Visa bulletin predictions are released on a monthly basis by Charlie Oppenheim of the State Department to show how rapidly or slowly he expects the priority dates in the employment-based and family-based categories to move forward, or to retrogress.
For the millions of people waiting in line in the employment-based and family-based categories, the visa bulletin predictions give them an idea of when they will be able to become lawful permanent residents.
You can stay up-to-date with the waiting times in the Visa Bulletin and the visa bulletin predictions by subscribing to our Free E-Mail Newsletter.
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Visa Bulletin Predictions by DOS’s Charlie Oppenheim (9-18-19)
In October, we typically see full recovery or essentially full recovery of the final action dates from the previous year. Until several years ago, stakeholders could normally anticipate that low levels of demand would allow for thousands of unused numbers from EB-4 and EB-5 to become available for use in the EB-1 category. Not only have those numbers not been available in recent years, the high demand for numbers has required the application of final action dates for all countries, and the dates for China and India have actually retrogressed during the past year. Going into the upcoming fiscal year, there is no expectation that there will be any extra unused numbers available to EB-1 India and EB-1 China in the foreseeable future. Charlie anticipates that both EB-1 India and EB-1 China will be subject to their minimum statutory limits of (approximately) 2,803 visa numbers for at least the first half of Fiscal Year 2020.
USCIS has designated the Dates for Filing charts for both family and employment-based preference cases. For the F2A category, there are dates listed on the Dates for Filing chart. However, the category is “current” on the Final Action Dates chart. USCIS has indicated that applicants in the F2A category may file using the Final Action Dates chart for October 2019.
Visa Bulletin Predictions – Family-based Preference Categories
Family-based preference categories will likely remain around the same with most categories moving at a steady pace similar to what we have seen over the past few months.
For worldwide family dates, Charlie anticipates potential monthly movement:
F1: Up to two months
F2A: CURRENT, corrective action should be expected by February
F2B: Up to six weeks
F3: Up to one month
F4: Up to six weeks
In a surprising trend F2A demand is still very low with applicants failing to apply in a timely manner despite the availability of visa numbers on a “current” basis since July 2019. It is anticipated that F2A demand will increase in late 2019 or early 2020 and a final action date will be reestablished. As has been the case for the past few months, the F2A final action date will remain current across categories for October 2019.
Fairly sizeable demand in the FB Mexico preference categories continues. The ongoing lack of significant demand in the FB Philippines preference categories has resulted in artificially rapid movement in those final action dates. This continues to be done to maximize number use under the various annual limits. There may need to be some corrective action to this pattern when/if demand should materialize.
Visa Bulletin Predictions – Employment-based Preference Categories
For more information see the “Breaking News” item at the top of this month’s check-in. In FY2020, AILA members can expect to see the EB-1 categories continue to be separated into three different final action dates: One for EB-1 Worldwide (including EB-1 El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras, EB-1 Mexico, EB-1 Philippines, and EB-1 Vietnam) and two others for EB-1 China and EB-1 India respectively. EB-1 India and EB-1 China will continue to have separate dates and will be subject to the annual minimum per country limit of approximately 2,803. Charlie would like to remind AILA members that for planning purposes they should not expect any of the EB-1 categories to become current at any time in the foreseeable future.
Charlie further predicts that there will not be any movement for EB-1 India until January 2020 at the earliest. There are currently approximately 16,000 EB-1 India applicants that were interviewed, adjudicated, and are simply waiting for a visa to become available. Potential upgrades from EB-2 India could make EB-1 India backlogs worse. EB-1 India is expected to remain severely backlogged for years, but it is too early to predict what the date movement may be in the coming years.
Potential EB-1 movement:
Worldwide: Up to 3 months
China: Up to three months
India: Little if any forward movement
EB-2 India will continue to have limited forward movement for the foreseeable future. This is also true to a lesser extent for EB-2 China, which reflects a change from years past where there was generally a full recovery from early year retrogression. Due to overall increase in EB-2 China, Charlie does not expect a full recovery in FY2020.
EB-3 China does not appear to have the same level of demand at this time. With the inversion of the EB-2 and EB-3 dates, it is possible the EB-2 downgrades will impact movement of the EB-3 China date later in FY2020.
At this point, demand is within the amount of available numbers to satisfy the needs for EB-2 and EB-3 worldwide. Should increasing levels of demand begin to materialize it may necessitate setting a final action date for either EB-2 and/or EB-3 worldwide at some point during the second half of the fiscal year.
Potential EB-2 movement:
China: Up to two months
India: Up to one week
EB-3 has returned to current status for worldwide, El Salvador, Honduras, Guatemala, Mexico and Vietnam.
There has been a partial recovery of the dates for EB-3 India, EB-3 China, and the EB-3 Philippines categories. There may be irregularity in movement for these categories as Charlie does not have as much visibility into pending demand. EB-3 India will have little if any forward movement until possibly January 2020.
As discussed above, at this point, demand is keeping pace with available numbers to satisfy the needs for EB-2 and EB-3 worldwide. In the coming months, increased demand may materialize which would necessitate setting a priority date for EB-2 and/or EB-3 worldwide.
Demand has been steadily increasing for EB-3 Other Workers. Of particular note is the tremendous increase in demand for EB-3 Other Workers from Mexico. The final action date is typically the same for EB-3 and EB-3 Other Workers, however, separate dates may need to be imposed for some categories later in FY2020.
Potential EB-3 movement:
China: Little if any forward movement
India: Little if any forward movement
Mexico: Will remain at the Worldwide date
Philippines: Up to several months
Special Immigrant Juveniles (SIJ) is using a vast amount of numbers under the EB-4 annual limit. The uptick in demand explains why EB-4 El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras are subject to final action date. In years past, many of the EB-4 numbers would have been unused, allowing them to fall up to EB-1.
Potential EB-4 movement:
Most Countries: CURRENT
El Salvador: Little if any forward movement
Guatemala: Little if any forward movement
Honduras: Little if any forward movement
Mexico: Up to four months
It is still too early to know how much movement there will be in the EB-5 preference. EB-5 China, EB-5 India, and EB-5 Vietnam will continue to have final action dates. Despite rumors to the contrary, EB-5 India will continue to have a final action date in the foreseeable future and is not expected to return to “current” status. The same will be true for EB-5 Vietnam. If the annual limit for EB-5 were higher, it would benefit China, India, and Vietnam. More information is expected to be available for this category after mid-October.
Potential EB-5 movement:
China: Too early to predict
India: Too early to predict
Vietnam: Too early to predict
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Carl Shusterman served as an INS Trial Attorney (1976-82) before opening a firm specializing exclusively in US immigration law. He is a Certified Specialist in Immigration Law who has testified as an expert witness before the US Senate Immigration Subcommittee. Carl was featured in the February 2018 edition of SuperLawyers Magazine.
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