The Visa Bulletin: What’s New for March 2020?


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

Mar 4, 2020


Official stamps an immigration visa application form.

The U.S. Department of State released its Visa Bulletin for March 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 March 2020 Visa Bulletin brings some new movement in wait times for both the family-based (“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 some advances in the family category for Mexico, due primarily to the combined demand at USCIS and the U.S. Consulate in Ciudad Juarez “loosening up a bit”
  • Low Philippine demand for family visa categories means that significant advances are seen across the board
  • All F2A categories remain current, meaning there are no wait times! Although there was a temporary two-month surge in demand, it has now subsided. If this low demand trend continues, it is possible that a final action date may not need to be imposed

In employment-based categories:

  • Oppenheim believes that it is possible the EB-1 Worldwide (including El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras, Mexico, Philippines, and Vietnam) category may become current in summer 2020, due to sustained advances
  • Most of the EB-3 category will be retrogressing to the Jan 1, 2017 date, and Oppenheim sees no movement from this for the foreseeable future

Oppenheim anticipates USCIS might revert resources previously allocated to EB-3 processing to EB-2 and/or EB-1 processing, generating additional demand in those categories.


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 March, 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 8-Oct-13 22-Aug-13 -1 month, 2 weeks, 2 days
China 8-Oct-13 22-Aug-13 -1 month, 2 weeks, 2 days
India 8-Oct-13 22-Aug-13 -1 month, 2 weeks, 2 days
Mexico 15-Sep-97 22-Aug-97 -3 weeks, 1 day
Philippines 1-Sep-09 1-Apr-09 -5 months

This category sees movement for all countries:

– All countries see progress by at least one month
– Mexico advances the least, with an advance of just over three weeks
– The Philippines moves ahead the most, with a five-month advance

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 15-Sep-14 22-Aug-14 -3 weeks, 1 day
China 15-Sep-14 22-Aug-14 -3 weeks, 1 day
India 15-Sep-14 22-Aug-14 -3 weeks, 1 day
Mexico 15-Oct-98 15-Sep-98 -1 month
Philippines 1-Oct-09 1-May-09 -5 months

In March, there is movement for all countries but not large advances:

– Five-month advance for the Philippines, continuing on an advancing trend dating back to October 2019
– Three-week advance for all other categories, except Mexico, which sees a one-month advance

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

Country New Cut-off Date Old Cut-off Date Change in Wait Time
General Category 15-Dec-07 22-Nov-07 -3 weeks, 1 day
China 15-Dec-07 22-Nov-07 -3 weeks, 1 day
India 15-Dec-07 22-Nov-07 -3 weeks, 1 day
Mexico 8-Apr-96 22-Mar-96 -2 weeks, 3 days
Philippines 1-Oct-99 1-May-99 -5 months

All countries speed up after a previous slight slowdown and no country stalls:

– One-week advances for General Category, India, and China
– Five-month advance for the Philippines
– Mexico slows down, with only a two-week advance

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-Jul-06 No Change
China 1-Jul-06 1-Jul-06 No Change
India 8-Dec-04 22-Nov-04 -2 weeks, 2 days
Mexico 15-Feb-98 15-Jan-98 -1 month
Philippines 1-Dec-99 1-Jul-99 -5 months

The General Category and China see no more change after moving backwards in February, most other countries see moderate advances:

– The Philippines sees a five-month progression
– Mexico experiences a one-month advance
– Two-week advance for India
– General Category and China do not advance or regress

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-Mar-19 1-Dec-18 -3 months
China 1-Jun-17 22-May-17 -1 week, 3 days
Central America 1-Mar-19 1-Dec-18 -3 months
India 01Mar15 01Jan15 -2 months
Mexico 1-Mar-19 1-Dec-18 -3 months
Philippines 1-Mar-19 1-Dec-18 -3 months
Vietnam 1-Mar-19 1-Dec-18 -3 months

Movement continues across this category and India and China see change after previously being static in February:

– Three-month advances for the General Category, Central America, Vietnam and the Philippines
– Two-month advance for India
– One-week 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 15-Aug-15 15-Jul-15 -1 months
Central America No Wait No Wait No Change
India 22-May-09 19-May-09 -3 days
Mexico No Wait No Wait No Change
Philippines No Wait No Wait No Change
Vietnam No Wait No Wait No Change
Country New Cut-off Date Old Cut-off Date Change in Wait Time

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
– One-month advance for China
– Three-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 15-Aug-15 15-Jul-15 -1 months
Central America No Wait No Wait No Change
India 22-May-09 19-May-09 -3 days
Mexico No Wait No Wait No Change
Philippines No Wait No Wait No Change
Vietnam No Wait No Wait No Change

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

– Visas remain current for Mexico and Central America
– One-week advance for India
– China sees two-month advance
– The Philippines experiences a one-year retrogression
– General Category and Vietnam see an over three-year retrogression


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 a two-week advance for Central America, and a two-month advance for Mexico.

In the EB-5 no real changes are seen, except for China, India and Vietnam that experience 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 15Jul16 01Jul16 -2 weeks
India No Wait No Wait No Change
Mexico 15Nov17 1Sep17 -2 months, 2 weeks
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-May-15 1-Dec-14 -5 months, 2 weeks
Central America No Wait No Wait No Change
India 22-Oct-18 1-Sep-18 -1 month, 3 weeks
Mexico No Wait No Wait No Change
Philippines No Wait No Wait No Change
Vietnam 15-Jan-17 15-Dec-16 -1 month

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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