Immigrant Visa Waiting Lists

Annual Report of Immigrant Visa Applicants in the Family-sponsored and
Employment-based preferences Registered at the National Visa Center
as of November 1, 2018

Most prospective immigrant visa applicants qualify for status under the law on the basis of
family relationships or employer sponsorship. Entitlement to visa processing in these classes is
established ordinarily through approval by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS)
of a petition filed on the applicant's behalf. The petitions of applicants who will be processed at
an overseas post are forwarded by USCIS to the Department of State; applicants in categories
subject to numerical limit are registered on the visa waiting list. Each case is assigned a priority
(i.e., registration) date based on the filing date accorded to the petition. Visa issuance within each
numerically limited category is possible only if the applicant's priority date is within the
applicable final action dates which are published each month by the Department of State in the
Visa Bulletin. Family and Employment preference applicants compete for visa numbers within
their respective categories on a worldwide basis according to priority date; a per-country limit on
such preference immigrants set by INA 202 places a maximum on the amount of visas which
may be issued in a single year to applicants from any one country, however.

In October, the Department of State asked the National Visa Center (NVC) at Portsmouth, New
Hampshire to report the totals of applicants on the waiting list in the various numerically-limited
immigrant categories. Applications for adjustment of status under INA 245 which are pending at
USCIS Offices are not included in the tabulation of the immigrant waiting list data which is
being provided at this time. As such, the following figures ONLY reflect petitions which the
Department of State has received, and do not include the significant number of applications held
with the USCIS Offices.

The following figures have been compiled from the NVC report submitted to the Department on
November 1, 2018, and show the number of immigrant visa applicants on the waiting list in the
various preferences and subcategories subject to numerical limit. All figures reflect persons
registered under each respective numerical limitation, i.e., the totals represent not only principal
applicants or petition beneficiaries, but their spouses and children entitled to derivative status
under INA 203(d) as well.

Family-sponsored Preferences

Category as of Nov 1, 2017 as of Nov 1, 2018 % of Change from 2017 Totals
FAMILY FIRST 288,826 261,704 (-9.4%)
FAMILY SECOND TOTAL 578,083 470,092 (-18.7%)
  2A-Spouses/Children: 213,730 145,861 (-31.8%)
  2B-Adult Sons/Daughters: 364,353 324,231 (-11.0%)
FAMILY THIRD 735,955 689,924 (-6.3%)
FAMILY FOURTH 2,344,993 2,249,722 (-4.1%)
TOTAL 3,947,857 3,671,442 (-7.0%)

(click image for full size chart)

Family-sponsored Preferences

Employment-based Preferences

Category as of Nov 1, 2017 as of Nov 1, 2018 % of Change from 2017 Totals
EMPLOYMENT FIRST 5,527 9,266261,704 (+67.6%)
EMPLOYMENT SECOND 16,725 20,501 (+22.6%)
EMPLOYMENT THIRD TOTAL 59,087 50,966 (-13.7%)
  Skilled Workers: 53,194 43,385 (-18.4%)
  Other Workers: 5,893 7,581 (+28.6%)
EMPLOYMENT FOURTH TOTAL 591 797 (+34.9%)
EMPLOYMENT FIFTH TOTAL 30,259 39,001 (+28.9%)
TOTAL 112,189 120.531 (+7.4%)
       
GRAND TOTAL 4,060,046 3,791,973 (-6.6%)

(click image for full size chart)

Employment-based Preferences

Immigrant Waiting List
By Country


Immigrant visa issuances during fiscal year 2019 will be limited by the terms of INA 201 to no
more than 226,000 in the family-sponsored preferences and approximately 140,000 in the
employment-based preferences. (Visas for "Immediate Relatives" - i.e., spouses, unmarried
children under the age of 21 years, and parents of U.S. citizens - are not subject to numerical
limitation, however.)

It should by no means be assumed that once an applicant is registered, the case is then
continually included in the waiting list totals unless and until a visa is issued. The consular
procedures mandate a regular culling of visa cases to remove from the count those unlikely to see
further action, so that totals are not unreasonably inflated.

