• This visa war continues: Visa Bulletin for August

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    FOR the sons and daughters of Filipino-American war veterans with approved immigrant visa petitions, the priority dates for August should be of interest, particularly the chart on “FILING” instead of the “FINAL” dates because the dates signify the continuing battle for positions in the visa waiting line.

    For the rest of immigrant-visa applicants in the various family-sponsored and employment-based categories, the Visa Bulletin for August from 10 years ago and that of 2015 are compared to the cutoff dates for August this year, so that those waiting for their visa interviews could plan the next steps.

    Good news first: Over a 10-year period, the F1, F2A and F2B family-based categories moved 13.5 years while the F3 and F4—traditionally the slowest moving, edged almost 10 years over the same period.

    The not-so good news (but not too bad, either) is that over a year, the three last categories (F2B, F2, F4) are the only ones that moved over a year. The F1 moved only five months forward while the F2A moved to within a year.

    Family Categories. What does the “F” in these preference symbols mean? Each category is explained below, together with the total number of visa allocations not just for the Philippines but worldwide.

    The annual minimum family-sponsored preference limit is 226,000. The annual allocation for employment-based preference immigrants, on the other hand, is at least 140,000. Then there is a per-country limit of 26,520.

    First Family Preference (F1) – Unmarried Sons and Daughters of US Citizens: 23,400 plus any numbers not required for fourth preference. There is a trickle-up effect: in case the visa allocation for the F4 (Brothers and sisters of US citizens) is not used, the remaining numbers move up to F1. This move “up and down” the category continues and is explained below.

    Second (F2): Spouses and Children, and Unmarried Sons and Daughters of Permanent Residents: 114,200, plus the number (if any) by which the worldwide family preference level exceeds 226,000, plus any unused first preference (F1) numbers.

    The Second Family preference is further subdivided into F2A and the F2B.

    F2A – Spouses and Children of Permanent Residents: 77 percent (87,934) of the overall second preference limitation. Of this number 75 percent (65,950) are exempt from the per-country limit. Because the Second Family Preference category has the most allocation and the per-country limit exemption, the F2A category moves faster than any of the other family-sponsored visas.

    F2B – Unmarried Sons and Daughters (21 years old or older) of Permanent Residents: 23 percent of the overall second preference limitation.

    Third – (F3) Married Sons and Daughters of US Citizens: 23,400, plus any numbers not required by first and second preferences. Any numbers not used in this category move up to the F1 and F2 classes.

    Fourth – (F4) Brothers and Sisters of Adult US Citizens: 65,000, plus any numbers not required by first three preferences.

    Since it is only August, there could still be forward movement, especially in or after October, when a new set of yearly allocation (226,000) kicks in. The US fiscal year starts October and ends September of each year.

    On the average, all the family-based categories moved 12 months from last year. For visa beneficiaries whose priority date is within a year or two, we recommend that you check the other Visa Bulletin chart—the one that indicates the “FILING DATE.”

    If your priority date is the same as or earlier than the one shown in your specific category, then obtaining the documents necessary to establish your continuing eligibility should be your first step. It is best to check your birth certificate, wedding certificate, Certificate of No Marriage (CENOMAR), adoption decrees, et al. for any discrepancies in spelling, gender, date and places of birth.

    The visa war continues for sons and daughters of veterans
    For the sons and daughters of a petitioner whose citizenship was obtained through military service in the US Armed Forces during World War II, applying for advance parole to be with the petitioner even before the priority date becomes current should be pursued. See our posting on the Advance Parole memorandum from the US Citizenship and Immigration Services for complete details. You may log on to this site (for digital viewers, you may copy and paste the link to yourmovement20160718 browser search field): <https://www.visacenter.org/index.php/page/599/family-members-of-filam-vets-may-now-apply-rules-just-published>.

    The cutoff dates for Aug. 2006, last year, and for the current year are shown above so that our readers and followers of Visa Bulletin would have an idea of how fast—or slow—the priority dates moved over the periods indicated.

    How about the other chart – ‘Dates for Filing Family-Sponsored Visa Applications?’
    The State Department now publishes two charts to enable visa beneficiaries (individuals who were petitioned by qualified relatives or employers in the US) to monitor when they may start submitting documents while waiting for their priority dates to move up.

    Until the State Department started publishing two charts in Oct. 2015, there was only one set of cutoff dates for those waiting for their immigrant visas. The Chart for Filing Family-Sponsored Visa Applications below shows the cutoff dates for all family-sponsored categories worldwide:
    family20160718Our readers might notice that applicants from Mexico face longer wait periods because there are more immigrant visa applicant from that country compared to the others, including the Philippines.

    Going back to the Advance Parole program under the Obama administration, the sons and daughters of FilAm veterans whose priority dates are not yet current could jump over the other visa applicants waiting in line in the F1 or F3 categories.

    The Advance Parole instructions allow the children of FilAm veterans to apply for travel documents to join the petitioner in the US instead of waiting for their visas in the Philippines. The travel documents are not visas but rather authorization to travel to the US and be reunited with the FilAm veteran petitioner.

    In cases where the FilAm US citizen is deceased, the sons- or daughter-visa beneficiaries are no longer eligible to apply for Advance Parole. They may instead request to have the petition reinstated or revalidated for humanitarian considerations.

    The FilAm veteran may have died, but the visa application could still be resurrected.

    And so the visa battle continues, this time with the sons and daughters in the frontlines.

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