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 Employment Categories and the Family Categories. You should also note that the visa bulletin is backward-looking, meaning that it indicates how long people in a given category have been waiting for visas, not the waiting times for 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. For October, EB-1 Worldwide along with all other countries except China and India, advances ten months to April 1, 2017. Charlie remains pessimistic that the EB-1 Worldwide final action date will advance before the end of this calendar year. He forecloses the possibility of advancement in November and is pessimistic that there will be advancement in December but notes that there will be some forward movement in all EB-1 categories after the beginning of 2019. Demand is sufficiently high that Charlie is unable to predict at this time whether this category will become current in FY 2019. Charlie does not expect any advancement of EB-1 China or EB-1 India before January 2019 and believes it is “almost guaranteed” that both categories will be subject to a final action date through the fiscal year.
EB-2 and EB-3 Worldwide. As previously predicted, EB-2 Worldwide and EB-3 Worldwide will return to current in October and will remain current for the foreseeable future and well into the next calendar year. Charlie has not seen expected growth in EB-3 Worldwide.
EB-2 China and EB-3 China. While EB-2 China recovers to April 1, 2015 in October, it will not surpass the EB-3 China final action date, which advances to June 1, 2015. It is unclear whether EB-3 China’s two-month lead will be significant enough to spur downgrade demand. If there are not as many downgrades, EB-3 China could advance more rapidly than expected. Charlie has no visibility into EB-3 China “downgrade” demand until a visa number is requested, so this category may move modestly to avoid future retrogression. Members should continue to watch these two categories closely.
EB-2 India and EB-3 India. EB-2 India advances to March 26, 2009 in October, with EB-3 India trailing behind by less than three months at January 1, 2009. Members should carefully watch movements in these two categories. Based on the dates for filing and depending on the level of demand in each of these categories, it is possible that EB-3 India may surpass EB-2 India at some point this fiscal year.
EB-3 Philippines and Other Workers Philippines. As predicted, EB-3 Philippines and Other Workers Philippines will recover to June 1, 2017 in October. Members should expect only minimal movement during the first quarter of the fiscal year.
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
Since most family-based cases are processed at Embassies/Consulates, Charlie’s visibility into family-based demand is good, which avoids dramatic fluctuations in the final action dates. These categories are expected to advance modestly or hold steady, except Mexico. Given lower than anticipated demand members may see the Mexico family-based categories move more rapidly than normal. Demand from China continues to be relatively low, whereas India demand has rebounded over the past year.
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 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.
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 as featured in the February 2018 edition of SuperLawyers Magazine.
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