By Carlos Gamino. Click here for audio version.

If you’re planning to apply for a family-based green card, you’ll need to read the visa bulletin each month to find out which green card applications can move forward. But how do you read the visa bulletin, and what does it tell you? Find out now.

How Do You Read the Visa Bulletin?

The visa bulletin is a monthly update issued by the U.S. State Department. The bulletin contains information on which green card applications can move forward next, and the data is based on when an I-130 petition was filed to begin the process. The bulletin also allows you to estimate how long it will take for you to get your green card – and though circumstances can change, it generally provides a good snapshot.

Related: What is an E-2 visa?

The reason the visa bulletin is necessary is that there are limits on how many green cards are available each year. Each preference category has a different number of visas available, which means that your wait times may vary significantly depending on what preference category you fall under.

The most important parts of the bulletin include:

  • Section A: Final Action Dates
  • Section B: Dates for Filing

Here’s a closer look at each.

Section A: Final Action Dates

Final action dates are listed in a chart that shows which priority dates are coming up next. These people are at the “front of the line.” That means these green card applications are ready for approval when the bulletin is released.

Related: What is a marriage green card?

Section B: Dates for Filing

Dates for filing are also presented in a chart. It shows the dates that certain green card applicants living outside the U.S. should submit their applications with the National Visa Center, or NVC. These dates don’t mean that a green card is ready; they mean that they’re getting close and it’s time to file an application.

Related: What happens if you divorce before getting a green card?

Do You Need to Talk to a Wisconsin Immigration Attorney About Applying for a Green Card?

If you need to speak with a Wisconsin immigration attorney about applying for a green card for yourself or someone else, we may be able to help. Call our office at 414-383-6700 to schedule your immigration consultation and get the legal advice you need now.

By Attorney Carlos Gamino