Analysis, Predictions, and Trends: March 2015 Visa Bulletin Update

Each month, the U.S. Department of State (DOS) explains key visa bulletin developments and, when possible, provides predictions for future cutoff date movement. The source of this helpful information is Charles Oppenheim, the Chief of the Visa Control and Reporting Division at the DOS. The most significant March 2015 Visa Bulletin development is the rapid advancement of the cutoff date in the employment-based, second preference (EB2) category for India.

EB2 India: Unexpected Advancement and Prediction of Future Movement

The DOS previously predicted only four-to-six months of advancement for EB2 India, not the 16-month jump to January 1, 2007. It should be noted that the earlier prediction was stated as a minimum prediction of forward movement for EB2 India.

The DOS anticipates further EB2 India advancement in April 2015, but likely not as great as what is in place for March. EB2 India is expected to continue to advance throughout fiscal year 2015 (FY15), but in a steadier fashion, rather than taking a large jump at the end of the fiscal year. As EB2 India advances, it is expected that the volume of employment-based, third preference (EB3) to EB2 “upgrade” requests will increase and create additional demand for visa numbers in the EB2 India category. This level of demand ultimately plays into the cutoff date determinations.

The DOS has advanced the EB2 India cutoff date earlier in FY15 than in past years. This action, as explained by Mr. Oppenheim, is intended to allow case adjudications before certain documents expire (e.g., medical examinations). As previously explained, the DOS expects President Obama’s executive actions will place a greater demand on U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) resources toward the end of the fiscal year. The DOS must advance the dates early enough to allow for utilization of all visa numbers before the end of the fiscal year. Thus, the DOS considers the resources and capacity of the USCIS in its calculations when setting cutoff dates.

Forward Movement for China in EB2 & EB3

The EB2 category for China advances by more than five months in the March 2015 Visa Bulletin. This level of advancement is a nice change from the much slower movement that was occurring in this category for the past two years. The DOS expects such advancement to continue in EB2 China for some time. This is, in part, due to DOS efforts to allow for USCIS case adjudications within the fiscal year, as explained above.

Even with the five-month jump in EB2 China, the EB3 China cutoff date continues to be far more favorable. The DOS expects EB3 China demand to grow with requests to “downgrade” from EB2 to EB3 for Chinese nationals. This could move EB2 China further forward, and slow or reverse advancement in EB3 China. The timing of these changes as yet is uncertain, but the DOS anticipates that it could happen within the next few months.

The demand for visa numbers for China in the family-based categories also has been low. This allows for some family-based numbers to move to the employment-based categories for China. It also plays into the movement of EB3 and EB2 China cutoff dates in upcoming months.

Employment-Based, Fifth Preference (EB5) China

The DOS continues to anticipate the need to establish a cutoff date in the EB5 China category. This is expected by July, if not earlier. The EB5 category is expected to remain current for all other countries.

EB3 Worldwide, Mexico, and the Philippines

The cutoff dates in the EB3 category for worldwide, Mexico, and the Philippines are quite favorable, at June 1, 2014. The DOS advanced these cutoff dates in an effort to generate demand for available visa numbers. The DOS reports unexpectedly low demand in EB3 Philippines, but there is a potential for this to increase, particularly based on demand from cases filed for nurses. If demand increases, changes may be needed.


The early advancement of EB2 India is a welcome development. Of course, even with advancement to January 1, 2007, most EB2 applicants are still left waiting and hoping for further movement in this backlogged category. MurthyDotCom will continue to alert readers to visa bulletin developments and reliable predictions, as information becomes available.


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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.