January 2017 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 visa bulletin explanations nearly every month. This month’s update regarding the January 2017 Visa Bulletin provides insights and predictions related to most of the employment-based immigrant visa categories. 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 expects that a priority date will be implemented for China and India in this category at some point during the current fiscal year, which runs through September 30, 2017.

Employment-Based, Second Preference (EB2)

There is strong demand in the EB2 category, so a cutoff date likely will be implemented at some point for all countries of chargeability. Mr. Oppenheim says that the quarterly limit on EB2 China numbers has already been reached, so the cutoff date is not likely to advance much in the near future. As for EB2 India, he still hopes that the cutoff date will return to November 22, 2008 before the end of the fiscal year. However, due to the large number of ‘upgrades’ from EB3 India, it is unclear whether this will be possible.

Employment-Based, Third Preference (EB3)

Due to the possibility of cutoff dates being imposed on the EB2 worldwide category, it is possible that this could lead to EB2-to-EB3 ‘downgrade’ cases, akin to what has happened in recent years with China. No other predictions were provided for the EB3 category.

Employment-Based, Fourth Preference (EB4)

The EB4 category has seen tremendous demand from Mexico, El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras. EB4 India has also seen large demand, having used more than 40 percent of its annual limit. If this trend continues, a cutoff date may be imposed on EB4 India.

Employment-Based, Fifth Preference (EB5)

Mr. Oppenheim expects the cutoff date for EB5 China to continue advancing a few weeks per month. One interesting note about the EB5 category: While China continues to dominate usage of this program, the total percentage of cases filed by Chinese applicants dropped from 80 percent to 75 percent. This indicates that interest in the program is expanding to other countries.

Family-Based, Fourth Preference (FB4)

The only update for family-based cases is for the FB4 category, which is reserved for siblings of U.S. citizens. Mr. Oppenheim notes that FB4 Mexico, which has a cutoff date of May 15, 1997, will likely advance by about two weeks per month. FB4 India and FB4 China, which have cutoff dates of May 15, 2003 and November 22, 2003, respectively, are expected to continue advancing at a steady pace.


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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.