The Visa Bulletin: What’s New for September 2019?


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

Sep 9, 2019


The U.S. Department of State released its Visa Bulletin for September 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

Now let’s continue…

The Bottom Line

The September 2019 Visa Bulletin — the last for fiscal year 2018–2019 — 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:

  • Most family-based categories see their dates advance in this final month (September) of fiscal year 2018–2019, though Mexican applicants see little movement due to continuing high demand, according to Oppenheim.
  • F-2A dates remain current across all countries through the end of this fiscal year.
  • Both the F-1 and F-2B categories show slightly more robust movement than in August, whereas the F-3 and F-4 categories show the opposite.
  • Mexico stalls in the F-3 category this month after a 5-month advance in August. According to Oppenheim, demand for visas from Mexican relatives has been high, accounting for the continued lack of movement in most family-based categories for this country.
  • Filipino families, meanwhile, continue to show low demand, which, AILA notes, has “artificially” accelerated movement in the family-based categories for this country.

In employment-based categories:

  • AILA reports that, due to high popularity, no more EB-3 visas are being issued until the end of this fiscal year (Sept. 30). (Please note that this information was not reflected on the State Department’s website at the time of writing.) Oppenheim says EB-3 visas could become current again as early as October 2019, when the new fiscal year begins, but that it’s hard to be sure. He warns that further delays stretching into fiscal year 2019–2020 are also possible.
  • The entire EB-4 category is also unavailable for September, meaning no visas are being issued. At the time of writing, Oppenheim had not provided a prediction on the availability of EB-4 visas past Sept. 30.
  • EB-1 and EB-2 visa categories might also become unavailable before the end of this fiscal year if demand exceeds the number of available visas in these categories. (Visas for Indian EB-1 applicants are already unavailable until the end of September.) Oppenheim notes that this isn’t unusual, with limits for these visas almost always reached before the end of the fiscal year. Still, he says, this year it has happened much earlier than usual.

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 September, 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 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 1-Jan-13 1-Jul-12 –6 months
China 1-Jan-13 1-Jul-12 –6 months
India 1-Jan-13 1-Jul-12 –6 months
Mexico 1-Aug-96 1-Aug-96 No change
Philippines 22-Jun-08 22-Feb-08 –4 months

Mexico sees no progress, but all other countries move forward, with the Philippines slowing down compared with its movement in August:

  • Six-month advance for the general category, China, and India
  • No change for Mexico
  • Four-month advance for the Philippines

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 1-Jun-14 1-Jan-14 –5 months
China 1-Jun-14 1-Jan-14 –5 months
India 1-Jun-14 1-Jan-14 –5 months
Mexico 1-Jul-98 1-Jun-98 –1 month
Philippines 1-Aug-08 1-Apr-08 –4 months

All countries in this category continue to move forward. Mexico’s progress, however, remains slow:

  • Five-month advance for the general category, China, and India
  • One-month advance for Mexico
  • Four-month advance for the Philippines

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

Country New Cut-off Date Old Cut-off Date Change in Wait Time
General Category 1-Sep-07 22-Jun-07 –2 months, 1 week, 3 days
China 1-Sep-07 22-Jun-07 –2 months, 1 week, 3 days
India 1-Sep-07 22-Jun-07 –2 months, 1 week, 3 days
Mexico 1-Dec-95 1-Dec-95 No change
Philippines 1-Feb-98 1-Oct-97 –4 months

All countries in this category advance, except for Mexico which shows no change from August:

  • Two-month, 1-week, 3-day advance for the general category, China, and India
  • No change for Mexico
  • Four-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-Nov-06 1-Oct-06 –1 month
China 1-Nov-06 1-Oct-06 –1 month
India 22-Sep-04 15-Sep-04 –1 week
Mexico 1-Jan-97 1-Jan-97 No change
Philippines 1-Jul-98 1-May-98 –2 months

Slow movement for all countries except Mexico, which continues to see no change after retrogressing significantly in July:

  • One-month , advance for the general category and ChinaOne-week advance for India No change for Mexico
  • Two-month advance for the Philippines

Employment-Based Green Card Backlogs

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-Oct-17 1-Jul-16 –1 year, 3 months
China 1-Jan-14 1-Jul-16 +2 years, 6 months
Central America 1-Oct-17 01-Jul-16 –1 year, 3 months
India Unavailable 1-Jan-15 No visas issued through Sept. 30
Mexico 1-Oct-17 1-Jul-16 –1 year, 3 months
Philippines 1-Oct-17 1-Jul-16 –1 year, 3 months
Vietnam 1-Oct-17 1-Jul-16 –1 year, 3 months

Forward movement for all categories except India, which will not be issued any visas until the end of September, while China continues to see significant backward movement:

  • One year, 3-month advance for the general category, Central America, Mexico, the Philippines, and Vietnam
  • Two-year, 6-month backward movement for China
  • No visas available for India

EB-2: exceptional people and advanced degree holders

Country New Cut-off Date Old Cut-off Date Change in Wait Time
General Category 1-Jan-18 1-Jan-17 –1 year
China 1-Jan-17 1-Jan-17 No change
Central America 1-Jan-18 1-Jan-17 –1 year
India 8-May-09 2-May-09 –6 days
Mexico 1-Jan-18 1-Jan-17 –1 year
Philippines 1-Jan-18 1-Jan-17 –1 year
Vietnam 1-Jan-18 1-Jan-17 –1 year

Significant advance for some in this category, but India remains slow, and China sees no change:

  • One-year advance for the general category, Central America, Mexico, the Philippines, and Vietnam.
  • No change for China
  • Six-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
China Unavailable 1-Jul-16 No visas issued through Sept. 30
Central America Unavailable 1-Jul-16 No visas issued through Sept. 30
India Unavailable 1-Jan-06 No visas issued through Sept. 30
Mexico Unavailable 1-Jul-16 No visas issued through Sept. 30
Philippines Unavailable 1-Jul-16 No visas issued through Sept. 30
Vietnam Unavailable 1-Jul-16 No visas issued through Sept. 30

No visas are available for any country in this category until the end of September, as Oppenheim reported to AILA. Please note that this update was not reflected on the State Department’s website at the time of writing.


Finally, just to be complete about all of this: For countries in the EB-4 “special immigrants” category, visas have become unavailable until the end of the fiscal year, meaning no EB-4 visas are being issued. In the EB-5 investor category, India sees significant forward movement, while Vietnam and China edge forward.

Category Country New Cut-off Date Old Cut-off Date Change in Wait Time
EB-4: Special Immigrants General Category Unavailable No wait No visas issued through Sept. 30
China Unavailable No wait No visas issued through Sept. 30
Central America Unavailable 1-Jul-16 No visas issued through Sept. 30
India Unavailable No wait No visas issued through Sept. 30
Mexico Unavailable 1-Jul-16 No visas issued through Sept. 30
Philippines Unavailable No wait No visas issued through Sept. 30
Vietnam Unavailable No wait No visas issued through Sept. 30
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 22-Oct-14 15-Oct-14 –1 week
Central America No wait No wait No change
India 1-Sep-17 15-Oct-14 –2 years, 10.5 months, 3 days
Mexico No wait No wait No change
Philippines No wait No wait No change
Vietnam 22-Oct-14 15-Oct-14 –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. In the meantime, enjoy watching this video of a family celebrating the start of the school year 1870s style, with a “Hamilton”-themed musical mashup.


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