May 2012 Visa Bulletin: EB2 India and China Retrogression

The U.S. Department of State (DOS) has released the May 2012 Visa Bulletin. As expected, based upon an earlier DOS announcement, the May Visa Bulletin has a retrogressed cutoff date of August 15, 2007. This was discussed in DOS Issues New EB2 Cutoff Projection (23.Mar.2012). The Visa Bulletin contains some explanations and projections for the future. This summary of the May 2012 Visa Bulletin is 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)

The EB2 category remains current for all countries of chargeability except India and China. The EB2 cutoff date for India and China is retrogressing dramatically to a new cutoff date of August 15, 2007. This cutoff date is effective starting in May 2012. It continues through April, therefore, to be possible to file adjustment-of-status (I-485) cases under the April Visa Bulletin cutoff date. To do so, the I-485 must reach the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) on or before the last USCIS work day in April 2012.

This retrogression is not a surprise. The DOS repeatedly explained that it likely would need to retrogress the EB2 India and China cutoff dates once a sufficient level of visa number demand was created as a result of the advancement of the dates. The retrogression did occur earlier than anticipated, however. As explained in the May Visa Bulletin, demand increased more quickly than expected. As a result, the cutoff date had to be retrogressed to control visa number usage.

As many of our MurthyDotCom and MurthyBulletin readers know, the retrogression reflected in the May Visa Bulletin has already been put into effect for internal case processing. This means that, while it is possible to file I-485 cases under the April Visa Bulletin cutoff date, visa numbers are not available for the approval of the many pending EB2 India and China I-485 cases. This development was explained in our April 6, 2012 NewsBrief, EB2 Visa Numbers Depleted for India and China.

Employment-Based, Third Preference (EB3)

The EB3 category advances by just under a month to May 1, 2006 for the category of all chargeability areas except those listed, as well as for Mexico and the Philippines. China’s cutoff date advances by a full month to April 2005. India moves forward by only a few days, to September 8, 2002.

Other Workers’ Category

The EB3 other workers’ category advancement is also about a month in the category of all chargeability areas except those listed, as well as for the Philippines and Mexico, with a new cutoff date of May 1, 2006. China’s cutoff date continues to be unchanged at April 22, 2003. India’s cutoff date advances slightly to September 8, 2002.

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

These categories remain current for all countries of chargeability.

Explanation and Predictions

As explained above, the retrogression in EB2 India and China was inevitable. However, it occurred earlier than even the DOS had anticipated. The Visa Bulletin states that every effort will be made to return the cutoff date for EB2 India and China to the date contained in the April Visa Bulletin in fiscal year 2013 (FY13). FY13 starts on October 1, 2012.

This means that, once more immigrant visa numbers become available in FY13, the DOS will try to restore EB2 cutoff dates to where they were before this retrogression. This should not be interpreted to mean that the cutoff dates will return to May 1, 2010 once more visa numbers become available. The cutoff date established in October 2012, as it always does, will remain a function of supply and demand. The May Visa Bulletin states that it is not possible to speculate the cutoff date that will become effective in October 2012 until late in the summer. MurthyDotCom and MurthyBulletin readers will continue to be kept up to date on any new visa bulletin developments.

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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.