Each month the Department of State releases a visa bulletin which is used to determine a prospective immigrant’s place in line before they are eligible to apply for their visa to come to the United States pursuant to the visa quota.
You will be able to access the current visa bulletin HERE.
First, to read the visa bulletin, you will need to determine the prospective immigrant’s preference category. The following are the types of family-sponsored preference categories:
1. F1 – Unmarried Sons and Daughters of US citizens
2. F2A – Spouses and children of Permanent Residents
3. F2B – Unmarried sons and daughters (21 years of age or older) of Permanent Residents
4. F3 – Married sons and daughters of US citizens
5. F4 Brothers and sisters of adult US citizens
After finding the row containing the preference category on the visa bulletin chart, determine the country of the prospective immigrant’s country of nationality or citizenship. If you are not sure which preference category pertains to your case, please contact an experienced immigration attorney.
If the prospective immigrant’s country of citizenship or nationality is neither China, India, Mexico, or the Philippines then they will need to look at the column “All Chargeability Areas Except Those Listed”.
The column (country of the prospective immigrant) and row (preference category) will intersect and provide you with a date — that date means visa numbers are available to those in the preference category with priority dates on or prior to that listed date.
If you see a “C” in your preference category, then that means that the visa numbers are now current. A “U” means that visa numbers are currently unavailable for the group in that preference category.
Second, you will need to determine your priority date to see whether the prospective immigrant’s visa number is current or not. Your priority date will be on your I-130 petition approval notice in the section that says “Priority Date”.
If your priority date is not current, then you will need to wait until it becomes current. Visa numbers change month-to-month so it is important that you check the visa bulletin often.