The Visa Bulletin: What’s New for February 2020


The latest green card waiting lists as of February 2020, with predictions from a State Department official

Jan 24, 2020


Official stamps an immigration visa application form.

The U.S. Department of State released its Visa Bulletin for February 2020. 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 February 2020 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:

  • While F-2A dates remain current, Oppenheim plans to impose final action dates within the next few months across all categories for this visa.

In employment-based categories:

  • Oppenheim notes that EB-3 Worldwide and EB-3 Other Workers Worldwide will become subject to a final action date in March 2020.
  • The final action date for EB-3 Philippines advances 2.5 months, exceeding earlier advancement projected. The reason for this is to allow for additional number usage before EB-3 Worldwide becomes subject to a final action date in March 2020.
  • Given current demand trends, Oppenehim also expects to impose a final action date for EB-4 India as early as July 2020.
  • Oppenehim says the final action date for EB-1 Worldwide (including El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras, Mexico Philippines and Vietnam) may possibly, although this unconfirmed, become current in the summer of 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 February, 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 22-Aug-13 15-Jul-13 -1 month, 1 week
    China 22-Aug-13 15-Jul-13 -1 month, 1 week
    India 22-Aug-13 15-Jul-13 -1 month, 1 week
    Mexico 22-Aug-97 8-Aug-97 -2 weeks
    Philippines 1-Apr-09 15-Jan-09 -2 months, 2 weeks, 3 days

    This category sees some movement for most countries, but again Mexico experiences a stalemate:

    • All countries, except Mexico, see progress, by at least 2 months
    • The Philippines advances by 2 months and 2 weeks, after slowing in December

    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 22-Aug-14 8-Aug-14 -2 weeks
    China 22-Aug-14 8-Aug-14 -2 weeks
    India 22-Aug-14 8-Aug-14 -2 weeks
    Mexico 15-Sep-98 22-Aug-98 -3 weeks, 1 day
    Philippines 1-May-09 1-Feb-09 -3 months

    In February, there is movement for all countries but not large advances, mostly modest ones,

      • Three-month advance for the Philippines, continuing on an advancing trend dating from October
      • Two week advance for all other categories, except Mexico which sees a three week advance

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

    Country New Cut-off Date Old Cut-off Date Change in Wait Time
    General Category 22-Nov-07 15-Nov-07 -1 week
    China 22-Nov-07 15-Nov-07 -1 week
    India 22-Nov-07 15-Nov-07 -1 week
    Mexico 22-Mar-96 1-Mar-96 -3 weeks
    Philippines 1-May-99 1-Jan-99 -4 months

    All countries continue to slow at around one-week but no country stalls:

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

    F-4: siblings of U.S. citizens

    Country New Cut-off Date Old Cut-off Date Change in Wait Time
    General Category 1-Jul-06 1-Feb-07 +7 months
    China 1-Jul-06 1-Feb-07 +7 months
    India 22-Nov-04 8-Nov-04 -2 weeks
    Mexico 15-Jan-98 8-Jan-98 -1 week
    Philippines 1-Jul-99 1-Mar-99 -4 months

    The General Category and China move backwards, most other countries see moderate advances:

  • The Philippines sees a four-month progression
  • Mexico experiences a one-week advance
  • Two-week advance for India.
  • General Category and China retrogress by seven months

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 1-Dec-18 1-Oct-18 -2 months
China 22-May-17 22-May-17 No Change
Central America 1-Dec-18 1-Oct-18 -2 months
India 01Jan15 01Jan15 No Change
Mexico 1-Dec-18 1-Oct-18 -2 months
Philippines 1-Dec-18 1-Oct-18 -2 months
Vietnam 1-Dec-18 1-Oct-18 -2 months

Movement picks up across this category but India and China see no change:

  • Two-month advances for the General Category, Central America, Vietnam and the Philippines

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 15-Jul-15 1-Jul-15 -2 weeks
Central America No Wait No Wait No Change
India 19-May-09 18-May-09 -1 day
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, except for India and China:

  • No visa wait time for the General Category, Central America, Mexico, Vietnam and the Philippines
  • Two-week advance for China
  • One-day advance 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-Jan-16 1-Dec-15 -1 month
Central America No Wait No Wait No Change
India 8-Jan-09 1-Jan-09 -1 week
Mexico No Wait No Wait No Change
Philippines 1-Jun-18 15-Mar-18 -2 months, 2 weeks, 3 days
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 sight forward movement:

  • Visas remain current for General Category, Mexico, Central America, and Vietnam
  • One-week advance for India
  • China sees one-month advance
  • The Philippines experiences an over two-month advance

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. There is no advance for Central America, and only a slight advance for Mexico.

In the EB-5 category, 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 1Sep17 8Aug17 -3 weeks, 1 day
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 1-Dec-14 22-Nov-14 -1 week, 2 days
Central America No Wait No Wait No Change
India 1-Sep-18 1-May-18 -4 months
Mexico No Wait No Wait No Change
Philippines No Wait No Wait No Change
Vietnam 15-Dec-16 8-Dec-16 -1 week

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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