The Visa Bulletin is a monthly U.S State Department publication reporting visa availability month-by-month. While some categories enjoy continued visa availability month over month, other categories depend on visa availability because of demand exceeding supply of immigrant numbers, also called “oversubscription.” Immigration to the U.S. is controlled by numerical limitations, with the exception of immediate relatives of U.S. citizens.
Some helpful vocabulary is listed below. Reference the diagram from the January 2021 Visa Bulletin, Final Action Dates Chart for Employment-Based Preferences for some of the listed terms:
“Current” or “C” – when a category is denoted “Current” or “C” on the Visa Bulletin, it means that there is visa availability in the reporting month for that category.
“Final Action Date” – the “final action date” (FAD) reported on the Visa Bulletin indicates that a case in that category whose priority date is earlier than the final action date is authorized for visa issuance. Practically speaking, it means that a case whose priority date is earlier than the published date can be issued an EB-5 visa. “Immediate visa availability” is another term used to denote that the priority date is current or is earlier than the final action date. The “final action date” was previously called the “cut off date,” and is still so referred today.
“Dates for Filing Visa Applications” – the “dates for filing” (DFF), also referenced by some as “Chart B” on the Visa Bulletin indicate when the National Visa Center should notify immigrant visa applicants to assemble and submit required documentation.
If USCIS determines there are more immigrant visas available for a fiscal year than there are known applicants for such visas, it will allow using the Dates for Filing chart. Otherwise, Final Action Dates chart determine when an EB-5 investor may file adjustment of status applications.
“Priority Date” – the priority date is the filing date on the immigrant visa petition – in our context, the Form I-526. It is reflected in the I-526 receipt as well as approval notices.
“Unavailable” or “U” – when an annual limit is reached, or when there is no legislative action extending the EB-5 regional center category, the Visa Bulletin will show that visa issuance is unauthorized. The Visa Bulletin may indicate what the final action dates would be if he EB-5 regional center program is reauthorized that month. For example, the January 2021 Visa Bulletin indicates that if reauthorized, the dates would be the same as shown for the traditional EB-5 program.