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What You Should Know About the Visa Bulletin

Written By The Shapiro Law Group on March 12, 2019

People in Illinois who have petitioned on behalf of their family members for family-based immigration visas need to understand the visa bulletin and how to read it. When people receive notice that their petitions on behalf of their loved ones have been approved, that does not mean that their family members can immediately move to the U.S. Instead, approved family-based visas are placed in order on a first-come, first-served basis in their respective categories.

What Is the Visa Bulletin?

The U.S. State Department publishes a visa bulletin every month. The bulletin contains the priority dates for which immigrant visas are available to be claimed. This means that applicants whose priority dates within their visa categories are listed in the visa bulletin are able to collect their visas so that they can move to the U.S.

Reading the Visa Bulletin

To read the visa bulletin and understand it, an immigration lawyer Chicago states that people must first know their priority dates. The priority date is the date the petition was filed, and it places the person in line. The other thing that people must know is their family preference category. Different categories of relationships between immigrants and U.S. citizens have different priorities.

The priority date is located in the top left-hand portion of the notice of approval. The notice is what was received to notify the person that the visa petition was approved.

The family preference categories are notated as follows:

  • F1- Unmarried adult daughters and sons of citizens
  • F2A- Unmarried children and spouses of residents
  • F2B- Unmarried adult children of residents
  • F3- Married children of citizens
  • F4- Siblings of adult citizens

People can then look at the visa bulletins and check their family preference categories and priority dates against the list. In the first chart, visa numbers are available for people whose priority dates are before the dates that are listed.

If people’s dates fall before the dates listed for their family preference category, they can then look at the second chart. This chart tells when people are able to apply for their visas so they can move to the U.S. Reading the visa bulletin every month when it is issued is important for citizens and residents who have petitioned on behalf of their loved ones as well as for the family members who are waiting for visas.