Updated I-485 Pending Inventory: January 201526 Feb 2015
The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has released the quarterly charts that detail the numbers of pending employment-based (EB) adjustment of status applications (I-485 form). These charts reflect the breakdown of pending I-485 cases by country of chargeability, EB category, and priority date month and year.
USCIS I-485 Charts for January 2015
The most recent quarterly chart, which is updated through January 12, 2015, is available on the USCIS WebSite. The previous chart, which was dated October 3, 2014, revealed dramatic reductions in the volume of employment-based, second preference (EB2) India pending I-485s, as advancement in the U.S. Department of State (DOS) visa bulletin cutoff dates allowed for approval of many of the pending I-485 cases in this category.
EB2 India Pending Volume
The pending EB2 India caseload shown in the January 2015 charts is very similar to the levels that appeared in October 2014. The overall number of pending I-485s in this category increased by approximately 800 cases: to just over 21,000. Since the prior inventory was issued at the start of October, some of the increase is due to continued case filings through the end of that month.
The biggest increase is in cases with 2007 priority dates, which is likely due to what is known as upgrading from the employment-based, third preference (EB3) category to EB2, while retaining the old EB3 priority date. Of course, the shifting in case numbers has to be taken in context, as when the cutoff dates allow filings, approvals are also possible. So, cases flow both ways.
The volume of cases by year and month of the priority date helps to explain the movement of cutoff dates in the visa bulletin. The DOS moved the cutoff date to January 1, 2007 for the month of March 2015. The volume of cases pending with cutoff dates prior to January 1, 2007 is slightly above 1,000. There are about 5,000 cases with 2007 and 2008 priority dates, and over 10,000 cases pending with 2009 priority dates. The ability to move through these later dates will greatly depend upon the number of excess immigrant visa numbers from the other categories that roll into the EB2 India category toward the end of the fiscal year.
EB3 India: Approvals and Upgrades
In the past quarter, the EB3 India cutoff dates have advanced by only one month – from November 15, to December 15, 2003. Overall, the volume of pending cases in this category with 2003 priority dates was reduced by about half, to just over 1,200. There are slight reductions in cases with later priority dates for each year, from 2004 to 2007, presumably due to upgrades to EB2. There is also an increase in cases with 2002 priority dates for no clear reason.
EB2 and EB3 China Downgrading
The situation for EB2 and EB3 China is rather unique, in that the cutoff dates are more favorable in EB3 than EB2 China at this time. This causes what is known as downgrading, when applicants seek to change from EB2 to EB3. The pending I-485 charts reflect that the volume of EB2 China cases is actually less than the volume of EB3 cases by about 500. The EB3 cases, however, include priority dates through August 2012, whereas the EB2 cases end with April 2010. This is all due to cutoff date movements, which control when an I-485 can be filed.
EB3 Rest of the World
EB3 for all countries of chargeability, other than Indian and China, has been advancing rapidly over the past quarter. The cutoff date in the March 2015 Visa Bulletin is January 1, 2014. A result of this advancement, and the reason for the ability to continue such advancement, can be seen in the pending I-485 inventory for this category. The chart reflects a total of only 8,000 pending cases in this category, most of which have 2012 and 2013 priority dates.
The pending I-485 inventory charts are extremely helpful when trying to understand the movement of cutoff dates in the monthly DOS visa bulletin. Such movement is all a function of supply and demand, and the pending inventory charts contain the details of the volume of demand.
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