April 2018 Visa Bulletin Check-In: Cause of Relatively Quick Priority Date Movements

Most months, the U.S. Department of State (DOS) Chief of the Visa Control and Reporting Division, Charles Oppenheim, provides visa bulletin explanations and predictions. For the April 2018 Visa Bulletin, Mr. Oppenheim explains the relatively large movement of cutoff dates in several oversubscribed employment-based categories. He also provides some general predictions for expected movement in the coming months.

Cutoff Date Movement Intended to Maximize Use of Available Visa Numbers

Each fiscal year, which runs from October 1st through September 30th, there are a set number of immigrant visas available. These visa numbers are further divided between the various immigrant visa categories, with an additional per-country limit within each category. This is why, for example, in the employment-based, third preference (EB3) category, India and China have severe backlogs, while the category is current for most other countries. If the visa numbers in any particular category, or for any country in a particular category, go unused, there is a system in place for those visa numbers to filter over to other categories.

Mr. Oppenheim explains that the fairly dramatic forward movement, such as in the EB3 category for India, was implemented to ensure sufficient demand exists to maximize the use of available visa numbers before the end of fiscal year 2018 (FY18). This movement was also applied to increase visibility in demand for these categories. Having a larger number of pending adjustment-of-status applications (form I-485) makes it easier for Mr. Oppenheim to accurately predict when and how far to move cutoff dates.

Mr. Oppenheim also notes that the change in policy to have I-485 applications adjudicated by local field offices has negatively impacted visibility. This uncertainty could lead to eventual retrogression in some of the oversubscribed categories during the next fiscal year, such as in the employment-based, second preference (EB2) category for China. However, once the transition to the local field offices is complete, the expectation is that cutoff date movements will stabilize.

Cutoff Date in Employment Based, First Preference (EB1) Category for India and China

The April 2018 Visa Bulletin includes a cutoff date of January 1, 2012 for India and China in the EB1 category. Previously, it was not expected that a cutoff date would be implemented this early in the fiscal year. Mr. Oppenheim explains that this was necessary because EB1 for India and China have experienced heightened demand and many pending cases were adjudicated more quickly than anticipated. It is possible, however, that these cutoff dates may be able to move forward sometime this summer.

Interaction Between EB2 India and EB3 India

Mr. Oppenheim explains that he has good visibility into the pending demand in the EB2 India category. Due to the uncertainty of how many EB3-to-EB2 “upgrade” cases may materialize, however, this category likely will hold steady at times, and then move forward slowly. That being said, Mr. Oppenheim notes that there may be fewer upgrade cases because the EB3 India cutoff date is now nearly caught up with the EB2 India category.

Mr. Oppenheim expects the EB2 India category to reach an early-2009 cutoff date before the end of FY18. As for EB3 India, for May 2018, it is unclear whether any further advancement will be possible.


MurthyDotCom will continue to closely monitor and report on movement and predictions related to the monthly visa bulletin. Subscribe to the MurthyBulletin to receive future updates.


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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.