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What’s so hard about waiting in line?

One of the most frustrating things about the process of current immigration law is the backlog of approved family visa petitions that are awaiting a ripe priority date in order to actually receive a visa.

One of the most frustrating things about the process of current immigration law is the backlog of approved family visa petitions that are awaiting a ripe priority date in order to actually receive a visa. If you are fortunate enough to have a family member or employer with the ability to petition for you to live in the US, you may still experience a long wait to receive your green card. How long? Well, that all depends…

What is a priority date?

Certain categories of visas have a strict numerical limit on the numbers of visas available every year. People who have applied for an immigrant visa and fall in one of these restricted categories must wait their turn for a visa based on the date that they initially applied – their priority date.  In order to determine who is eligible to apply, each month, the State Department publishes a visa bulletin that shows which priority dates are current.

To find the current visa bulletin, follow this link:

To illustrate, here is the visa bulletin for family-based categories subject to numerical limitations for April, 2014:


All Chargeability Areas Except Those Listed

CHINA-mainland born


































The categories are as follows:

  1. F1 is for Sons and Daughters of US Citizens that are single and over 21.

  2. F2A is for Spouses and Children under 21 of Lawful Permanent Residents.

  3. F2B is for Children over 21 of Lawful Permanent Residents.

  4. F3 is for Married Sons and Daughters of US Citizens.

  5. F4 is for Brothers and Sisters of US Citizens.

China, India, Mexico and the Philippines are further restricted to a percentage of the numerical limit because of a high volume of immigrants from those countries.

In order to read the visa bulletin and know where you are, simply compare the Priority Date on your approved visa petition to the proper category on the chart. For example, if a US citizen father were to have filed a family visa petition for his married adult child on April 10, 2003, if the country at issue is not one of those listed as subject to a cap, that visa petition would be eligible for processing in order to obtain an immigrant visa, since the application date is on or before July 15, 2003. As you can see, several categories have current priority dates that are over 20 years outside of current processing times. For example, you had to have filed your visa petition on or before May 1, 1993 in order to be eligible to complete the immigration process.

  1. 20 Years to complete the process? That’s Terrible!

  2. Oh, it just looks like 20 years.

  3. Phew. You scared me for a minute there.

  4. Well, for F2B/Mexico, it’s actually closer to 106 years.

  5. ???????

  6. Well, the visa bulletin doesn’t tell the whole story. Charles Wheeler from CLINIC gives an excellent breakdown of the math here:

To really understand the wait time, you have to figure out how many people are in line ahead of you. As of November 2013, there are 195,354 people waiting for a visa for the F2B category from Mexico and there are only 1,841 visas available each year. When you divide the total number of people in line by the number of yearly visas available, you see that the wait is currently estimated to be 106.112 years.

  1. What can I do about this?

  2. Only the US Congress has the power to fix this. Call your congressman and tell them to support comprehensive immigration reform.

Contact the experienced attorneys at Antonini and Cohen Immigration Law Group to discuss your eligibility to receive a US visa

The attorneys at Antonini and Cohen are here to expertly help you receive your US visa in an appropriate amount of time. Our dedicated team of attorneys will focus on assisting you with your application or change of status from your current category to a new category. We will also help you obtain legal status and work authorization for your dependent family members in applicable situations.

Please call us today at 404.523.8141 or click here to fill out the contact form to schedule a consultation with one of our attorneys experienced in obtaining a US visa.

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