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Each month, the Department of State (DOS) releases a Visa Bulletin that advises on the availability of immigrant visas. The United States regulates immigration by capping the number of foreign nationals welcomed into the country each year. Each person must have his/her own personal immigrant visa number in order to live permanently in the United States. A foreign national can seek an Immigrant Visa at a U.S. Consulate outside the U.S., or file for an Adjustment of Status with USCIS inside the U.S.
Only a limited number of immigrant visas are available in each category. Immigrant Visas are also limited by the country of chargeability, which is normally the country where the immigrant is born. Those who are eligible for a family based immigrant visa petition (I-130) fall into "preference" category and must wait in line for their category and country of chargeability to accept new applicants.
When the Visa Bulletin states that the immigrant's category is Current (C), no backlog exists in this category for that month. If a category is listed as Unavailable (U), applications will not be accepted for new permanent residents in that category for that month. A foreign national with a birth country other than India, China, Mexico or the Philippines must use the "world-wide" dates to determine whether their priority date is current.
To receive an immigrant visa or an adjustment of status, you must have a priority date prior to the listed date for your category and country, as shown in this chart.
|Family-Sponsored||All Charge-ability Areas Except Those Listed||China-mainland born||India||Mexico||Philippines|
|F1||01 NOV 07||01 NOV 07||01 NOV 07||15 NOV 94||15 MAR 00|
|F2A||15 DEC 13||15 DEC 13||15 DEC 13||01 NOV 13||15 DEC 13|
|F2B||15 NOV 08||15 NOV 08||15 NOV 08||08 APR 95||22 MAY 04|
|F3||08 APR 04||08 APR 04||08 APR 04||22 APR 94||22 AUG 93|
|F4||01 DEC 02||01 DEC 02||01 DEC 02||01 MAR 97||15 JAN 92|
*NOTE: August, F2A numbers EXEMPT from per-countrylimit are available to applicants from all countries with priority dates earlier than 01 NOV 13. F2A numbers SUBJECT to per-country limit are available to applicants chargeable to all countries EXCEPT MEXICO with priority dates beginning 01 NOV 13 and earlier than 15 DEC 13. (All F2A numbers provided for MEXICO are exempt from the per-country limit; there are no F2A numbers for MEXICO subject to per-country limit.)
First Preference: Unmarried Sons and Daughters of Citizens: 23,400 plus any numbers not required for fourth preference.
Second Preference: Spouses and Children, and Unmarried Sons and Daughters of Permanent Residents: 114,200, plus the number (if any) by which the worldwide family preference level exceeds 226,000, a nd any unused first preference numbers:
Third Preference: Skilled Workers, Professionals, and Other Workers: 28.6% of the worldwide level, plus any numbers not required by first and second preferences, not more than 10,000 of which to "Other Workers".
A. Spouses and Children: 77% of the overall second preference limitation, of which 75% are exempt from the per-country limit.
B. Unmarried Sons and Daughters (21 years of age or older): 23% of the overall second preference limitation.
Third Preference: Married Sons and Daughters of Citizens: 23,400, plus any numbers not required by first and second preferences.
Fourth Preference: Brothers and Sisters of Adult Citizens: 65,000, plus any numbers not required by first three preferences
INA Section 203(e) provides that family-sponsored preference visas be issued to eligible immigrants in the order in which a petition in behalf of each has been filed. Section 203(d) provides that spouses and children of preference immigrants are entitled to the same status, and the same order of consideration, if accompanying or following to join the principal. The visa prorating provisions of Section 202(e) apply to allocations for a foreign state or dependent area when visa demand exceeds the per-country limit. These provisions apply at present to the following oversubscribed chargeability areas: CHINA-mainland born, INDIA, MEXICO, and PHILIPPINES.