February 2012 Visa Bulletin: EB2 India & China Advances to 01.Jan.2010!

The U.S. Department of State (DOS) Visa Bulletin for February 2012 brings another round of astonishing advancement in the employment-based, second preference (EB2) category for India and China. The cutoff date movement for February 2012 follows significant advancement in the preceding visa bulletins for January and December. The following summarizes the February Visa Bulletin EB categories and provides explanations of the EB2 advancement and predictions for future cutoff dates for the benefit of MurthyDotCom and MurthyBulletin readers.

Summary of Visa Bulletin

Employment-Based, First Preference (EB1)

This category is current for all countries of chargeability.

Employment-Based, Second Preference (EB2)

As expected, this category continues to be current for all countries of chargeability, other than India and China. Surprisingly, as good news for those affected, the DOS decided to advance the EB2 cutoff date for India and China by a year, to January 1, 2010. This is effective during the month of February 2012.

As explained in previous articles, available on MurthyDotCom, the DOS has been rapidly advancing the EB2 India and China cutoff dates in anticipation of the availability of excess visa numbers at the end of Fiscal Year 2012 (FY12). However, given advancement of almost ten months in the January Visa Bulletin, it is pleasantly unexpected that February brings even greater advancement.

Employment-Based, Third Preference (EB3)

The EB3 category continues to advance only very slightly in February 2012. The cutoff date for the category of all chargeability areas except those listed, as well as for Mexico and the Philippines, advances by approximately three weeks to February 22, 2006. India’s cutoff date moves only a week, yet again, to August 15, 2002. China’s cutoff date moves by more than a month to December 1, 2004.

Other Workers’ Category

The EB3 other workers’ category reflects advancement for the categories of all chargeability areas except those listed, the Philippines and Mexico, with a new cutoff date of February 22, 2006. China’s cutoff date is unchanged, at April 22, 2003. India’s cutoff date moves to by two weeks to August 15, 2002.

Employment-Based, Fourth (EB4) and Fifth (EB5) Preferences

These categories remain current for all countries of chargeability.

Explanation and Predictions

As regular MurthyDotCom and MurthyBulletin readers are aware, the forward movement of the EB2 cutoff dates is an effort to fill the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) case “pipeline” in anticipation of the availability of excess visa numbers at the end of FY12. Cases must be filed well in advance in order to be ready for approval before the end of the fiscal year. For this reason, the DOS has been pushing the EB2 cutoff dates forward throughout FY12 (which began in October 2011).

According to the February 2012 Visa Bulletin, despite earlier EB2 cutoff movement, the volume of EB2 I-485 filings has remained “extremely low.” Thus, the DOS continues efforts to generate sufficient I-485 filings to use the visa numbers allocated for FY12 by advancing the EB2 cutoff date in the February 2012 Visa Bulletin.

We note that this rapid and dramatic movement of the EB2 cutoff dates most likely is a temporary measure. Once the targeted goal of I-485 filings or immigrant visa applications at consulates is reached, cutoff date movement in this category will slow down or stop. It is also quite possible that, once the demand for visa numbers materializes, the cutoff date in EB2 for the affected countries could retrogress. Thus, we generally recommend that those who have become eligible to file the I-485 in January, and now February, 2012 should be diligent in filing their I-485s while the priority dates are current.

The events in the EB2 category do not impact the extremely slow movement in EB3. The visa bulletin predictions in EB3 range from anticipated monthly movement of up to one month for all countries other than India. The estimate for India is only up to two weeks each month.

We at the Murthy Law Firm will continue to update readers on visa bulletin developments and reliable predictions each month, following DOS issuance of the monthly visa bulletin.

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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.