Information regarding when particular visa types become available is published monthly by the State Department in its Visa Bulletin. In America, visas are separated into preference categories - family preferences and employment preferences.
The Visa Bullein outlines the family-sponsored preferences. Immediate family members (spouses and children under 21) of U.S. citizens are not subject to the cap and an immediate visa is available for these people. Unmarried sons and daughters of U.S. citizens have the first priority, followed by spouses and children of permanent residents. The third category is for married sons and daugthers of U.S. citizens. Finally, brothers and sisters of adult U.S. citizens represent the fourth family-based category.
On the employment side, the State Department distinguishes between non-citizens from China, India, Mexico and the Phillipines and non-citizens from the rest of the world in each employment category. After that distinguishing factor, highly skilled priority workers make up the first category. Visas for this category are current at the present time. Persons with advanced degrees make up the second employment category, followed by skilled workers and certain special immigrants. There is a fifth employment category for non-citizens involved in companies that hire a certain number of new, American workers.
If you need help in understanding the visa bulletin or the preference system, please feel free to contact us by using the forms on this page or by calling us at (314) 961-8200.