On the chart above, "C" means current, i.e., numbers
are available for all qualified applicants; and "U"
means unavailable, i.e., no numbers are available. (Note: Numbers
are available only for applicants whose priority date is earlier
than the cut-off date listed above.)
The visa bulletin of the State Department Visa Office is a listing
of available immigrant visas which comes out once a month from the
Visa office. It informs the reader as to which dates in certain
categories are being reached for immigrant visa issuance. When an
individual is being petitioned for under the preference classes,
he or she receives a priority date upon initial filing. This scenario
can be likened to persons entering a theater in which there are
a limited number of seats for each showing. The priority date is
like a person's ticket showing his place in the line. When his or
her priority date is reached on the monthly visa bulletin, that
individual can enter the theater, or immigrate. Current rules state
that the priority date must be earlier by 1 day than the date which
is shown on the visa chart in order for persons to be interviewed
for permanent residence. If an individual is overseas, the American
consulates will make every effort to conduct the interview as soon
as the priority date becomes current. If the individual is in the
U.S., he or she can file the adjustment of status application (I-485)
once the priority date is passed by one day.
The visa chart is broken down into family and employment based
categories along with diversity visas. U.S. citizens can apply for
their unmarried sons and daughters over the age of 21 under the
first family preference, for their married sons and daughters under
the third family preference, and for their brothers and sisters
under the fourth family preference. Lawful permanent residents can
apply for their spouses and children under the age of 21 under the
2A family preference, and for their unmarried sons and daughters
over the age of 21 under the 2B family category.
For employment based immigrant visas, individuals who are considered
extraordinary, outstanding teachers or researchers, or intracompany
transferees can use the first employment preference. Those individuals
holding an advanced degree (or its equivalent) or who are exceptional
can immigrate under the second employment preference so long as
their immigration is deemed to be in the national interest. Also
those individuals with advanced decrees or the equivalent of such
fall under the second employment category so long as they have applied
for and received a labor certification, and the labor certification
requires the degree or its equivalent. Skilled workers occupy the
third employment preference, skilled being defined as a position
requiring at least 2 years of experience. The E W or other worker
category is assigned to unskilled workers whose positions require
less than 2 years of experience. Religious workers who meet the
requirements of the category fall under the fourth employment category;
and investors who invest at least the required statutory amount
(1 million in most areas and $500,000 in other locations depending
upon the areas being rural, having high unemployment, or being regional
investment centers) and hire at least 10 U.S. workers fit under
the fifth employment category.
Other than these categories, 50,000 immigrant visas are given each
year to persons in countries which have not been the principal sources
of recent immigration to the U.S. China is barred from participating
in this category. This category is usually called the visa lottery.
Winners of the lottery are notified by the Department of State;
all others receive no notice. The priority of each winner is determined
by the rank number of the individual rather than the priority date.
That is because, under the visa lottery, all applications are sent
in at approximately the same time.
In this web site, we will provide the visa bulletin as set forth
by the State Department each month in order that readers can keep
track of their cases, and determine when action needs to be done.