February 2016 Visa Bulletin: Insights and Predictions

The U.S. Department of State (DOS) provides visa bulletin insights each month through Charles Oppenheim, Chief of the Visa Control and Reporting Division. The information from Mr. Oppenheim for February, which was released later than usual, includes a discussion about the DOS visa applicant wait list, as well as advancement in the employment-based, second preference (EB2) category for India.

India: Employment-Based, Second Preference (EB2)

Forward movement in the EB2 India final action (FA) cutoff date in the February 2016 Visa Bulletin exceeded the predictions previously provided by the DOS. This cutoff date for February is August 1, 2008. The DOS reports lower demand in this category than anticipated, which allowed for the forward movement. The DOS is also advancing cutoff dates earlier in the fiscal year than had been the practice in the past.

The DOS believes that the lower-than-expected EB2 demand may be the result of fewer EB3-to-EB2 “upgrade” cases. It may also be that prior cutoff date advancement was sufficient to allow the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) to approve many of the older cases in this category. The DOS expects that demand in this category will increase as the dates advance. This, in turn, would unfortunately slow forward movement in the EB2 India category.

Worldwide: Employment-Based, Second Preference (EB2)

The EB2 worldwide category is, as expected, current. The DOS reports that demand for visa numbers in this category is somewhat lower than is typical. The DOS believes that this, too, may be the result of fewer EB3-to-EB2 upgrade cases.

China: Employment-Based, Second and Third Preferences (EB2 and EB3)

The FA cutoff date in EB2 for China is less favorable than the cutoff date for EB3 China. The DOS expects this situation to continue, for the time being. However, there continues to be a number of EB2-to-EB3 China “downgrade” cases, which is slowly rebalancing demand between the two categories. Cutoff dates for both EB2 and EB3 China are expected to advance in March.


The DOS may revise some of the cutoff dates in the dates for filing (DF) chart in the March 2016 Visa Bulletin. This is expected to primarily be in the family-based categories.

Visa Waiting List

As indicated last month, the February 2016 Visa Bulletin provides data on the pending immigrant visa applicants with cases at the National Visa Center (NVC). This NVC waitlist data is limited to cases that were filed for consular processing; it does not include applications for adjustment of status (form I-485), which is how most employment-based cases are filed.


The Murthy Law Firm appreciates the insights and predictions provided by Mr. Oppenheim. As soon as the March 2016 Visa Bulletin is released – which will likely be within the next week – an update will be posted on MurthyDotComSubscribe to the free MurthyBulletin to receive weekly notifications of all immigration news, including updates related to the monthly visa bulletin.


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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.