T he visa bulletin has four charts which explain where you are in the line for a green card.

  1. Family. Final action dates for family-sponsored preference cases
  2. Family. Dates for filing family-sponsored visa applications
  3. Employment. Final action dates for employment-based preference cases
  4. Employment. Dates For Filing Of Employment-Based Visa Applications

The purpose of each chart

What each chart is for.

  • The first two charts are for family green cards. The last two charts are for employment green cards.
  • The final action date charts are used by applicants who are in the US and wish to adjust their status. If your priority date is before the cutoff date, you can file your Adjustment of Status, I-485, petition. I’m not clear if this is when you can file the I-485 (or if you file the I-485 whenever you want to make the change and the final action date means you can seek approval of the I-485).
  • The date of filing charts is used by applicants who in other countries – and seek admission through a general consular office.
  • The final action date charts (for both family and employment) indicate which priority date has reached the front of the line. For example, if the chart says 08JUL15, that means green card applications filed before July 8, 2015, can now apply for approval. Applicants who qualify should apply for their green card immediately.
    • If the final action chart has a “C” – that means Current – numbers are authorized for issuance to all qualified applicants.
    • If the final action chart has a “U” – that means unauthorized – numbers aren’t authorized to file for green cards.
  • The date of filing charts (one for family and one for employment) indicate the dates which applicants for immigrant visas who have a priority date earlier than the application date in the chart may assemble and submit required documents to the Department of State’s National Visa Center, following receipt of notification from the National Visa Center containing detailed instructions. Green card applicants who are living outside of the United States should go ahead and submit their application with the National Visa Center (NVC)—even though a green card is not ready just yet.
    • The cut-off dates in the ‘dates for filing’ chart are slightly later (1-10 months) than those in the ‘final action dates’ chart, which allows green card applicants to file their applications that much sooner.
    • The “C” listing indicates that the category is current and that applications may be filed regardless of the applicant’s priority date. The listing of a date for any category indicates that only applicants with a priority date that is earlier than the listed date may file their application.

How to read the charts

Column 1. All four charts identify the type of preference in the first column. This is where you begin determining your place in the line. You need to look to see which category applies to you.

Column 2. This column is labeled “All Chargeability Areas Except Those Listed” on all four charts. It is your place in line. If your priority date is before this date (unless you are from a country listed in the other parts of the chart), you can proceed to file for a green card or an immigration visa. You can also proceed if the column is marked C.

Columns 3, 4, 5, 6, and higher numbers. These columns are for those people who live in the identified countries. There are different cut-off dates for people from China, India, Mexico, and the Philippines. Other countries may be listed too. For example, the employment charts for the December 2020 Visa Bulletin list El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras (in one column) and Vietnam (in another column).

Here is the Final Action Date “Family” chart for the December 2020 Visa Bulletin.

[It’s up to you if you want to copy and paste the other charts.]

Visa Bulletin

Consular Processing and Adjustment of Status

  • Consular Processing. “Date for Filing” means that green card applicants outside the US (applicants through consular processing) can begin assembling and submitting the required documents to the National Visa Center. This way, the NVC has everything they need – once your priority date is in the “final action dates “chart (and a green card is available for you).
  • Adjustment of Status. This processing is for green card applicants already in America. These applicants are seeking a green card through an I-485 application. The “dates for filing” chart means you can “simultaneously apply for a work permit (employment authorization document) and travel permit (advance parole document).” These benefits can be very valuable for applicants who intend to work in the US or travel outside the US – while waiting for their green card.

Summary

The key steps for an applicant (be sure to check with an immigration lawyer) are:

  • View the Visa Bulletin for the Current month
  • Determine your Family-based or Employment-based category
  • Determine your country of origin
  • Review your priority date
  • Look at the chart that applies to you
  • Check to see the changeability date
  • If your priority date is before the chargeability date, you can proceed
  • If the chargeability date is marked “C,” you can proceed
  • Otherwise, you need to wait.

For help understanding Visa Bulletin charts, call Herman Legal Group at 1 (800) 808-4013 or complete our contact form to speak with us.

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