How to read the Visa Bulletin

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How to read the Visa Bulletin?

A very common subject of discussion among the US immigration applicants is How to read the Visa Bulletin. It is important to understand how it works as the visa bulletin lets you know when is the time to take action and claim your green card. To read the visa bulletin, you'll need to know your Family Preference category and priority date. Applicants priority date is the date when he or she has filed the I-130. Finding Priority date is easy as it is mentioned on the I-797 Notice of Action. When your priority date becomes current, your immigrant visa will be available to claim. Let's understand how to read Visa? Bulleting through an example, elaborated below.

Family Sponsored All Chargeability�Areas Except Those Listed CHINA-mainland born INDIA MEXICO PHILIPPINES
F1 08JAN12 08JAN12 08JAN12 08AUG97 15MAY07
F2A 15MAY17 15MAY17 15MAY17 01MAY17 15MAY17
F2B 01FEB13 01FEB13 01FEB13 15FEB98 01OCT07
F3 08NOV06 08NOV06 08NOV06 15FEB96 08OCT96
F4 15FEB06 15FEB06 01AUG04 08FEB98 01MAR97

First you need to check the date at the top, which shows the month to which this visa bulletin is relevant. Each month a new Visa Bulletin is issued and most of the information changes every month, thus it is important that you check it each month.

Next you have to find your preference visa category and for that check along the left side of the bulletin chart. Across the top you will find area of chargeability which is a list of countries. The first category shows all chargeability areas except those listed. It is known as the worldwide category; it actually includes all the countries which are not separately listed. For an example except the countries mentioned in the chart like Argentina, it is not mentioned separately in the bulletin, which means that a person from Argentina should consider the dates listed in the All chargeability column. Luckily the countries that falls into this category usually have shortest waiting periods. Those who are from the countries listed separately in the list like, China, India, Mexico or The Philippines must consider the country's column to get information.

The rule of reading Visa Bulletin:

If the Priority date falls before the date listed it means the visa is now available and client can immediately apply for his or her permanent resident status. If the Priority date falls on or after the date list, it means no visa is available to the client that month and he or she have to wait longer.

Example: Look at the given Visa bulletin. Karuna born in India in 1976. Her brother who is a U.S Citizen, filed visa petition under F4 Category for her. Petition was approved in July 2004 the priority date for F4 visa petitions from India chart is 1 st August 2004. Karuna's priority date July 2004 is before the priority date listed in the visa bulletin. Therefore, Karuna is eligible to immigrate now.

Though you have seen that to read a Visa bulletin correctly you should be aware of your priority date and your Family preference category. One can easily determine his or her family preference category, it is based on the relationship with the petitioner. Check the chart below for better understanding:

Relationship Category
adult Unmarried sons and daughters (age 21 or over) of U.S. citizens F1
unmarried children (under 21) and Wife or Husband of permanent residents F2A
Unmarried adult daughters and sons of Green Card Holders F2B
Married sons and daughters (any age) of U.S. citizens F3
Brothers and sisters of adult U.S. citizens F4