EB4 Limits Reached for El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras

The annual limits for the employment-based, fourth preference (EB4) category have been reached for applicants born in El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras. This development is reflected in the establishment of a cutoff date in the May 2016 Visa Bulletin issued by the U.S. Department of State (DOS) earlier this month.

EB4 Includes Special Immigrant Juveniles

The EB4 category is reserved for a diverse group of “special immigrants,” including religious workers, broadcasters, and translators with the U.S. armed forces. The EB4 category also includes “special immigrant juveniles” (SIJs). These are children who have received juvenile or family court orders making them court dependents or placing them with other agencies or non-parental guardians. To qualify, a court must further determine that it is not in the child’s interest to return to his/her home country or be reunited with a parent due to abuse, neglect, or related reason.

The increase of such cases filed on behalf of children from Central American countries has resulted in depletion of the current fiscal year’s statutory limits of EB4 for those born in El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras. Effective May 1, 2016, the EB4 cutoff date for people born in these three countries will be January 1, 2010.

Impact on Ability to File EB4 Cases

The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will continue to accept immigrant petitions filed for EB4 cases (form I-360). However, corresponding applications for adjustment of status (form I-485) filed by people from El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras will not be approved for the remainder of the fiscal year. And, effective May 1st, new I-485 applications for these cases will only be accepted by those with priority dates of December 31, 2009 or earlier.

Impact of EB4 Backlogs on Other Applicants

The DOS notes, “It is extremely likely that [EB4 India and Mexico] will also become oversubscribed at some point during the summer months.” The influx of EB4 cases may also have an indirect impact on the employment-based, second preference (EB2) category for those born in India or China. This is because any excess EB4 numbers would normally flow to the oversubscribed EB2 categories.


This stands as another example of how worldwide events can impact demand for immigrant visa numbers, and highlights just how unpredictable the movement of cutoff dates in the monthly visa bulletin can be. MurthyDotCom will continue to closely track these developments and post updates as new 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.