United States: Immigrant Visa Processing Changes – EB2 India Retrogresses; EB2/3 China Retrogresses- Visa Office On Priority Dates, Demand, And Predictions

Last Updated: June 10 2016
Article by Alka Bahal

In our continuing series of reports, Charles ("Charlie") Oppenheim, Chief of the Visa Control and Reporting Division, U.S. Department of State, shares his most recent analysis of current trends and future projections for the various immigrant preference categories with AILA (the American Immigration Lawyers' Association).

Below are highlights from the most recent "check-in with Charlie" (May 9, 2016), reflecting his analysis of current trends and future projections for the various immigrant preference categories.

This month, Charlie examines the final action date movements in the June 2016 Visa Bulletin and his analysis of current trends and future projections for the various immigrant preference categories.

Family-Based Projections. In May, the final action dates for China and FB-4 India remained consistent with the FB-4 Worldwide final action date of July 22, 2003. As noted in the May Visa Bulletin and in previous editions of this column, it was anticipated that FB-4 India might retrogress as early as June and FB-4 China might retrogress by late summer.

As expected, FB-4 India will retrogress in June as a result of the high level of demand in this preference category. In addition, because FB-4 India number usage is so close to the annual limit, there is "no hope" that the current cut-off date of January 1, 2001 will advance for the remainder of the fiscal year. Similarly, due to extremely high demand, the final action date for FB-4 China will retrogress in June to January 1, 2003. However, unlike FB-4 India, there is still a possibility that the cut-off date for FB-4 China will advance before October.

Continue to Watch EB-4 and Certain Religious Workers (SR) Preference Categories. It is expected that the final action date of January 1, 2010 that was imposed in May for EB-4 and certain religious workers from El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras will remain the same for the remainder of this fiscal year. This is necessary to ensure that numbers remain available for applicants from countries which have not yet reached their per-country limit for this category.

Last month we reported that it would be "extremely likely" that EB-4 India and EB-4 Mexico would also become oversubscribed during the summer. At this time, it appears that it will definitely happen, and that it is only a matter of when the retrogression will occur. When it does occur, a January 1, 2010 cut-off date will be applied.

The establishment of a cut-off date for EB-4 India and EB-4 Mexico is impacted by a lack of unused numbers that would otherwise fall down to these categories. Demand for EB-4 Mexico is driven by high levels of demand in Special Immigrant Juvenile (SIJS) filings. By contrast, demand for EB-4 India is driven by a number of factors, including demand for religious worker visas.

China EB-2 and EB-3. As reported in the May Visa Bulletin, the final action date for EB-2 China is September 1, 2012 and for EB-3 China, August 15, 2013. In previous months, we reported that EB-3 China would likely retrogress in June and that number usage would also stop at that time. In June, the final action date for both EB-2 and EB-3 China will retrogress to January 1, 2010. It is expected that this cut-off date will remain in place, thereby ending the downgrade phenomenon, at least through the end of this fiscal year.

EB-2 Worldwide and EB-2 India Demand. As a result of extremely high EB-2 demand, it has been determined that there will no longer be any "otherwise" unused numbers available for use in excess of the normal EB-2 per-country limit. While this has occurred in the past, it has not previously happened this early in the fiscal year. The EB-2 India final action date for May is November 8, 2008. As the combined EB-2 Worldwide and EB-2 India demand is expected to remain high, a retrogression of the EB-2 India final action date to October 1, 2004 was required for June. As noted in the June Visa Bulletin, Charlie predicts that the final action date may nevertheless advance slowly for the remainder of the fiscal year, consistent with the pace of EB-3 India advancement.

EB-2 India demand is partly attributable to EB-3 India upgrades. Visibility into EB upgrade and downgrade requests only happens at the time the I-485 is adjudicated and a visa number is requested. If visibility into demand for employment based visas was possible earlier in the process, retrogressions would not happen so abruptly.

EB-1 Demand and Impact to Other Categories. Demand for EB-1 Worldwide remains very high. As we cautioned last month, should the demand continue at this pace or increase, it is possible that some type of corrective action may be required before the end of the fiscal year.

You may access the June 2016 Visa Bulletin here and the May 2016 Visa Bulletin here.



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Alka Bahal
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