Visa Bulletin Predictions for Coming Months08 Oct 2014
On October 1, 2014, the Chief of the Immigrant Visa Control and Reporting Division, U.S. Department of State (DOS), Charles Oppenheim, provided explanations and predictions related to employment-based categories for visa bulletin developments expected during the next few months of fiscal year 2015 (FY15). This information was provided at a recent meeting of the American Immigration Lawyers Association, attended by several Murthy Law Firm attorneys.
Employment-Based, Second Preference (EB2) Worldwide
The EB2 category for worldwide, or rest of the world (ROW), is expected to remain current. The projections provided by the DOS only addressed the next three to four months; however, this category historically has remained current.
The DOS continues to observe the results of “upgrading” within the EB2 ROW category by individuals with older priority dates initially granted in the employment-based, third preference (EB3) category. The DOS reports usage of 1,500 to 2,000 visa numbers per month in EB2 ROW from such upgrade cases. While this is not enough of a demand to require a cutoff date, it impacts the availability of excess visa numbers in this category, which would otherwise be made available to EB2 cases from the oversubscribed countries, India and China.
The DOS expects to retrogress the EB2 India category in either November or December. The retrogression is expected to go as far back as early 2005. Once such retrogression occurs, the DOS expects that the EB2 India cutoff date will not advance until approximately June 2015. This is because, even with such extreme retrogression, the DOS expects to continue to see high demand in this category. Even when the cutoff dates retrogressed last year to a 2004 date, the DOS still used approximately 3,000 EB2 visa numbers. This is due to demand from EB3 “upgrade” cases from Indian nationals with earlier priority dates.
The end of the fiscal year is when visa numbers from other categories, which would otherwise not be utilized, can be made available to this category. This is why advancement in June 2015 may be possible. The DOS reports that, for fiscal year 2014 (FY14), approximately 15,000 to 17,000 “extra” numbers were made available to EB2 India. The amount of such excess numbers potentially available towards the end of FY15 depends upon usage and demand levels in the other categories during the fiscal year.
Over the next three to four months, the EB2 China category is expected to advance by approximately three to five weeks each month. This prediction could change, as the demand depends upon the volume of “upgrade” cases from EB3. If the demand increases, the advancement of the EB2 date will slow.
The EB3 ROW category has been advancing rapidly in recent months. The reason for this, as explained by Chief Oppenheim, is that the pending demand for visa numbers in this category has been met. The DOS has been able to provide immigrant visa numbers for these pending I-485 adjustment of status cases, filed in the summer of 2007 (when all the categories were current.) With the completion of the 2007 cases, the DOS needed to create greater demand for immigrant visa numbers in the EB3 ROW category. This can be achieved by advancing the cutoff date until such demand materializes. The DOS expects to continue the forward movement of the EB3 ROW cutoff date in upcoming months.
China’s EB3 cutoff date is also quite favorable, although it is no longer more favorable than the EB2 China cutoff date, as had been the case previously. Chief Oppenheim expects to be able to continue moving this category forward rapidly in the next few months.
Unfortunately, as expected, the situation for EB3 India is quite different. This category is extremely backlogged with the DOS reporting 25,000 to 30,000 pending immigrant visa requests in the EB3 India queue. This is primarily because of the I-485 filings made in 2007. (This does not include all the EB3 India cases that have not yet made it to the I-485 stage.) As a result of this extraordinarily high demand, the cutoff date in this category is expected to advance by only one to two weeks per month over the next several months.
Employment-Based, Fourth Preference (EB4)
The EB4 category is for “special immigrants,” and includes the category of Special Immigrant Juveniles, as well as religious workers. This category is experiencing increased demand. As a result, the DOS expects to establish a cutoff date for EB4 toward the end of FY15 or possibly even fiscal year 2016.
Employment-Based, Fifth Preference (EB5)
The demand for EB5 during FY14 was sufficient for this category to hit its limit of 10,000 for the first time. The majority of the demand within the EB5, immigrant investor category, is from Chinese nationals.
The Murthy Law Firm appreciates the insights and predictions provided by Chief Oppenheim. Such information helps the public understand visa bulletin developments and take such considerations into account in making long-term immigration plans.
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