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What is the Visa Bulletin?

In this segment, attorney Jacob J. Sapochnick tells you all about the visa bulletin. Who is it for? How does it work? Why do we need it? For more information about the visa bulletin, please click here.

Overview: 

What is the Visa Bulletin?

The Visa Bulletin exists due to congressional numerical immigrant visa limitations for family-sponsored and employment-based preference categories established by the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA). The visa bulletin is for foreign nationals wishing to immigrate to the United States through a relative or employer. Family-sponsored preference categories are limited to a minimum of 226,000 visas per year, while employment-based preference categories are limited to a minimum of 140,000 visas per year. The Visa Bulletin is a useful tool for aliens to determine when a visa will become available to them so that they may apply for permanent residence.

You can check the status of a visa number by checking your priority date on the Department of State’s Visa Bulletin published every month. A priority date is the date when your relative or employer properly filed the immigrant visa petition on your behalf with USCIS (Form I-130 Petition for Alien Relative or Form I-140 Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker).

Family-sponsored preference categories

Family based immigrant visas are divided into preference systems and priority dates. This refers to one of the various categories under which an individual qualifies for U.S. residency, and must wait for a visa to become available.

  • First Preference: unmarried sons and daughters of U.S. citizens. This category refers to the adult children of U.S. citizens or those who have reached the age of 21 years prior to issuance of the immigrant visa;
  • Second Preference: a) spouses and children under the age of 21 of U.S. permanent residents; b) unmarried sons and daughters over the age of 21 of U. S. permanent residents;
  • Third Preference: married sons and daughters of U.S. citizens;
  • Fourth Preference: brothers and sisters of adult U.S. citizens.

Employment-sponsored categories

  • First Preference:  Priority Workers:  28.6% of the worldwide employment-based preference level, plus any numbers not required for fourth and fifth preferences.
  • Second Preference:  Members of the Professions Holding Advanced Degrees or Persons of Exceptional Ability:
  • Third Preference:  Skilled Workers, Professionals, and Other Workers
  • Fourth Preference:  Certain Special Immigrants
  • Fifth Preference:  Employment Creation: not less than 3,000 of which reserved for investors in a targeted rural or high-unemployment area, and 3,000 set aside for investors in regional centers (EB-5)

For more information regarding the immigrant process for family members and the Visa Bulletin please click here. For a legal consultation please contact our office to speak with our legal consultants.

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