The visa bulletin of the US State Department shows backlogs in both the family and the employment-based categories. Most immigrant visas to the US are numerically limited both by preference category and by country of chargeability (which is, in most cases, one’s country of birth). Most immigrants are sponsored either by U.S. citizen or permanent resident relatives or, alternately, through their employment or investment in the United States.
If you are unfamiliar with the Visa Bulletin, read our explanation of the those currently applying.
On September 14, USCIS announced that it would accept adjustment of status applications based on the “Dates for Filing” chart for both family-based and employment-based cases. Since DOS’s Charlie Oppenheim sets the “Dates for Filing” based on where he expects the final action dates will be in the next 8 to 12 months, these charts are also helpful in understanding how far the final action dates are likely to advance in the near term. Understanding these charts can help immigrants and their attorneys plan accordingly.
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The employment-based (EB) categories in the visa bulletin are as follows:
- EB-1 Priority Workers
- EB-2 Advanced Degree Professionals
- EB-3 Professionals & Other Workers
- EB-4 Religious Workers & Others
- EB-5 Investors
An applicant’s priority date is the day that the government received the employer’s PERM application. However, if a PERM application is not required, the priority date is the date the government received an EB visa petition (I-140, I-526). Watch our EB videos to see various methods of shortening your waiting time for a green card.
State Department’s Charlie Oppenheim’s Predictions for EB Categories
EB-1. As predicted last month, the EB-1 final action dates hold steady in November. Although it now appears likely that there will be some forward movement in December for EB-1 China, EB-1 India and EB-1 Worldwide, it remains unclear how far these categories will advance, though they will not return to current this calendar year. Charlie also cautions AILA members not to expect EB-1 Worldwide to return to current in the foreseeable future and that this is likely to be “the new normal” through at least the first half of the fiscal year.
EB-2 China and EB-3 China. EB-2 China leaps forward one and one-half months to May 15, 2015 in November, while EB-3 China holds at June 1, 2015, rendering EB-3 China only two weeks ahead of EB-2 China. Based on available demand data, members should expect EB-2 China to continue to advance. In contrast, the current demand pattern in EB-3 China continues to be heavy, prohibiting forward advancement at this time. It is unclear whether this surge in EB-3 China demand is attributable to downgrades from EB-2 or new third preference filings. This creates the possibility that EB-2 China will surpass EB-3 China again.
EB-2 India and EB-3 India. There is no advancement in November in any of the employment-based final action dates for India. The September projection of limited movement in EB-2 Indiacontinues to apply, and any advancement that may occur in December will be limited to no more than one week. In contrast, demand in EB-3 India is light, so members should start to see a fairly sizeable advancement in this category of at least a few weeks (and possibly months) in December.
The EB-3 India final action date moved very rapidly over the past year, advancing almost one and one-half years. Current demand projections make it likely that EB-3 India could surpass EB-2 India at some point this fiscal year.
EB-3 Philippines and Other Workers Philippines. In November, EB-3 Philippines and Other Workers Philippines advances one week to June 8, 2017. Members should continue to expect only minimal movement in this category during the first quarter of the fiscal year. This slow forward movement is based on a concern that rapid forward movement during the past year will eventually result in an increased level of demand.
EB-4. The final action date for EB-4 El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras holds at February 15, 2016 in November due to a significant amount of potential demand prior to that date, and pre-adjudicated demand beyond it. EB-4 Mexico will continue to advance at a steady pace until it reaches its per country limit, at which time it will return to the same final action date as EB-4 El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras. It will probably take until at least the spring for this to occur.
EB-5. EB-5 (Regional Center and Non-Regional Center) China holds at August 15, 2014 in November, with EB-5 (Regional Center and Non-Regional Center) Vietnam continuing to advance until it reaches its per country limit, at which time, its final action date will track that of EB-5 China.
VISA BULLETIN – EMPLOYMENT
A. FINAL ACTION DATES FOR EMPLOYMENT-BASED PREFERENCE CASES –
|World||China||El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras||India||Mexico||Philippines||Vietnam|
B. EMPLOYMENT-BASED FILING DATE CHART – The chart below reflects dates for filing visa applications within a timeframe justifying immediate action in the application process. Applicants for immigrant visas who have a priority date earlier than the application date in the chart may assemble and submit required documents to the Department of State’s National Visa Center, following receipt of notification from the National Visa Center containing detailed instructions. The application date for an oversubscribed category is the priority date of the first applicant who cannot submit documentation to the National Visa Center for an immigrant visa.
|World||China||El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras||India||Mexico||Philippines|
The family-based categories in the visa bulletin are as follows:
- F-1 Unmarried Adult Sons & Daughters of US Citizens
- F-2A Spouses & Children of LPRs
- F-2B Unmarried Adult Sons & Daughters of LPRs
- F-3 Married Sons & Daughters of US citizens
- F-4 Brothers & Sisters of US Citizens
An applicant’s priority date is the day that the government received the I-130 Petition. For more on family-based visas and how you may be able to shorten your waiting time, see our video above.
State Department’s Charlie Oppenheim’s Predictions for FB Categories
All of the family-based final action dates advance in November with the exception of FB-1 Mexicoand FB-3 Mexico, which will hold at August 1, 1997 and December 22, 1995. Charlie reports that responses to Agent of Choice letters remain low.
Demand for FB-3 India is extremely heavy. Charlie reports that he has not previously seen this much consistent demand in the FB-3 category in any other country.
VISA BULLETIN – FAMILY
A. FINAL ACTION DATES FOR FAMILY-SPONSORED CASES – These dates are consistent with prior visa bulletin priority dates.
B. FAMILY-SPONSORED FILING DATE CHART – The chart below reflects dates for filing visa applications within a time frame justifying immediate action in the application process. Applicants for immigrant visas who have a priority date earlier than the application date in the chart may assemble and submit required documents to the Department of State’s National Visa Center, following receipt of notification from the National Visa Center containing detailed instructions. The application date for an oversubscribed category is the priority date of the first applicant who cannot submit documentation to the National Visa Center for an immigrant visa.
A priority date is established by the submission of a relative visa petition in the family categories.
The word “Current” indicates that no backlog presently exists in a particular category. Alternately, the word “Unavailable” indicates that it is not possible to apply for permanent residence in that category.
The dates in the Visa Bulletin can be misleading. They may look closer on the Bulletin than they are in reality.
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Carl Shusterman served as an INS Trial Attorney (1976-82) before opening an 8 attorney firm specializing in immigration law. He is a Certified Specialist in Immigration Law who has testified as an expert witness before the Senate Immigration Subcommittee. Carl was featured in the February 2018 edition of SuperLawyers Magazine.
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