents. It details when applicants from different countries can expect their visas to be processed. The bulletin also highlights the expiration of the non-minister special immigrant program (SR category) on March 21, 2024.

If you’re unsure about your priority date or have questions about the Visa Bulletin, this guide can help clarify the basics. Read on to learn how Andrew T. Thomas, Attorneys at Law, can help you navigate the complexities of immigration law and secure your immigrant visa petition.

 

What Is the Purpose of the Visa Bulletin?

 

The Department of State’s National Visa Center is the governmental body responsible for the visa bulletin. The bulletin’s main objective is to give quota-restricted immigrants access to a current waiting list and visa availability information. It is easily accessible online and regularly updated.

It is important to access the most recent bulletin to determine your priority and final action dates. A visa will only be issued to applicants with a priority date earlier than the final action date or cut-off date listed in the bulletin.

An applicant’s priority date is based on the filing date of Form I-130: Petition for Alien Relative. The visa bulletin notes current priority dates and indicates when applicants can move ahead with filing visa applications.

Visa Bulletin Updates

 

The Department of State typically updates the visa bulletin on a monthly basis. These updates are based on calculations of the current backlog of petitions and the projected dates when more immigrant visas will become available. You can use the visa bulletin to determine if your priority date is current.

Your priority date determines your exact position in line. When your priority date becomes current, you have technically reached the top of the list for available visas in your category. The monthly visa bulletin provides the current priority dates and final action dates. This information ultimately indicates who is eligible to claim their immigrant visa.

 

Visa Bulletin Categories

 

An applicant’s relationship to their sponsor determines their visa bulletin category. Priority for immigrant visas varies. The following family preference categories are included in the visa bulletin:

  • F1 – Unmarried sons and daughters (age 21 or over) of US citizens

  • F2A – Spouses and unmarried children (under age 21) of lawful permanent residents

  • F2B – Unmarried adult sons and daughters of lawful permanent residents

  • F3 – Married sons and daughters (age 21 or over) of US citizens

  • F4 – Brothers and sisters of US citizens

If none of these categories apply to your familial situation, it may be because you are considered an “immediate relative” or you are not eligible for a family-sponsored visa.

Immediate relatives are the spouse, parent, or unmarried child (under age 21) of a US citizen. There is no yearly cap on the total number of visas awarded to immediate relatives. Since IR visas do not have an annual quota, they are not included in the visa bulletin.

The visa bulletin also lists the availability of employment-based visas for certain qualified immigrants. The employment-based visa categories listed in the visa bulletin are:

  • EB-1 – Priority workers

  • EB-2 – Professionals with advanced degrees

  • EB-3 – Professionals and other workers

  • EB-4 – Religious workers

  • EB-4 – Special immigrant juveniles

  • EB-5 – Investors

Additionally, countries like India, Mexico, the Philippines, and mainland China have separate columns in the visa bulletin. This is because their demand for green cards is greater than the 7% cap set for all other countries.

Your priority date is based on the filing date of your Form I-130: Petition for Alien Relative. The visa bulletin will note what priority dates for filing are current and indicate when applicants can move ahead with filing visa applications.

How Do I Check My Priority Date?

Your priority date is the date the I-130 petition was received by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). Your priority date can also be found on the I-797 document that USCIS sends the applicant after accepting the I-130 petition.

How Can I Expedite My Visa Application?

You may be eligible for an expedited consular interview if you have unexpected circumstances that meet certain special conditions, such as a medical emergency. You should submit documentation and proof of these conditions before you request an expedited appointment. You can only submit one request for an expedited appointment and, if it is found that your reasons are exaggerated or misrepresented, it could hurt your visa application.

Expedited Appointment Process

  • Step 1: Pay the application fee for the visa.

  • Step 2: Fill out and submit the Nonimmigrant Visa Electronic Application or DS-160 form.

  • Step 3: After submitting your DS-160 form online, you will be prompted to make an appointment reservation for the earliest available time slot. It is important to note that there may not be an expedited appointment available earlier than your current scheduled visa interview time.

  • Step 4: If your expedited application is approved, you will be notified via email to book your expedited appointment online.

  • Step 5: Go to your appointment at the U.S. embassy or consulate on the scheduled date and time, and bring the following items:

    • Appointment letter (hardcopy);

    • DS-160 confirmation page;

    • Current passport (and previous passports);

    • Updated personal picture.

How Do I Check My Priority Date?

 

Your priority date is the date the I-130 petition was received by US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). It can also be found on the I-797 document that USCIS sends to the applicant after accepting the I-130 petition.

 

How Can I Expedite My Visa Application?

 

You may be eligible for an expedited consular interview if your unexpected circumstances meet certain special conditions, such as a medical emergency.

You should submit documentation and proof of these conditions before you request an expedited appointment. You can only submit one request for an expedited appointment, and if it is found that your reasons are exaggerated or misrepresented, it could hurt your visa application.

 

Expedited Appointment Process

  • Step 1: Pay the application fee for the visa.

  • Step 2: Fill out and submit the Nonimmigrant Visa Electronic Application or DS-160 form.

  • Step 3: After submitting your DS-160 form online, you will be prompted to make an appointment reservation for the earliest available time slot. It is important to note that an expedited appointment may not be available earlier than your current scheduled visa interview time.

  • Step 4: If your expedited application is approved, you will be notified via email to book your expedited appointment online.

  • Step 5: Go to your appointment at the US embassy or consulate on the scheduled date and time, and bring the following items:

    • Appointment letter (hardcopy);

    • DS-160 confirmation page;

    • Current passport (and previous passports);

    • Updated personal picture.

 

Let Andrew T. Thomas, Attorneys at Law, Help You Through the Immigration Process

 

At Andrew T. Thomas, Attorneys at Law, we believe that everyone should achieve their ideal standard of living as simply as possible. Our law firm is committed to helping you track your citizenship, residency, or immigrant visa application.

We are pleased to offer our services to immigrants and noncitizens living inside and outside the country. Our mission is to successfully guide our clients through the challenging US immigrant visa application process. For those already residing in the United States, we can help with your adjustment status application.

Call us at 972-200-2850 to learn how we can help you reunite with your family in the United States.

 

Frequently Asked Questions

 

What Is the 2024 Fiscal Year Limit for Family-Sponsored Preference Visas?

The 2024 fiscal year runs from October 1, 2023, until September 30, 2024. A limit of 226,000 family-sponsored preference visas is available for FY 2024. The number of visas available annually is determined by Section 201 of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA).

What Do I Need to Do if I Am Already in the US?

If you are eligible to apply for a green card, you may apply for an adjustment of status without leaving the country. This also allows you to apply for work and travel permits.