You may have seen articles discussing next month’s “Visa Bulletin” and what it means for employment-based visa preference categories. But what is the Visa Bulletin in the first place and what’s so interesting about the September 2019 Bulletin publication?
The Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) sets limits on the number of immigrant visas which can be issued each year. Eligibility for an immigrant visa or permanent residency in the United States (a.k.a. “the green card”) depends partly on the particular visa preference category under which they fall as well as when the petition on their behalf was filed and on demand for the green card in the individual’s “chargeability” country. The visa preference category is the sub-category under which one qualifies for the green card (e.g. F-1, F-2B in the family immigration context or EB-1, EB-2, EB-3 in the employment immigration context). The country of chargeability is generally the country of birth of the applicant (or in some instances that of their spouse or parent). Thus, visa category, country of birth, and the petition filing date known as an individual’s “priority date” directly impact the processing time (or time on the wait list) for the green card. The policy applies to both family-based green card sponsorship, which involves filing a Form I-130 sponsorship petition, and employment-based sponsorship categories, which usually involves filing a Form I-140 sponsorship petition (or an I-526 Investor Petition for the EB-5 category).