November 2016 Visa Bulletin Check-In: Explanations and Predictions

Charles Oppenheim, Chief of the Visa Control and Reporting Division for the U.S. Department of State (DOS), supplies monthly visa bulletin explanations. This month’s update related to the November 2016 Visa Bulletin includes insights into the employment-based, second preference category for India and China, as well as the employment-based, third preference (EB3) category for China and the Philippines. All information from Mr. Oppenheim this month pertains to the final action (FA) chart.

Employment-Based, First Preference (EB1)

The EB1 category is current for all countries of chargeability. Mr. Oppenheim indicates that, although this category is seeing high demand, no retrogression should be expected for the first half of fiscal year 2017 (FY17), which began October 1, 2016.

Employment-Based, Second Preference (EB2)

The EB2 category for India and China faced severe retrogression in the June 2016 Visa Bulletin. Prior to this, the cutoff date for EB2 India had advanced as far as November 22, 2008, while EB2 China had been at September 1, 2012. Several months ago, Mr. Oppenheim noted that he expected to return EB2 India and EB2 China to these pre-retrogression dates during FY17.

To that end, last month, Mr. Oppenheim predicted that EB2 India would advance by up to four months per month. In the November 2016 Visa Bulletin, however, this category exceeds expectations, advancing by more than nine months. Mr. Oppenheim explains that this was done because demand was lower than anticipated. He is uncertain as to whether this rapid forward movement will continue, or if it will slow to around the four-months-per-month level previously expected; but, his goal remains to bring EB2 India back to a November 2008 cutoff date by no later than the March 2017 Visa Bulletin.

The cutoff date for EB2 China moves ahead by four months in November. Mr. Oppenheim expects that, by February 2017, EB2 China will return to having a September 2012 cutoff date.

The EB2 worldwide cutoff date is expected to remain current.

Employment-Based, Third Preference (EB3)

The only insights provided regarding the EB3 category is that demand in this category for the Philippines is lower than anticipated, resulting in the cutoff dates advancing relatively quickly. If this continues, Mr. Oppenheim believes the cutoff date may move ahead each month by several months.

Employment-Based, Fourth Preference (EB4)

Mr. Oppenheim expects that demand in this category will remain high for those born in El Salvador, Guatemala, or Honduras. Thus, the cutoff dates will likely move very slowly for these three countries.

Employment-Based, Fifth Preference (EB5)

The EB5 regional center program was extended through December 9, 2016 in order to provide Congress with time to implement a more long-term extension of the program. If, however, this does not occur before the release of the December 2016 Visa Bulletin, this category will be listed as ‘unavailable’ for the month of December.

Family-Based Categories

As Mr. Oppenheim explains, the family-based categories are typically much more stable and predictable than the employment-based categories. The only thing of note for family-based cases concerned the family-based, fourth preference (FB4) category, which is for siblings of U.S. citizens. Mr. Oppenheim notes that there is some fluctuation in demand for China and India in the FB4 category. No further explanation was provided.


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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.