April 2016 Visa Bulletin Official Insights and Predictions

The U.S. Department of State (DOS) provides visa bulletin clarifications on a monthly basis through Charles Oppenheim, Chief of the Visa Control and Reporting Division. The information from Mr. Oppenheim regarding the April 2016 Visa Bulletin explains some of the reasons for the very limited cutoff date advancement in the employment-based, second preference (EB2) category for India and China.

Visa Number Demand Visibility Problems

The movement of visa bulletin cutoff dates is a function of supply and demand. The ability of the DOS to determine upcoming visa number demand by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is quite limited. That is to say, the DOS only has direct information regarding demand once the USCIS finishes review of the I-485 form and makes a visa number request. The DOS receives anticipated demand information from the USCIS, but if these estimates prove to be inaccurate, the corresponding estimates for visa number availability will be flawed, as well.

As an example, the USCIS advised that 400 EB2 India I-485 applicants would be eligible for approval based upon the February 2016 Visa Bulletin. However, the DOS reports that, by the end of February 2016, the USCIS had actually requested 700 numbers for EB2 India cases that were current in February.

The DOS faces difficulties in assessing whether unexpected spikes in demand reflect an actual increase in cases in the particular category, or simply higher levels of case processing by USCIS. The visa bulletin dates for filing (DF) chart was intended to help provide some of this needed transparency.

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

The EB2 India final action (FA) cutoff date in the April 2016 Visa Bulletin is November 8, 2008. This represents advancement of less than one month. The agency had predicted up to three months of movement per month for this category. The DOS now indicates that the advancement in upcoming months may be “…slower than originally expected due to increasing demand in this category which can be attributed to upgrades from EB3 India.” Additionally, the DOS reports that the demand in the employment-based, first preference (EB1) worldwide category is “steady.” This draws into question how many extra numbers ultimately may be available to fall down from EB1 to EB2.

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

The DOS had predicted up to five months of forward movement in EB2 and EB3 China. The advancement in these categories in April is far less than the maximum, with EB2 China advancing by a month and EB3 China advancing by one-and-a-half months. This is simply the result of demand in these categories.


The information and insights provided by Mr. Oppenheim are appreciated. MurthyDotCom will continue to post visa bulletin updates whenever new, reliable 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.