The Department of State issues a visa bulletin each month to inform the public of the priority dates which will be effective for various immigrant visa (ie, US Green Card) preference categories.(1) Each foreign national sponsored for an immigrant visa is assigned a priority date. The priority date is the date on which the foreign national's immigrant visa case was initiated, based on the filing of a Programme Electronic Review Management Labour Application or immigrant visa petition on behalf of the foreign national. The priority dates listed in the visa bulletin informs the foreign national of his or her place in line for eligibility to receive an immigrant visa. Once the visa bulletin lists the foreign national's priority date as effective, he or she can move forward with the last step of the immigrant visa application process, which involves either the filing of an Immigrant Visa Electronic Application (Form DS 260) or an Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status (Form I-485). It is often difficult to predict which priority dates will become effective or move up, since the visa bulletin is published only on a monthly basis by the Department of State. However, the Department of State occasionally provides some predictions with respect to the movement of priority dates on future visa bulletins. Some recent priority date predictions for the employment-based immigrant visa preference categories are as follows:

  • EB-2 Worldwide may become effective again in the October 2016 Visa Bulletin.
  • EB-3 Worldwide is not expected to become effective in the near future.
  • The final action date for EB-2 China and EB-3 China will remain the same for the remainder of the fiscal year (October 1 2015 through September 30 2016).
  • EB-2 China is expected to move to a date in late 2011 or early 2012 in the October 2016 Visa Bulletin.
  • EB-3 China's final action date is expected to reach late 2012 or early 2013.
  • EB-2 India will likely move to a date in early 2007 in the October 2016 Visa Bulletin.
  • EB-3 India is predicted to remain at a 2005 date in the October 2016 Visa Bulletin.
  • EB-5 China is unpredictable at the moment, but better information may be available by late September or mid-October.
  • EB-1 India and EB-1 China will likely become effective again in the October 2016 Visa Bulletin.

The priority dates listed on the visa bulletins issued each month are determined by the number of immigrant visas issued by the Department of State in the proceeding month and/or past months and the number of Form I-485 applications approved by the US Citizenship and Immigration Services in the preceeding month and/or past months. In addition, the Department of State may use other factors to move priority dates up or down on the visa bulletin.