• Visa Bulletin June 2017: How many millions are waiting?

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    CRISPIN R. ARANDA

    OVER a one-year period (November 2015 to 2016), while 225,701 immigrant applicants in the family-sponsored categories were either issued their visas overseas or obtained permanent resident status in the United States, the overall total still hovered over the 4 million mark.

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    In the Philippines, the total number of Filipinos waiting for the issuance of their visas dropped from 417,511 to 387,323. Are Filipinos no longer interested to migrate to the US of A?

    Visa allocations are set each year: 226,000 minimum for family-sponsored categories and at least 140,000 for the employment-based visas. The State Department theoretically should notify applicants in the visa waiting list whose priority dates are about to be current to start their applications.
    The 226,000 limit to family-sponsored preferences does not apply to the immediate relatives of US citizens: spouse, minor child and parent. Upon approval of a petition by a US citizen and completing documentation at the National Visa Center stage, he or she could be scheduled for an interview at the US Embassy unlike relatives in the preference categories who need to wait for their priority date to be current.

    The priority dates are reflected as “cut-off dates” published each month by the State Department through the Visa Bulletin.

    Immigrant visa applicants from the top 12 countries represent 78 percent of the total. This list from the State Department includes all countries with at least 50,000 persons on the waiting list. For fiscal year 2017, the per-country limit was set at 25,620.

    The list reflects persons registered under each respective visa categories and includes not only principal applicants or petition beneficiaries, but their spouses and children entitled to derivative status as well.

    Lower overall, higher sibling petitions
    The overall total of immigrant visa applicants worldwide declined over the three-year period (November 2014 to 2016). Except for the F4 category (adult brothers and sisters of US citizens, all family-based categories also reflect a decline.

    Immigrant visa applicants from the Philippines (for both the family and employment-based) posted a 3-year decline from November 2014 (428,768) to November 2015 (417,511), then reduced to 387,323 in November 2016.

    Automatic change in categories
    While visas remain at the National Visa Center for archiving until the priority dates for individual applicants become current, changes in the immigration status of the petitioner (from green card holder to being a U.S. citizen); and changes in the age, marital status of the beneficiary result in automatic change in category of the visa applicant/beneficiary.

    A person with an F2A petition (minor child of a green card holder) will change category to F2B (son, daughter of a green card holder) upon reaching 21 years of age. The same individual’s category would change again if he or she gets married. The specific category would, in turn, be dependent on the status of the petitioner and the date the beneficiary got married.

    If the petitioner becomes a US citizen before the beneficiary got married, the F2B petition converts to F3 (married son or daughter of a US citizen). However, if the marriage occurs before the petitioner is issued his or her certificate of naturalization then the F2B category is automatically revoked because there is no category for the married son or daughter of a green card holder.

    Just based on absolute numbers reflected in the table, F2A beneficiaries who turned 21 resulted in just a slight increase of F2B beneficiaries the next year – from 59,596 to 59,679. It is interesting to note that there was a decrease in the F2B numbers in 2016. It could be that there were no F2A beneficiaries who turned 21 over a year period while those who were waiting (and did not aged-out nor got married) were issued their immigrant visas.

    For readers worldwide (other than those in the Philippines) the column “All chargeability areas except those listed” reflect the June 2017 priority dates. However, the May 2017 column refers only to visa applicants from the Philippines.

    Rule of thumb: do not simply twiddle them while waiting for your priority date to be current. Instead check the documents you have to submit or have submitted for discrepancies. Then take steps to correct them before the scheduled visa interview.

    Otherwise, the years of waiting might just go to waste.

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