August 2019 Visa Bulletin Check-In

Most months, Charles Oppenheim, the U.S. Department of State (DOS) Chief of the Visa Control and Reporting Division, provides visa bulletin explanations and predictions. Following the release of the August 2019 Visa Bulletin, Mr. Oppenheim discussed some of the higher-than-normal demand in various categories, and the impact this may have. All dates mentioned refer to the final action (FA) chart, unless otherwise indicated.

Employment-Based, First Preference (EB1) India Unavailable for Rest of Fiscal Year

In the visa bulletins for both July and August 2019, EB1 India has a cutoff date of January 1, 2015. Due to a recent spike in usage, however, Mr. Oppenheim revealed that the annual limit of EB1 India visa numbers has already been allocated, making this category unavailable. This means that no additional green cards in the EB1 category for India will be issued before October 1, 2019, which is the start of fiscal year 2020 (FY20).

It is still possible for an Indian applicant to file an application to adjust status (form I-485) based on an EB1 I-140 with a priority date that is earlier than January 1, 2015. But, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) cannot actually approve any more of these applications before the start of FY20.

Employment-Based, Third Preference (EB3) Category Being Processed Based on August Cutoff Dates

In the July 2019 Visa Bulletin, the EB3 category is current for all countries of chargeability, except for China and India. In the August 2019 Visa Bulletin, this category retrogresses severely, imposing a January 1, 2006 cutoff date for India, and a July 1, 2016 cutoff date for all other countries.

Because of a steep increase in demand, for the remainder of July, the USCIS is processing EB3 cases based on the August 2019 Visa Bulletin cutoff dates. That is to say, through July 31, 2019, stakeholders may continue to file I-485 applications for EB3 cases based on the July 2019 Visa Bulletin cutoff dates, but the USCIS will not approve an EB3 I-485 application in July unless the case has a priority date that is earlier than the date listed in the August 2019 Visa Bulletin. Similarly, for EB3 I-140s filed for consular processing, immigrant visas will be issued in July only based on the August cutoff dates.

Heavy Use of EB1, EB2, and EB3

Typically, near the end of each fiscal year, cutoff dates for some of the employment-based categories retrogress. Historically, these categories then return to the pre-retrogression dates once the new fiscal year starts in October. This year, however, the increased demand means that relief from the retrogression may take longer than normal. At this point, the only indication provided by Mr. Oppenheim regarding this recovery is “every effort will be made to return these final action dates to those which applied for [the July 2019 Visa Bulletin].”

Employment-Based, Fourth Preference (EB4) Predictions

It is possible the EB4 cutoff date for El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras may advance a bit before the end of the fiscal year. This category is expected to remain current for all other countries of chargeability.

Employment-Based, Fifth Preference (EB5) Category to Remain Retrogressed for India and Vietnam

Contrary to rumors spreading online, EB5 for neither India nor Vietnam will return to being current in the October 2019 Visa Bulletin. An EB5 cutoff date will remain in place for these two countries for the foreseeable future.

Family-Based, Second Preference “A” (FB2A) to Remain Current Until Demand Increases

The FB2A category, which is for spouses and children of U.S. permanent residents, will likely remain current for the rest of the current fiscal year. Once demand begins to rise, however, Mr. Oppenheim expects to impose a 2017 or 2018 cutoff date.


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.