The eleven countries with the highest number of waiting list registrants in FY 2019 are listed
below; together these represent 77.8% of the total. This list includes all countries with at least
55,000 persons on the waiting list. There is a seven percent per-country limit, which visa
issuances to any single country may not exceed. This limit serves to avoid the potential
monopolization of virtually all the annual limitation by applicants from only a few countries.
That limitation is not a quota to which any particular country is entitled, however. For FY 2019
the per-country limit will be approximately 25,620.

Country Applicants
Mexico 1,229,505
Philippines 314,229
India 298,571
Vietnam 231,519
China-mainland born 231,519
Bangladesh 169,231
Dominican Republic 146,160
Pakistan 115,625
Haiti 94,506
El Salvador 64,868
Cuba 55,847
All Others 840,393
Worldwide Total 3,791,973

Immigrant Waiting List
By Preference Category


FAMILY-SPONSORED PREFERENCES


Family FIRST Preference:

The worldwide Family FIRST preference numerical limitation is 23,400. The top ten countries
with the highest F1 waiting list totals are:

Country Family First Preference Total Percent of Category Waiting List
Mexico  104,251 39.8%
Dominican Republic 21,294 8.1%
Philippines 17,535 6.7%
Haiti 13,814 5.3%
Jamaica  11,982 4.6%
El Salvador
9,140 3.5%
Colombia 4,627 1.8%
Vietnam 4,579 1.7%
Honduras 4,448 1.7%
Guyana 4,078 1.6%
All Others 65,956 25.2%
Total 261,704 100%

Cases are being added to the waiting list in this category not only by the approval of new FIRST
preference petitions, but also through automatic conversion of pending 2B cases into FIRST
preference upon the naturalization of the petitioner.

The prospect for increasing future demand in the FIRST preference could result in slower
advances in the worldwide final action date as a consequence. Only two countries, Mexico and
Philippines, have FIRST preference final action dates which are earlier than the worldwide date.
(NOTE: A Family 2B petition automatically converts to a Family FIRST petition if the petitioner
naturalizes. However, Section 6 of the Child Status Protection Act of 2002, Pub. L. 107-208,
provides relief for Family 2B applicants who would be disadvantaged by a conversion to Family
FIRST status due to a less favorable Family FIRST final action date).

Family SECOND Preference:

The total Family SECOND preference waiting list figure is 470,092. Of these, 145,861 (31%) are
spouses and children of permanent residents of the United States (the 2A class), and 324,231
(69%) are adult unmarried sons/daughters of permanent residents (the 2B class). The Family
SECOND preference represents 12.8% of the total Family preference waiting list. It will receive
114,200 visa numbers for FY 2019, just over half of the 226,000 family preference total; 77% of
SECOND preference numbers are provided to 2A applicants, while the remaining 23% go to the
2B class.

2A: About 87,900 visa numbers are available for use during FY 2019. The top ten countries with
the highest 2A waiting list totals are:

Country Family 2A Preference Total Percent of Category Waiting List
Mexico  51,407 35.2%
Dominican Republic 15,985 11%
Cuba 13,868 9.5%
El Salvador 6,898 4.7%
Philippines 4,721 3.2%
Haiti 4,053 2.8%
Guatemala 4,015 2.8%
China-mainland born 3,817 2.6%
Honduras 3,434 2.4%
Vietnam 3,336 2.3%
All Others 34,327 23.5%
TOTAL 145,861 100%

Upon naturalization of the petitioner, a pending 2A case is converted automatically into the
“Immediate Relative” visa category, which is not subject to numerical limit and therefore
has no visa waiting period. As a result, the amount of cases being processed in the
“Immediate Relative” category may increase and partially offset new F2A filings.

