inside immigration information about marriage green cards and work visas in America
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Many foreign nationals have either an I-130 petition filed for them by a family member, or an I-140 petition filed for them by an American employer, to put them on the waiting list for a green card (permanent residence).
The waiting list report that is issued by the U.S. Department of State every month is called the “Visa Bulletin.”
The Visa Bulletin tells us when immigrant visas (the type of visa a person needs in order to get a green card) are available. Since there are not an unlimited number of immigrant visas for everyone, you (or your immigration attorney) must read the Visa Bulletin to see when to apply for your immigrant visa to complete the green card processing.
Some people have been waiting years for immigrant visas through their family members or employers. Diversity lottery winners also cannot get their green cards until an immigrant visa is available, even though they have won the lottery.
Definition of “Current”
You can find out if an immigrant visa is available for you by checking the Visa Bulletin. There are 3 boxes on the Visa Bulletin. The first is for Family members, the second is for Employment and the third is for winners of the Diversity Lottery. When an immigrant visa is available, the Visa Bulletin will either indicate in the appropriate box “Current” or list a number (or date) higher than your Ranking Number (diversity visa lottery winners) or Priority Date (I-130 or I-140 petitions).
Definition of “Priority Date” for Family or Employees
For Family and Employment categories, you can find your Priority Date on either your approved I-130 Petition or your approved I-140 Petition. Find the correct box on the Visa Bulletin to and look to see whether your Priority Date is either current or is a date later than the one listed in the Visa Bulletin box. There is a detailed description on the Visa Bulletin that also describes how to interpret the information in the boxes.
Definition of ‘Ranking Number” for Diversity Lottery Winners
On the winning notification letter you were sent by the Kentucky Consular Center, you will find a Case Number that looks something like this: 2010/EU/00002345.
The first 4 numbers (2010) indicate the fiscal year of the lottery that you won. The second set of letters (EU) indicate the geographic region to which you were assigned. (In this case, EU is an abbreviation for EUROPE.)
The last 8 numbers (00002345) indicate your Ranking Number as compared to everyone else who won the diversity lottery during your fiscal year. In this case, the winner was ranked 2,345 (the first 4 zeros don’t count).
Under Section B of the Visa Bulletin (called “Diversity Immigrant DV Category”) there is a box showing the immigrant visas that are available for each geographic region. The numbers change each month when the Visa Bulletin is updated. It is helpful in terms of planning to know that the Visa Bulletin is released 2 weeks early, usually no later than the 15th of the previous month.
For diversity lottery winners, under the chart in Section B of the Visa Bulletin (“Diversity Immigrant DV Category”) there is another chart called “Advance Notification” letting the public know what will happen the following month. Therefore, by September 15th diversity lottery winners will know the Diversity Immigrant DV Category numbers for both October and November.
Once your priority number or ranking number indicates that you may proceed with obtaining your immigrant visa, if you are eligible for a green card (no crimes, deportations, etc.) you may continue the processing of your green card either through consular processing (at a U.S. Consulate outside the USA) or through adjustment of status (at a USCIS office inside the USA).