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 (10-22-19)
Visa Bulletin Predictions – Family-based Preference Categories
The F2A Final Action Date, which became current in July 2019, remains current across all countries for November. This trend has been surprising because Charlie expected that there would be a surge in demand which would have required imposition of a Final Action Date no later than January. The demand for F2A across countries remains extremely low, with applicants not responding to the agent of choice letters, and at this time there is no indication that a date will need to be imposed in the near future.
The Mexico family-based preference categories, with the exception of F2A Mexico which is current, will continue to experience limited movement for the foreseeable future due to a high level of demand. Expect movements consistent with those experienced during the past fiscal year.
Expect to see continued rapid movement in the Final Action Dates for the Philippines family-based preference categories, in an effort to generate demand.
The demand trends in the family-based preference categories are unusual. In the past, the Final Action Dates were also very old, yet demand materialized when the dates advanced. More recently, despite rapid forward movement in the Final Action Dates, applicants are simply not coming forward to process their immigrant visas at the rate that they had done so in the past.
As a result of this low demand, Charlie may start to advance the family-based Final Action Dates at a faster rate than reported in the October 2019 Visa Bulletin. Keep in mind that when significant demand finally starts to materialize from this forward movement, it could cause date movements to slow, stop, or retrogress.
Visa Bulletin Predictions – Employment-based Preference Categories
EB-1: Visa Bulletin Predictions
For November, the EB-1 Final Action Dates advanced according to this prediction with EB-1 Worldwide(including El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras, Mexico, Philippines, and Vietnam) advancing approximately 5 weeks from April 22, 2018 to June 1, 2018; EB-1 China advancing a full three months from November 1, 2016 to February 1, 2017; and EB-1 India holding at January 1, 2015.
Charlie noted that for November, EB-1 China advanced the anticipated three full months due to lower than expected demand, but cautioned that the rate of advancement could slow down.
Do not expect EB-1 India to advance for some time since there is already significant number used and pending demand in that category. Charlie noted that he has already given out 17% of the targeted EB-1 India numbers set aside for Q1 of the fiscal year.
Since EB-1 China and EB-1 India will be subject to their per country limits in the foreseeable future, the only possibility of more rapid movement in these categories is if demand for visas in EB-1 Worldwide (including El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras, Mexico, Philippines, and Vietnam) were to fall below that allowed under the overall annual limit.
The latest report Charlie received from USCIS shows significantly lower demand in EB-1 Worldwide (including El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras, Mexico, Philippines, and Vietnam) compared to the last few years. He notes that the potential demand reported for EB-2 Worldwide and EB-3 Worldwide combined dwarfs the reported demand for EB-1 Worldwide (including El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras, Mexico, Philippines, and Vietnam).
If this low demand trend continues, EB-1 Worldwide (including El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras, Mexico, Philippines, and Vietnam) could potentially return to current at some point this fiscal year. Do not expect to see this happen prior to April at the earliest, and be cautioned that a significant increase in demand in this category could prevent this possibility. If EB-1 Worldwide (including El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras, Mexico, Philippines, and Vietnam) does return to current again, EB-1 India, and possibly China, would benefit from the “otherwise unused numbers” which would allow the Final Action Date to advance at a faster pace for those two countries.
In the past, Charlie was able to wait until closer to the end of the fiscal year to redistribute the otherwise unused worldwide numbers in the EB-3 and EB-1 categories, allowing the India and China categories to advance. More recently, the high demand in EB-3 and EB-1 Worldwide (including El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras, Mexico, Philippines, and Vietnam), prevented these categories for China and India from advancing as they had in the past. This has resulted in significant amounts of pending demand awaiting forward movement of the Final Action Dates, particularly for India. Charlie reports that there are 17,000 pre-adjudicated EB-1 Indiarequests pending at USCIS or overseas posts. No forward movement is expected in EB-1 India through January. However, when the date does begin to move, there is a potential for EB-1 India to leap forward by up to 6-8 months because of low concentration of demand in the weekly groupings.
EB-2: Visa Bulletin Predictions
EB-2 Worldwide (including EB-2 El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras, EB-2 Mexico, EB-2 Philippines, and EB-2 Vietnam) remains current for November and is expected to remain current for the foreseeable future.
In November, EB-2 India advances only one day from May 12, 2009 to May 13, 2009, which is consistent with last month’s prediction that it would advance at a pace of “(u)p to one week.” Charlie is starting to see an increase in upgrades from EB-3 India to EB-2 India, with the numbers requested so far in October most likely being attributable to upgrade requests.
EB-2 China advances two months in November from January 1, 2015 to March 1, 2015. Given that the Final Action Date for EB-3 China (November 1, 2015) is eight months ahead of EB-2 China, it is likely to prompt downgrades which could take the pressure off of EB-2 China demand, causing that category to advance.
EB-3: Visa Bulletin Predictions
The EB-3 category bears watching as we continue to move into Q2 of the fiscal year and beyond, and especially EB-3 Other Workers. Charlie is very surprised at the high level of numbers used in this category this fiscal year as well as pending demand for this category, noting that it is significantly higher than it has been in the past to the tune of thousands. Nevertheless, Charlie still expects EB-3 Worldwide (including EB-3 El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras, EB-3 Mexico, and EB-3 Vietnam) to remain current through at least January.
EB-3 China is receiving a high level of downgrade requests, with 300 requests in October alone, causing its Final Action Date to hold at November 1, 2015 for November. As noted above, if this trend continues it will limit the advancement of EB-3 China while potentially increasing the rate of advancement for EB-2 China.
EB-3 Philippines had pent up demand but the lower incoming demand trend allowed the date to advance 3.5 months to February 1, 2018 for November.
EB-4: Visa Bulletin Predictions
The Final Action Date for EB-4 El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras continues to hold at July 1, 2016 for November, while EB-4 Mexico advances just under two months to July 22, 2017. All other countries (EB-4 Worldwide, including China, India, Philippines and Vietnam) remain current.
Do not expect to see any forward movement in EB-4 El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras for the foreseeable future, as a result of high levels of demand within the established date.
Demand in EB-4 Mexico is starting to rise and Charlie plans to watch this category closely.
EB-4 India, which became unavailable at the end of the fiscal year, is recovering at a higher than normal rate. If its current demand trend continues, the category will become oversubscribed much earlier than in past years, but the category should remain available through at least January. Whereas in the past, we were cautioned that there might be a Final Action Date imposed for EB-4 India in the last quarter of the fiscal year, current demand trends suggest that this could occur as early as Q2 of the fiscal year.
EB-5: Visa Bulletin Predictions
As Charlie will be speaking at the Invest in the USA (IIUSA) EB-5 Conference in Seattle on Tuesday, October 29, 2019, we are not including EB-5 projections.
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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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