2B: Visa numbers for this class of adult sons and daughters will be approximately 26,260 during
FY 2019. The waiting list far exceeds the annual limit. The top ten countries with the highest 2B
waiting list totals are:

Country Family 2B Preference Total Percent of Category Waiting List
Mexico  139,673 43.1%
Philippines 46,646 14.4%
Dominican Republic 35,294 10.9%
Haiti 13,419 4.1%
El Salvador 9,187 2.8%
Vietnam 8,671 2.7%
Cuba 8,303 2.6%
China-mainland born 6,694 2.1%
Guatemala 3,992 1.2%
Jamaica 3,974 1.2%
All Others 48,378 14.9%
TOTAL 324,231 100%

Some of the 2B applicants were formerly counted in the 2A waiting list and have since turned
21.

Family THIRD Preference:

The annual visa limit is 23,400. Two oversubscribed countries (Mexico and Philippines) have
sufficiently heavy demand in this preference to require a final action date substantially earlier
than the worldwide date. The top ten countries with the highest F3 waiting list totals are:

Country Family Third Preference Total Percent of Category Waiting List
Mexico  205,277 29.8%
Philippines 119,315 17.3%
India 45,892 6.6%
Vietnam 39,249 5.7%
China-mainland born 20,397 3.0%
Dominican Republic 15,780 2.3%
Haiti 15,538 2.2%
Pakistan 14,129 2.0%
Cuba 12,235 1.8%
El Salvador 10,971 1.6%
All Others 191,141 27.7%
TOTAL 689,924 100%

Family FOURTH Preference:

Applicants registered in the Family FOURTH preference total 2,249,722. Annual visa issuances
are limited to 65,000. The waiting period for the Family FOURTH preference is longer than any
other category because the demand significantly exceeds the number of available visas. The
countries listed below have the largest number of FOURTH preference applicants:

Country Family Fourth Preference Total Percent of Category Waiting List
Mexico  727,289 32.3%
India 210,863 9.4%
Vietnam 173,086 7.7%
Bangladesh 160,345 7.1%
China-mainland born 153,106 6.8%
Philippines 113,489 5.0%
Pakistan 97,249 4.3%
Dominican Republic 57,737 2.6%
Haiti 47,660 2.1%
El Salvador 28,460 1.3%
All Others 480,438 21.4%
TOTAL 2,249,722 100%

The steadily growing waiting period in this preference is now over thirteen years for countries of
most favorable visa availability and even longer for some oversubscribed countries.

EMPLOYMENT-BASED PREFERENCES

It is important to note that eighty percent of all Employment preference immigrants were
processed as adjustment of status cases at USCIS offices during FY 2018. Cases pending with
USCIS are not counted in the consular waiting list tally which is presented below. Therefore, in
several Employment categories the waiting list totals being provided below significantly
understate real immigrant demand. The Employment waiting list counts not only prospective
workers, but also their spouses and children entitled under the law to derivative preference status.

Employment FIRST Preference:

Top countries are:

Country Employment First Preference Percent of Category Waiting List
China-mainland born 4,513 48.7%
India 876 9.4%
Great Britain and Northern Ireland 393 4.2%
Korea, South 358 3.9%
Canada 357 3.8%
Brazil 321 3.5%
Venezuela 285 3.1%
Iran 173 1.9%
France 138 1.5%
Germany 112 1.2%
All Others 1,740 18.8%
WORLDWIDE TOTAL 9,266 100%

A Final Action Date is established at present for all countries.

Employment SECOND Preference:

Top countries are:

Country Employment Second Preference Percent of Category Waiting List
India 13,387 65.3%
China-mainland born 2,479 12.1%
Korea, South 1,526 7.4%
Philippines 367 1.8%
Canada 333 1.6%
All Others 2,409 11.8%
WORLDWIDE TOTAL 20,501 100%

This category is "current" at present for all but two countries.

