May Visa Bulletin: Department of State Explanations

Each month, the U.S. Department of State (DOS) provides a visa bulletin check-in with Charles Oppenheim, Chief of the Visa Control and Reporting Division. This month, Mr. Oppenheim explains key developments in the May 2016 Visa Bulletin, and also provides some predictions for cutoff date movement through the rest of fiscal year 2016 (FY16), which ends September 30, 2016.

Employment-Based, First Preference (EB1)

Demand for EB1 visa numbers almost doubled between February and March 2016. As a result, there may be fewer excess numbers to spill down to the employment-based, second preference (EB2) category. The volume of numbers available for this fall down plays a key role in the movement of the EB2 India and EB2 China cutoff dates.

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


In May, the final action (FA) cutoff date for EB2 India advances very slightly, to November 22, 2008. EB3 India also inches forward, to September 1, 2004. The DOS faces difficulties in predicting cutoff date movement in these categories, as supply and demand levels are subject to uncertainty.

Visa number supply in EB2 can be unclear, as it is largely a function of the availability of excess numbers from other categories. Thus, the high demand in the EB1 category, as explained above, reduces the anticipated visa number supply potentially available in EB2 and, in turn, limits the EB2 cutoff date movement. Demand can also be difficult to track, due to the heavy use of the EB3 to EB2 “upgrade” strategy. The DOS does not have access to the visa number demand from EB2 upgrade cases, until the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) completes the case processing and requests a visa number. When this occurs, the USICS simultaneously cancels the request for the EB3 visa number for the same case. This generates unexpected changes in visa number demand and, ultimately, is reflected in cutoff date shifts.


The DOS expects EB2 to remain current for the Philippines. The EB3 cutoff date in the FA chart for the Philippines advances by several months in May, to a new cutoff date of August 8, 2008. This cutoff date is expected to continue advancing a few months at a time. By the end of FY16, the DOS predicts that EB3 for the Philippines may reach a mid-2010 cutoff date.


The DOS reports that demand for visa numbers in EB3 China has exploded. This was anticipated, as the result of requests to “downgrade” from EB2 China. The overall demand in both EB2 and EB3 China makes it likely that the cutoff dates may have to be retrogressed in June.

New Cutoff Date in Employment-Based, Fourth Preference (EB4)

High demand in the EB4 category made it necessary for the DOS to establish a cutoff date for cases chargeable to El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras. This development is due to an increase in special immigrant juvenile (SIJ) applications. The DOS does not anticipate advancement in these backlogged categories during the remainder of FY16.

Employment-Based, Fifth Preference (EB5)

The demand for EB5 China continues to increase. However, the DOS indicates that the applications are being adjudicated more quickly than in the past. Therefore, the DOS may be able to start slowly advancing the cutoff date in the FA chart.


As always, the information and explanations provided by Mr. Oppenheim are appreciated. Stay tuned to MurthyDotCom for future updates and predictions 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.