Analysis, Predictions, and Trends on February 2015 Visa Bulletin

Each month, Charles Oppenheim, the Chief of the Visa Control and Reporting Division at the U.S. Department of State (DOS), provides visa bulletin insights and explanations. The most notable prediction this month is the expected movement for the employment-based, second preference (EB2) category for India for fiscal year 2015 (FY15).

Unexpected Impact of Executive Action

The DOS previously indicated that the President’s executive actions, announced in November 2014, were not expected to impact visa bulletin cutoff dates. As noted in the MurthyDotCom NewsBrief, Analysis, Predictions, and Trends: January 2015 Visa Bulletin Update (24.Dec.2014), the President’s proposed pre-registration concept for filing I-485s (even when the priority dates are not current) bypasses the need for a current priority date and visa number. Hence, the visa bulletin should not be directly impacted.

Now, however, the DOS is indicating that the executive actions may indirectly affect visa bulletin cutoff dates. The DOS sets these dates with the objective of assuring that all visa numbers are utilized by the end of the particular fiscal year (FY), which runs from October 1 through September 30 of the following calendar year. Since the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will have additional demands on its resources, the DOS believes it may be necessary to start cutoff date advancement earlier in FY15. Essentially, the DOS is working to ensure that the USCIS has enough time to process a sufficient number of cases to deplete the annual visa allocation.

EB2 India: Advancement to Accelerate, but Stall in Summer 2009

Last month, the DOS indicated that it might be able to move the EB2 India cutoff date earlier than the previously expected time frame of June or July 2015. The DOS was indeed able to initiate this advancement in the February 2015 Visa Bulletin. The movement forward of seven months, while quite welcome, still results in a highly retrogressed cutoff date of September 1, 2005 for those born in India.

The DOS predicts that the EB2 India cutoff date will move forward by at least four to six months in March and April 2015. More significant advances are expected by May. However, the DOS notes that the cutoff date movement through the end of the FY may be less dramatic than in prior years. This is, in part, due to ‘upgrading’ from the employment-based, third preference (EB3) to EB2. At this time, the DOS believes that EB2 India will ultimately only advance to a summer 2009 cutoff date by the end of FY15.

EB2 and EB3 China Downgrade

As of the February 2015 Visa Bulletin, the EB3 China cutoff date is well ahead of the EB2 China date. This phenomenon generates requests to ‘downgrade’ from EB2 to EB3, in a reverse of the situation experienced within the EB2 India category.

At this time, the DOS predicts that EB2 China will progress by approximately three to six weeks per month in the coming months. The EB3 China advancement will continue at a much more rapid pace. The DOS projects the potential for the EB3 China date to hit a 2012 date or even beyond. Predictions in this category are difficult, due to the inability of the DOS to see the downgrade cases until a visa number is requested. This same complication exists with EB2 India upgrades.

Employment-Based, Fifth Preference (EB5) China

The DOS continues to anticipate the need to establish a cutoff date in the EB5 category for China. The DOS expresses certainty that the cutoff date will be established by the summer of 2015 or earlier.


The transparency provided by the DOS, and Mr. Oppenheim in particular, is appreciated, even if the actual news is not all positive. To remain informed on the latest developments on cutoff date movements and other immigration law issues, subscribe to the free MurthyBulletin.


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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.