Employment THIRD Preference:

Top countries are:

Country Employment Third Preference: 
Skilled Worker / Professional Components
Percent of Category Waiting List
India 21,385 49.3%
Philippines 11,149 25.7%
China-mainland born 2,122 4.9%
Korea, South 817 1.9%
United Arab Emirates 628 1.4%
All Others 7,284 16.8%
WORLDWIDE TOTAL 43,385 100%

Employment Third “Other Workers”:

Top Countries are:

Country Employment Third Preference: 
Other Worker Components
Percent of Category Waiting List in These Classes
China-mainland born 2,128 28.1%
Philippines 971 12.8%
Vietnam 920 12.1%
Mexico 712 9.4%
Korea, South 674 8.9%
All Others 2,176 28.7%
WORLDWIDE TOTAL 7,581 100%

Three oversubscribed countries (China-mainland born, India, and the Philippines) have
sufficiently heavy demand in the Employment Third and Third “Other Worker” Preferences to
require final action dates earlier than the worldwide dates.

Employment FOURTH Preference:

Top countries are:

Country Employment Fourth Preference Percent of Category Waiting List in These Classes
India 235 29.5%
Mexico 68 8.5%
Brazil 41 5.1%
Guatemala 34 4.3%
Israel 31 3.9%
All Others 388 48.7%
WORLDWIDE TOTAL 797 100%

The above Employment Fourth Preference category totals include the SR category.
Visa availability is “current” at present for all countries except for El Salvador, Guatemala,
Honduras, and Mexico.

Employment FIFTH Preference:

Top countries are:

Country Employment Fifth Preference Percent of Category Waiting List in These Classes
China-mainland born 33,957 87.1%
Vietnam 1,524 3.9%
India 541 1.4%
Korea, South 448 1.2%
Hong Kong S.A.R. 329 0.8%
All Others 2,202 5.6%
WORLDWIDE TOTAL 39,001 100%

Visa availability is “current” at present for all countries except China-mainland born and
Vietnam.

Family-sponsored Immigrant Waiting List By Country

The ten countries with the highest number of Family-sponsored waiting list registrants are listed
below; together these represent 76.2% of the total. This list includes all countries with at least
64,000 persons on the waiting list. (The per-country limit in INA 202 sets an annual maximum
on the amount of Family preference visas which may be issued to applicants from any one
country; the FY 2019 per-country limit will be 15,820.)

Family-sponsored Preferences

Country Total
Mexico 1,227,897
Philippines 301,706
India 261,765
Vietnam 228,921
China-mainland born 186,307
Bangladesh 168,926
Dominican Republic 146,090
Pakistan 115,111
Haiti 94,484
El Salvador 64,656
All Others 875,579
Worldwide Total 3,671,442

(click image for full size chart)

Family-sponsored Preferences

Family-sponsored Immigrant Waiting List By Region

A breakdown of the NVC waiting list by region is:

Region Total
Africa 118,705
Asia 1,519,719
Europe 122,110
N. America* 1,736,637
Oceania 7,740
S. America 166,531
Family Total 3,671,442

*North America includes Canada, Mexico, Central America and the Caribbean.

(click image for full size chart)

Family-sponsored Preferences

Employment-based Immigrant Waiting List By Country


The five countries with the highest number of Employment-based waiting list registrants are
listed below; together these represent 83.8% of the total. This list includes all countries with at
least 2,500 persons on the waiting list. (The per-country limit in INA 202 sets an annual
maximum on the amount of Employment preference visas which may be issued to applicants
from any one country; the FY 2019 per-country limit will be approximately 9,800.)

Employment-based Preferences

Country Total
China-mainland born 45,212
India 36,806
Philippines 12,523
Korea, South 3,851
Vietnam 2,598
All Others 19,541
Worldwide Total 120,531

(click image for full size chart)

Family-sponsored Preferences

Employment-based Immigrant Waiting List By Region


A breakdown of the NVC waiting list by region is:

Region Total
Africa 1,679
Asia 107,502
Europe 4,113
N. America* 4,012
Oceania 201
S. America 3,024
Family Total 120,531

*North America includes Canada, Mexico, Central America and the Caribbean.

(click image for full size chart)

Family-sponsored Preferences

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