March 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), provides visa bulletin explanations and predictions almost every month. The update this month for the March 2017 Visa Bulletin provides predictions related to most employment-based categories, as well as some information on family-based cases. All of the information provided this month relates to the final action (FA) charts.

March 2017 Visa Bulletin Explanations & Predictions

Employment-Based, First Preference (EB1)

The EB1 category is current for all countries of chargeability. Previously, Mr. Oppenheim cautioned that a cutoff date would be necessary for EB1 China and India in the near future. There has since been a bit of a decrease in EB1 filings, though, so imposing a cutoff date in EB1 for these two countries now may not be necessary until August.

Employment-Based, Second Preference (EB2) India

EB2 India advances by two months in the March 2017 Visa Bulletin, to June 1, 2008. Mr. Oppenheim took a leap of faith in providing this modest advance, largely based on a slight decrease in EB3-to-EB2 “upgrade” filings. The hope is that this category will continue to advance by about 4-weeks per month. However, if there is a spike in “upgrade” filings, it could cause EB2 India to stagnate.

Employment-Based, Third Preference (EB3) India

Unfortunately, this category is expected to move slowly, if at all, for the foreseeable future.

EB2 and EB3 China

The cutoff date for EB3 China is now 15 months ahead of EB2 China. In anticipation of a potential increase in EB2-to-EB3 “downgrade” cases from China, Mr. Oppenheim has built up a small reserve of EB3 China visa numbers.

Employment-Based, Fourth Preference (EB4)

There continues to be high demand in the EB4 category for Mexico, El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras. It remains to be seen whether any advancement will be possible this year for these countries.

Employment-Based, Fifth Preference (EB5)

Mr. Oppenheim expects the cutoff date for EB5 China to continue advancing about 1-to-2 weeks per month. EB5 is expected to remain current for all other countries of chargeability.

Family-Based Preference Categories

In the April 2017 Visa Bulletin, there may be “[a]ggressive forward movement in some of the family-based preference categories.” In particular, the family-based, first preference category (for the unmarried children, ages twenty-one and up, of U.S. citizens) has seen far fewer filings this year than expected. So, this category is likely to keep moving by several months each month for all countries, other than Mexico and the Philippines.


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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.