Oct 2014 Pending I-485 Inventory Shows EB2 India Movement

The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has issued updated quarterly charts, which contain detailed data on pending employment-based adjustment of status applications (I-485s), as of October 3, 2014. The charts set out the pending I-485 caseload by EB category, country, month, and year of priority date. The most remarkable change is a one-third reduction in the number of pending employment-based, second preference (EB2) cases for India between July and October. It is clear that the temporary advancement in EB2 India, led to thousands of green card approvals in this category.

Reduction in Number of Pending EB2 India I-485s

The EB2 India cutoff dates advanced in July 2014, and continued to advance through September, when the date was set to May 1, 2009. This cutoff date remained in place through October 31, 2014, meaning that these charts do not reflect the cases filed or adjudicated through most of October. Still, the charts clearly show that the USCIS was able to adjudicate a great number of EB2 India I-485s, once visa numbers became available. Between July and October 2014, the overall total number of pending EB2 India I-485s decreased by more than one-third, to just over 20,000 cases. This sizable drop is even more remarkable considering that, although many pending cases are approved when cutoff dates advance, this also results in the filing of many new I-485s.

Many of the adjudicated EB2 India cases had 2008 priority dates, with the number of these pending cases being reduced from 10,000 in July 2014, to just under 3,500 by the beginning of October. The cases with priority dates in the early months of 2009 also fared well, with a decrease of more than 3,000 pending cases in this category between July and October 2014. Cases with pre-2008 priority dates also saw reductions, with the volume of such pending EB2 I-485s dipping below 2,000, as of October 2014. Some of these older cases are the result of “upgrades” from prior employment-based, third preference (EB3) category cases with earlier priority dates.

EB3 India Approvals, “Upgrades”

The EB3 India cutoff dates moved forward by only two weeks between July and October 2014. Accordingly, the number of pending EB3 India I-485s with 2003 priority dates only decreased by a few hundred during this time period, from just under 2,900 in July, to just over 2,500 by the start of October. Slight reductions can also be seen in the remaining EB3 India cases with pre-2003 priority dates.

There are other shifts in the pending case volumes within this category that likely reflect either EB3-to-EB2 upgrades, or individuals who obtained green cards in a category other than EB3 India. This can be seen in the reductions in the numbers of cases pending with priority dates that were not current during the timeframe in question. This includes the years 2004, 2005, and 2007. Calendar year 2006 in EB3 is a bit unusual, as the number of pending EB3 India I-485s increased between July and October 2014, even though 2006 priority dates were not current during this time period. The reason for this spike, however, is unclear.

EB2 and EB3 China

China is the other country that experiences backlogs in EB2, albeit to a lesser extent than India. The October 2014 chart shows approximately 3,700 pending EB2 China I-485s, a small fraction compared to the number of EB2 India cases pending. This is why the visa bulletin cutoff date for EB2 China is more favorable than it is for India, and why this category typically does not experience the same level of volatility as it does for India.

EB3 China has slightly fewer pending cases than EB2 China. The interesting phenomenon for this country of chargeability is that, periodically, EB3 will become more favorable than EB2. This results in requests for downgrading until the situation reverses. Although this phenomenon did not occur between July and October 2014, the results can still be seen in the pending charts.

Supply and Demand

For those who are mystified by the movement of the visa bulletin cutoff dates, the pending I-485 charts are quite revealing. It is a matter of supply and demand. For instance, the charts show that the volume of pending EB3 I-485s for all countries combined, other than India, China, Mexico, and the Philippines, is just over 10,000. EB3 India, on the other hand, has nearly three times that amount. Thus, the wait time for EB3 India is far longer than it is for the countries that are not so oversubscribed.


The adjudication of many long-pending cases has now potentially cleared the way for the next group of applicants. Stakeholders will have to wait until later in the fiscal year, however, to discover just how much of an impact this may have on cutoff date movement. For further updates and predictions on the movement of cutoff dates, as well as other immigration law issues, subscribe to the free MurthyBulletin, or check MurthyDotCom regularly.


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