By CMusillo


The Visa Bulletin is a vital tool for any applicant who is qualified to receive an immigrant visa (green card) because the Visa Bulletin notifies applicants as to whether they are eligible to receive a visa number in a particular month.
Here are the top 10 things one needs to know to understand the Visa Bulletin:
  1. The employment-based (EB) visa has its own section on the Visa Bulletin where it is divided into its 5 preference categories. Every EB visa applicant falls into 1 of the 5 preference categories.
  2. There are four markings on the EB visa chart to know:
    1. C: The category is current, and every eligible applicant is eligible for a visa number.
    2. Final Action Date (FAD): Only those with priority dates before the FAD will be approved and issued an immigrant visa or green card.
    3. Dates of Filing (DOF): Those with priority dates before the DOF may be able to file their I-485 or submit their civil documents to the NVC in preparation for becoming current on the FAD.
    4. U: The category is unavailable, and no applicants may receive a number.
  3. No country may receive more than 7% of the annual worldwide visas available.
  4. Some countries have their own FAD because they are in danger of going over the 7% limit.
  5. Retrogression is when a FAD moves backwards chronologically on the next month’s Visa Bulletin, making less visa numbers available for a specific category in the coming month.
  6. The EB visa and its preference categories all have annual caps that cannot be exceeded.
  7. The Department of State (DOS) cannot allocate more than 27% of the total EB visa numbers available for the entire year in one quarter of the year. There is also a 10% limit on each month.
    1. EXAMPLE: There are 140,000 EB visa numbers for the year, then 14,000 may be given out in a month and 37,800 may be given out in a quarter.
  8. The 7% per country limit may be set aside if demand for an EB preference category is less than the visa numbers available for that quarter. This only lasts until the end of the quarter.
  9. If an EB preference category has a “C” marking for every country, then that is an indication that the DOS is issuing visa numbers regardless of an applicant’s country for that quarter.
  10. If the DOS runs out of a category before the end of the year, then the DOS will stop honoring requests for visa numbers. The category will become unavailable on the Visa Bulletin until the next government fiscal year begins.