Breaking Down the Complexities of the Visa Bulletin: What You Need to Know

Posted on Apr 6, 2023 by Chris Prescott

The Visa Bulletin is a critical resource for anyone seeking to immigrate to the United States. This monthly publication, issued by the US Department of State (DOS), provides valuable information on the availability of immigrant visas for individuals from various countries and categories. Understanding the Visa Bulletin and its complex system of priority dates and visa allocations is essential for those looking to navigate the US immigration system.

In this article, we will provide an overview of the Visa Bulletin, explain how it works, and offer tips for using it effectively. We will also explore some of the recent changes to the Visa Bulletin and what they mean for immigrants seeking to come to the United States. By the end of this article, you should have a better understanding of the Visa Bulletin and its role in the US immigration process.

The Visa Bulletin is published monthly by the US Department of State that provides valuable information on the availability of immigrant visas for individuals from various countries and categories. The bulletin is divided into two main sections: “Final Action Dates” and “Dates for Filing Applications”.

The “Final Action Dates” section lists the priority dates for each family and employment-based preference category and country. Priority dates are the dates when the visa petitions were filed with the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) or the Department of Labor (DOL) for employment-based categories. Once a priority date becomes current, an applicant can proceed with the final stage of the visa process and apply for an immigrant visa or adjustment of status.

The “Dates for Filing Applications” section lists priority dates that are earlier than the final action dates, and it is intended to provide immigrants with more time to prepare their applications. However, it does not guarantee that a visa will be available for the applicant, as it depends on the number of available visas and demand from other applicants. Therefore, it is crucial to regularly monitor the visa bulletin to ensure that the applicant submits their application when the priority date is current.

The priority dates are determined by a complex system that considers various factors such as the category of visa, the applicant’s country of origin, and the number of available visas. The U.S. government sets annual limits on the number of visas that can be issued in each category and for each country. If the demand for visas exceeds the available supply, the priority date moves backward, and applicants will have to wait longer for their visa to become available.

In summary, the Visa Bulletin is a critical tool for immigrants looking to obtain an immigrant visa or adjust their status in the US. By monitoring the visa bulletin and understanding how the priority dates work, applicants can better prepare and plan for their immigration journey.

DOS recently released the April 2023 visa bulletin and dates in both the family- based and employment- based categories saw retrogression, compared to the previous month’s bulletin.

For example, under the “Final Action Dates,” the F-2A category (spouses and children of Permanent Residents) is no longer current.  All countries, excluding Mexico, have changed from current to September 8, 2020.  Mexico changed from current to November 1, 2018.  These countries do however remain current under the “Dates for Filing Applications.”  USCIS has stated that the filing date chart can be used for the month of April for family-based cases.

For employment- based 2nd preference India retrogressed 9 months to January 1, 2011, and Mexico, Philippines and All Chargeability areas retrogressed 4 months to July 1, 2022.

Employment- based 3rd preference increased for China by 3 months to November 1, 2018, under “Final Action Dates,” and by 5 months under the “Dates for Filing Applications.” USCIS has also stated that the filing date chart can be used for the month of April for employment-based cases.

You can continue to track the visa bulletin via the DOS website:

If you have questions regarding the visa bulletin and how this applies to your current situation, please e-mail PLG Partner at