Major Changes in the September Visa Bulletin

The Visa Bulletin, released monthly by the US Department of State, is read by those visa petitioners still awaiting their priority dates and forward movement for their green cards. Usually, this document is mostly predictable with the occasional surprising changes, but September 2023’s bulletin brings some major news that we’ll explain here.

Family-Based Information

When you’re already living in the US awaiting a green card filing date, this section lets you know whether you should file your adjustment of status by looking at the Final Action Date or Date for Filing.

As of September, family-based applicants must follow the Dates for Filing, and employment-based applicants use the Final Action Dates.

As of August 2023, F2A applications for spouses and unmarried children under 21 of US green card holders have seen lengthened final adjudication dates. In the past, green card holder sponsors have received decisions on their cases within a few years, but the date of final action has moved from 2020 to 2017, pushing the date families can reunite with their loved ones back to seven years or longer.

This significant change is partly attributed to the backlog of visas in the system for specific categories. Let’s look at the family-based categories:

●     F-1 unmarried children 21 and older of US citizens in general category countries, China and India, continue to see a cutoff date of September 1, 2017. Mexico’s cutoff date is unchanged at April 1, 2005, and the Philippines is more current but remains at April 22, 2015. This backlog remains unchanged across the board.

●     F-2A spouses and unmarried children under 21 of US green card holders in all countries once had no wait. All have moved to September 1, 2023, adding a longer wait for green cards.

●     F-2B unmarried children 21 or older of US green card holders remain on January 1, 2017, for general categories, China and India. Mexico has a change of -2 years, moving April 1, 2002 to August 1, 2004. The Philippines remained unchanged as of October 1, 2013.

●     F-3 married children of US citizens continued unchanged on March 1, 2010, for general categories, China and India. Mexico remained as of June 15, 2001. Philippines is still on November 8, 2003.

●     F-4 siblings of US citizens remain unchanged for all countries. General category and China continued on March 1, 2008. India remained as of February 22, 2006. Mexico continued on April 15, 2001, and the Philippines was unchanged on April 22, 2004.

The major change may not look like much right now, with a date of September 1, 2023, but it is a warning sign that those applying for their children and spouses shouldn’t assume immediate processing of their visa. The date may continue to remain at September 1, and for those applying after that date, it could mean a separation of families.

Work Visas

Moving into the work visa category, there have been no major changes.

●     EB-1 extraordinary people, outstanding researchers and professors, and multinational executives and managers remained unchanged on August 1, 2023 for general category countries, Central America, Philippines, and Mexico, February 1, 2022, for China, and January 1, 2012, for India.

●     EB-2 exceptional people and advanced degree holders remains mostly unchanged for China at July 8, 2019, from June 8, 2019. General category, Mexico, Philippines, and Central America go back -3 months from April 1, 2022, to July 1, 2022. India is unchanged as of January 1, 2011.

●     EB-3 bachelor’s degree holders, skilled workers, and unskilled workers remain unchanged for General category, Central America, Mexico, and Philippines as of May 1, 2020. India is unchanged as of January 1, 2009. China is -3 months moving from June 1, 2019, to September 1, 2019.

●     No changes are found in the EB-4 special immigrant category, with General category, and China remaining as of September 1, 2018. 

●     No changes are found in the EB-5 investors categories. General category remains at no wait, and China continues on September 8, 2015.

What’s Next?

When you’re waiting for a green card for yourself or a loved one, it’s important to monitor the progress of visas in the bulletin. This can help you prepare for future changes and be ready when your time to file shows up. Having everything ready now is a wise idea, but when your dates for filing could be years from now, those documents will change.

Keep your documentation as current as possible so when your category’s filing date matches yours, you’ll be ready to file during that open window. If you have any questions about the status of your green card and how to prepare, contact our skilled immigration experts at Visa2US!

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