Overview of October 2016 Visa Bulletin

Last week, the U.S. Department of State (DOS) issued the October 2016 Visa Bulletin, which is the first visa bulletin of fiscal year 2017 (FY17). In the final action (FA) chart, the most significant movements are in the employment-based, second preference (EB2) category. The cutoff date for China in the employment-based, third preference (EB3) category also sees considerable advancement. The latest visa bulletin also provides some predictions for cutoff date movement in the coming months.

Visa Bulletin Summary

Employment-Based, First Preferences (EB1)

As expected, this category returns to being current for all countries of chargeability.

Employment-Based, Second Preference (EB2)

Both EB2 India and EB2 China advance by around two years, resulting in new cutoff dates of January 15, 2007 for India and February 15, 2012 for China. All other countries of chargeability return to current status, as of October 1, 2016.

Looking ahead, the cutoff date for EB2 India in the near future is expected to advance by up to four months per month. Meanwhile, EB2 China’s cutoff date may move ahead by up to three months per month.

Employment-Based, Third Preference (EB3)

EB3 India inches forward by only a couple of weeks, to March 1, 2005. The cutoff date for EB3 China, on the other hand, jumps ahead by more than three years, to January 22, 2013. This means that EB3 China is, once again, in the unusual position of being more favorable than EB2 China. EB3 for the Philippines advances by five months, to December 1, 2010.

Predictions for EB3 movement in the coming months is quite disappointing, for both India and the Philippines. EB3 India is only expected to move by up to one week per month, while the Philippines may see movement of up to three weeks per month. EB3 China may fare a bit better, with forward movement of up to three months per month.

Employment-Based, Third Preference (EB3) Other Workers

With the exception of China, the cutoff dates for EB3 other workers continue to match the general EB3 cutoff dates. Even through EB3 other workers for China moves ahead by one year, it still continues to lag far behind, with a new cutoff date of January 1, 2005.

Employment-Based Fourth Preference (EB4)

The EB4 category returns to being current for all countries of chargeability in the October 2016 Visa Bulletin.

Employment-Based Fifth Preference (EB5)

EB5 for non-regional center cases remains current for all countries of chargeability except China. The cutoff date for EB5 China for non-regional center cases moves up by only one week, to February 22, 2014. In the coming months, this category for China is expected to experience “slow forward movement,” while remaining current for all other countries.

EB5 for regional centers is set as unavailable in the October 2016 Visa Bulletin. The reason for this is that the regional center portion of the EB5 program is set to “sunset” (i.e. expire), effective October 1, 2016. Congress is expected to renew the program prior to the sunset date; but, because this was not done before issuance of the new visa bulletin, the DOS was forced to list it as unavailable for the month of October.

Unusual Movement in Dates for Filing (DF) Chart

Since the dual-chart visa bulletin system was unveiled in October 2015, the cutoff dates in the DF chart for the heavily backlogged employment-based categories have remained mostly stagnant. In the October 2016 Visa Bulletin, however, EB2 India, EB2 China, and EB3 China all see some retrogression in the DF chart. EB2 India moves backwards by about 9 weeks, to April 22, 2009. EB2 China falls back by three months, to March 1, 2013. And EB3 China retrogresses by a full year, to May 1, 2014. Meanwhile, EB3 India remains frozen at July 1, 2005 in the DF chart.

As explained in the MurthyDotCom NewsBrief, Providing Clarity on the Visa Bulletin Dual Chart System (26.Aug.2016), the cutoff dates in the DF chart can only be used as a basis for filing an adjustment-of-status application (form I-485) if the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) authorizes its use for that particular month. And, not since November 2015 has the USCIS permitted this for EB cases. However, this past spring, the USCIS indicated that it would consider allowing the DF chart to be used for EB cases in FY17. It is unclear whether this retrogression in the DF chart is at all tied to this earlier statement by the USCIS, and, as of the date of this writing, the USCIS has not announced whether use of the DF chart will be permitted in October. Once this information is provided by the USCIS, an update will be posted on MurthyDotCom.


The start of a new fiscal year carries with it a new supply of visa numbers. How much of an impact this ultimately will have on the heavily oversubscribed categories, however, remains to be seen. Subscribe to the free MurthyBulletin for future updates on this and other matters related to immigration law.


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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.