The Visa Bulletin: What’s New For December 2019?


The latest green card waiting lists as of December 2019, with predictions from a State Department official

Dec 2, 2019


The U.S. Department of State released its Visa Bulletin for December 2019. That’s a big deal if you’re waiting for your priority date to be current so that your green card application can move forward.

If you don’t know what a “visa bulletin” or a “priority date” is, we’ve got you covered. Start by checking out the Boundless guide on How to Read the Visa Bulletin.

If you’re already familiar with those terms, skip ahead to our summary of key developments or to the filing category that’s most relevant to you:

Family-based categories

Employment-based categories


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The Bottom Line

The December 2019 Visa Bulletin brings some new movement in wait times for both the family- (“F”) and employment-based (“EB”) green card categories.

The following key developments combine analysis by Boundless and insight from the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA), which checks in every month with Charles “Charlie” Oppenheim, Chief of the State Department’s Visa Control and Reporting Division, for his assessment of “current trends and future projections.” The AILA insights below were excerpted from AILA Doc. No. 14071401.

In family-based categories:

  • Oppenheim notes that F-2A dates remain current, and that they will likely remain so for the foreseeable future.
  • He also notes that Mexico has stalled across almost all family-based visa categories due to increased demand and that limited movement should be expected going forward.
  • There has been increased demand for F-4 visas since October 2019, but it is too early for Oppenheim to be sure if this is a new trend or if the demand will start to slow.

In employment-based categories:

  • Oppenheim says that although EB-2 Worldwide (including El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras, Mexico, the Philippines and Vietnam) and EB-3 Worldwide (including El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras, Mexico, the Philippines and Vietnam) remain current, these could retrogress as early as January 2020 due to increased demand.

EB-3 Worldwide (including El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras, Mexico, and Vietnam) will remain current in December, but Oppenheim predicts a real possibility that this category could have a final action date imposed as early as January 2020.


Wonky technical note: This post focuses on the “Final Action Dates” in the Visa Bulletin because these dates are most relevant for figuring out when applicants will ultimately receive their green cards.

Every month, however, USCIS announces whether applicants already living in the United States should file their “adjustment of status” applications based on the “Final Action Dates” or the “Dates for Filing.”

For December, all family-based visa applicants — except those in the F-2A category — must use the “Dates for Filing” (available on the State Department’s website), whereas F-2A and employment-based visa applicants must use the “Final Action Dates.” Applicants filing from outside the United States must follow the Final Action Dates.

Read on for details…


Family-Based Green Card Backlogs

F-1: unmarried children (age 21 and older) of U.S. citizens

Country New Cut-off Date Old Cut-off Date Change in Wait Time
General Category 15-May-13 1-Mar-13 -2 months, 2 weeks
China 15-May-13 1-Mar-13 -2 months, 2 weeks
India 15-May-13 1-Mar-13 -2 months, 2 weeks
Mexico 8-Aug-97 8-Aug-97 No change
Philippines 1-Nov-08 15-Sep-08 -1 month, 2 weeks, 3 days

Whilst this category sees some movement for most countries, Mexico experiences a stalemate.

  • All countries, except Mexico, see progress, with the General Category, India, and China seeing more than two-month advances.
  • The Philippines slows to a one-month advance after surging forward last month.

F-2A: spouses and unmarried children (under age 21) of U.S. green card holders

Country New Cut-off Date Old Cut-off Date Change in Wait Time
General Category No wait No wait No change
China No wait No wait No change
India No wait No wait No change
Mexico No wait No wait No change
Philippines No wait No wait No change
  • This category has seen no change, with all countries remaining current.

F-2B: unmarried children (age 21 or older) of U.S. green card holders

Country New Cut-off Date Old Cut-off Date Change in Wait Time
General Category 8-Aug-14 8-Jul-14 – 1 month
China 8-Aug-14 8-Jul-14 – 1 month
India 8-Aug-14 8-Jul-14 – 1 month
Mexico 22-Aug-98 22-Aug-98 No change
Philippines 1-Dec-08 1-Oct-08 -2 months

In December, movement continues to slow for most countries, except for Mexico which sees no advance:

  • One-month advances for the General Category, China, and India.
  • Two-month advance for the Philippines, continuing on an advancing trend from November.

F-3: married children of U.S. citizens

Country New Cut-off Date Old Cut-off Date Change in Wait Time
General Category 8-Nov-07 15-Oct-07 -3 weeks, 4 days
China 8-Nov-07 15-Oct-07 -3 weeks, 4 days
India 8-Nov-07 15-Oct-07 -3 weeks, 4 days
Mexico 22-Feb-96 22-Feb-96 No change
Philippines 1-Sep-98 1-Jun-98 -3 months

All countries in this category modestly advance except the Philippines which surges forward, but once again Mexico sees no advance:

  • Three-week advances for General Category, India, and China.
  • Three-month advance for the Philippines.

