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What is the Visa Bulletin?

— March 10, 2021

The process of getting a Visa is a long one, and it is longer still if you want a permanent residence card or green card.”

In spite of all of its recent problems, the United States remains a major draw for people all over the world. It is a land of abundance, and its laws allow for the kind of self-expression that some governments do not permit. It is a place where an ordinary person can earn unlimited wealth and respect if they are willing to work hard. 

When a relative or potential employee of a United States citizen wants to come to America, they must first obtain an immigrant Visa. Visa applicants are sorted by their relationship to the United States citizen who is sponsoring them, their country of origin, and the reason for wanting the Visa in the first place. There are a certain number of visas issued for each category of applicant per year. 

The Visa Bulletin is an online resource that will tell you when you can move forward in the Visa process.

Each year, there are more immigrant visa applications than there are visas. Hence there is a backlog. The State Department issues the Visa Bulletin, which is a monthly online publication that keeps track of visa availability within this backlog. If an applicant does not have access to the internet, they can call (202) 485-7699 for updated information.

Categories of Visa Applications

Family of four; image by Gustavo Alves, via
Family of four; image by Gustavo Alves, via

There are three main categories of applicants for visas listed on the bulletin: diversity immigrants, family-sponsored immigrants, and employer-sponsored immigrants.

Family immigrant visas are processed on a first-come-first-serve basis. Unmarried children who are under 21, spouses, and parents of US citizens have an unlimited number of visas available to them, so they will not need to check the bulletin. 

Brothers and sisters of citizens are at the bottom of the list when it comes to getting a family visa, and they may have to check the bulletin. You will also need to check the bulletin if your employer is sponsoring your visa.

When you fill out a petition for a green card, the department puts it into a system. The petitions are processed in chronological order. When you go on the bulletin’s website, you can track the progress of your I-130 petition. It normally comes out on the third or fourth week of the month. 

Reading the Bulletin

Reading the Visa bulletin can be a bit confusing at first. Shortly after filing for your green card, you will get a green card notice with a priority date on it. The priority date is the day on which your Visa was filed. It will also have a reception date.

The bulletin website will display the status of available visas in different categories for a multitude of different countries. When you look at the bulletin, you will want to locate the grid for your category of immigration and your country of origin. 

Once you have located your grid, you will see that some priority dates have a “current” status. When your priority date has a current status, it means there is a visa available in your category. If a Visa is available in your category, you have a chance of getting that Visa. You can then proceed with the application process. 

The process of getting a Visa is a long one, and it is longer still if you want a permanent residence card or green card.” it is important to check the bulletin board regularly and to consult with an immigration attorney. A trained attorney can help you begin your American adventure.

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