December 2021 Visa Bulletin Check-In

For many years, Charles Oppenheim, the U.S. Department of State (DOS) Chief of the Visa Control and Reporting Division, has been providing monthly visa bulletin explanations and predictions. He is scheduled to retire in December 2021, but he did make the time to provide some insights following the release of the December 2021 Visa Bulletin.

Effect of USCIS and DOS Case Processing on EB2 and EB3 India

The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has been processing a significant number of I-485 applications. Similarly, the DOS has been approving far more immigrant visas than anticipated. Should this trend continue, this could result in the government issuing close to the full annual limit on visa numbers in many employment-based categories.

This is good news in many respects, but there is a downside. The processing of so many green cards could result in fewer unused immigrant visa numbers falling into the oversubscribed employment-based categories. This, along with the possibility of large numbers of EB3-to-EB2 “upgrade” filings by Indian nationals eventually could result in retrogression for EB2 India. There is less of an issue for EB3 India, as that category has already retrogressed significantly.

Mr. Oppenheim notes that one reason he moved the cutoff date for EB2 India forward so aggressively in the December 2021 Visa Bulletin was to test how much demand there would be for upgrade filings. The pace of forward movement for EB2 India likely will decrease in the near future in order to give Mr. Oppenheim’s replacement sufficient time to see how many upgrade cases are submitted to the USCIS. Based on that data, his replacement will be able to determine how to adjust the EB2 India cutoff date for the second half of the fiscal year.

EB3 Other Workers China

The cutoff date for EB3 China has long been significantly ahead of its India counterpart in the EB3 other workers category. In the December 2021 Visa Bulletin, however, EB3 other workers China narrowed the gap from 8 years to 6 years. Mr. Oppenheim says the gap likely will continue to narrow. Additionally, it is possible that the gap eventually may be eliminated completely.

EB4 Category

The EB4 category is current for all countries of chargeability except El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Mexico. Mr. Oppenheim says that, later this fiscal year, there is a possibility that a cutoff date will need to be set in the EB4 category for all countries of chargeability.

Family-Based, Second Preference “A” (FB2A) Category

The FB2A category, which is for spouses and minor children of lawful permanent residents, has been current through most of the COVID-19 pandemic. Given the high demand in this category, however, it is possible a cutoff date may be imposed sometime during the fiscal year, first for Mexico, and then for all other countries of chargeability. Fortunately, if this happens, it is likely that the cutoff date will be close to the calendar date.


We at the Murthy Law Firm appreciate that Mr. Oppenheim took the time to provide one last update before his retirement. We thank him for his years of service, and look forward to hearing from his replacement.


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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.