Fiscal Year 2014 Visa Bulletin Predictions

On October 23, 2013, Chief of the Immigrant Visa Control and Reporting Division, U.S. Department of State, who is responsible for content of the visa bulletin, provided predictions for future visa bulletin developments. Several attorneys from the Murthy Law Firm attended the October 23rd American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) meeting to gain the latest information and insights on this key topic. The following outlines expectations for the employment based (EB) categories for fiscal year 2014 (FY14).

Expectations for Employment-Based Categories

Employment Based, First Preference (EB1)

The DOS anticipates that the EB1 category will remain current for all of FY14, regardless of country of chargeability.  It is important to understand that unused visa numbers in the EB4 and EB5 categories are made available to the EB1 category. Unused EB1 numbers, in turn, are shifted down to meet excess demand in EB2. Usage in this category thus impacts EB2.

Employment Based, Fifth Preference (EB5)

As explained, unused EB5 visa numbers shift into EB1, thereby impacting the movement of cutoff dates and availability of visa numbers in EB2. Information about EB5 is therefore pertinent, before addressing the predictions for EB2.

In FY13, while EB5 visa number usage increased significantly, there were still 3,000 excess numbers that were shifted up to EB1. This fiscal year, EB5 demand is increasing beyond the usage of last year. The demand for EB5 so far in FY14 is at a level that likely will make it necessary to set a cutoff date for China, as that country utilizes the most EB5 numbers.

Employment Based, Second Preference (EB2): Worldwide

The EB2 category for worldwide, or rest of the world (ROW), is expected to remain current during FY14. The DOS has noticed a continuation of EB2 worldwide usage with older priority dates. This is an indication that individuals from all countries continue to use the EB3-to-EB2 "upgrade" strategy, due to backlogs in EB3.

Employment Based, Second Preference (EB2): India

As MurthyDotCom readers were alerted in a recent NewsFlash! (24.Oct.2013) the EB2 India category will retrogress by several years in December 2013. The retrogression is required to keep the EB2 visa number usage within allowed annual limits. The exact cutoff date has not yet been made public, but it is expected to be between late 2004 and early 2005. Following this retrogression, the DOS does not expect to be able to advance the EB2 visa numbers prior to May 2014.

Even with several years of retrogression, the DOS expects that there still will be some demand for EB2 India numbers as a result of EB3-to-EB2 upgrade cases with old priority dates. The DOS will be able to advance the numbers later in the fiscal year, if there are available visa numbers that otherwise would go unused and can be shifted from the EB2 worldwide category.

Employment Based, Second Preference (EB2): China

The DOS expects that the cutoff date for EB2 China will advance by approximately three-to-five weeks per month. It is also expected that the cutoff date for EB3 China will remain more favorable than the cutoff date for EB2 China.

Employment Based, Third Preference (EB3): Worldwide, China, and Mexico

The EB3 worldwide category advanced considerably in FY13, and this is expected to continue in FY14. The DOS says it is necessary to generate new filings in the EB3 worldwide category. Thus, it is expected that there will be advancement of the cutoff date by up to a year in the December 2013 Visa Bulletin. The DOS further expects to be able to continue to advance the cutoff date, although less dramatically, in January, February, and possibly, March 2014. EB3 cutoff dates for China and Mexico will match the worldwide cutoff date.

Employment Based, Third Preference (EB3): India and Philippines

The situation is quite unfavorable for EB3 India. The DOS predicts no movement at all in this category in the December 2013 Visa Bulletin. The status will have to be carefully reviewed for early calendar year 2014, as it may be necessary to retrogress this category. The DOS reports it is not seeing new demand in this category, but its target visa number usage has been exhausted for the start of FY14.

The EB3 cutoff date for the Philippines is expected to advance by approximately two weeks per month in FY14.

Employment Based, Fourth Preference (EB4)

This category is expected to remain current for all countries of chargeability.

Conclusion

We at the Murthy Law Firm know that the predictions for EB2 India are disappointing for many. While the advancement in the cutoff dates has allowed for approval of numerous long-pending I-485s, the demand simply exceeds the tiny annual supply. The same holds true for EB3 India, only there is no chance of available excess numbers shifting in to help alleviate the backlog. The issues surrounding cutoff dates and visa number availability are complex with many interconnected factors impacting the visa bulletin content. MurthyDotCom readers will continue to receive the latest updates and explanations, as new information becomes available.

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Disclaimer: The information provided here is of a general nature and may not apply to any specific or particular circumstance. It is not to be construed as legal advice nor presumed indefinitely up to date.

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