F-4: siblings of U.S. citizens

Country New Cut-off Date Old Cut-off Date Change in Wait Time
General Category 1-Feb-07 1-Jan-07 -1 month
China 1-Feb-07 1-Jan-07 -1 month
India 1-Nov-04 15-Oct-04 -2 weeks, 3 days
Mexico 15-Dec-97 15-Dec-97 No change
Philippines 15-Dec-98 1-Sep-98 -3 months, 2 weeks

All countries see moderate forward movement, except Mexico which sees no change:

  • Over one-month advance for the General Category and China.
  • The Philippines sees a three-month and two-week progression.
  • Two-week advance for India.

EB-1: extraordinary people, outstanding researchers and professors, and multinational executives and managers

Country New Cut-off Date Old Cut-off Date Change in Wait Time
General Category 15-Jul-18 1-Jun-18 -1 month, 2 weeks
China 15-May-17 1-Feb-17 -3 months, 2 weeks
Central America 15-Jul-18 1-Jun-18 -1 month, 2 weeks
India 01Jan15 01Jan15 No change
Mexico 15-Jul-18 1-Jun-18 -1 month, 2 weeks
Philippines 15-Jul-18 1-Jun-18 -1 month, 2 weeks
Vietnam 15-Jul-18 1-Jun-18 -1 month, 2 weeks
Country New Cut-off Date Old Cut-off Date Change in Wait Time
  • Movement slows slightly across this category, with India seeing no change and China seeing a three-month advance:
  • Over one-month advances for the General Category, Central America, Vietnam and the Philippines.
  • Three-month advance for China.

EB-2: exceptional people and advanced degree holders

Country New Cut-off Date Old Cut-off Date Change in Wait Time
General Category No Wait No Wait No change
China 22-Jun-15 15-Mar-15 -3 months, 1 week
Central America No Wait No Wait No change
India 15-May-09 13-May-09 -2 days
Mexico No Wait No Wait No change
Philippines No Wait No Wait No change
Vietnam No Wait No Wait No change

No change for most of the category, expect for India and China:

  • No visa wait time for the General Category, Central America, Mexico, Vietnam and the Philippines. Celebrate!
  • Three-month and one-week forward movement for China
  • Two-day change for India.

EB-3: bachelor’s degree holders, skilled workers, and unskilled workers

Country New Cut-off Date Old Cut-off Date Change in Wait Time
General Category No Wait No Wait No change
China 1-Nov-15 1-Nov-15 No change
Central America No Wait No Wait No change
India 1-Jan-09 1-Jan-09 No change
Mexico No Wait No Wait No change
Philippines 1-Mar-18 1-Feb-18 -1 month
Vietnam No Wait No Wait No change

This month continues to see no visa wait times for the General Category, Mexico, Central America, and Vietnam. Other countries see no forward movement, except the Philippines:

  • Visas remain current for General Category, Mexico, Central America, and Vietnam.
  • No change in wait times for India and China.
  • One-month advance for the Philippines.

Finally, just to be complete about all of this: In the EB-4 “special immigrants” category, visa numbers are newly available this month, with no wait times for the General Category, China, India, the Philippines, and Vietnam.

In the EB-5 no real changes are seen, except for China, India, and Vietnam that experience moderate advances.

Category Country New Cut-off Date Old Cut-off Date Change in Wait Time
EB-4: Special Immigrants General Category No Wait No Wait No change
China No Wait No Wait No change
Central America 01Jul16 01Jul16 No change
India No Wait No Wait No change
Mexico 22Jul17 22Jul17 No change
Philippines No Wait No Wait No change
Vietnam No Wait No Wait No change
Category Country New Cut-off Date Old Cut-off Date Change in Wait Time
EB-5: Investors General Category No Wait No Wait No change
China 15-Nov-14 1-Nov-14 -2 weeks
Central America No Wait No Wait No change
India 1-Jan-18 8-Dec-17 -3 weeks, 1 day
Mexico No Wait No Wait No change
Philippines No Wait No Wait No change
Vietnam 1-Dec-16 15-Nov-16 -2 weeks, 2 days

Why This Matters

If you’re in line for a green card, it’s important to keep track of actual changes (and likely future developments) in the Visa Bulletin. It’s always a good idea to prepare all the documents needed for your green card application ahead of time, so you can be ready to file as quickly as possible once the Visa Bulletin shows that a green card is available to you. By failing to file in a month when a green card is available, you risk facing a surprise backward movement (“retrogression”) in the next Visa Bulletin, which would close your window of opportunity for filing a green card application.

Stay tuned for next month’s update! As always, we’ll highlight all the important changes for you.


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