What is a Visa Bulletin? 

Visa bulletin is updated/ issued every month by the DHS (The Department of State). It shows which visa applications can move forward based on  priority dates. It’s usually what your attorneys are referring to when they talk about visa/ green card availability. You can check your visa availability at the link below. 

Check the visa bulletin


How to read the visa bulletin

The US Congress has set a limit of 366,000 green card (quota) availability per year.  However, this is not as simple as it seems. There are a specific number of quotas available for each of the two major categories. Family based petitions are allocated 226,000 quotas of which are further broken down into several smaller categories. Additionally, employment based green cards are allocated 140,000 which are also broken down into several categories. 

First, let’s look at the family-based petition categories. 

* One thing to remember is that there is no cap on the number of green cards available to the immediate relatives (spouse, parents, unmarried minor children- under age 21). This means that the visa bulletin does not apply to them. Their green card availability will always be current. 

The caps on family-based green cards are broken down into four primary “preference categories”.

F1 (first preference): Unmarried adults (age 21 and over) who are children of U.S. citizens. Cap: 23,400 green cards annually 

F2 (second preference): Spouses and unmarried children of green card holders. Cap: 114,200 green cards  annually

F2 is split into two subcategories. 

F2A: Spouses and unmarried minor children (under age 21) of green card holders. Cap: 87,934 green cards annually. 

F2B: Unmarried adult children (age 21 and over) of green card holders. Cap: 26,266 green cards annually.

F3 (third preference): Married children of U.S. citizens. Cap: 23,400 green cards  annually. 

F4 (fourth preference): Brothers and sisters of U.S. citizens. Cap: 65,000 green cards annually.