Department of State Releases May 2017 Visa Bulletin

may visa bulletinExpect some retrogression in EB-1 and EB-2 cutoff dates in the coming months.

The US Department of State has released its May 2017 Visa Bulletin setting out per-country priority date cutoffs that regulate immigrant visa availability and the flow of status adjustments and consular immigrant visa application filings and approvals.

What Does the May 2017 Visa Bulletin Say?

The May 2017 Visa Bulletin includes both a Dates for Filing Visa Applications chart and an Application Final Action Dates chart. The former indicates when intending immigrants may file their applications for adjustments of status or immigrant visas, and the latter indicates when adjustment of status applications or immigrant visa applications may be approved and permanent residence granted.

If US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) determines that there are more immigrant visas available for a fiscal year than there are known applicants for such visas, it will state on its website that applicants may use the Dates for Filing Visa Applications chart. Otherwise, applicants should use the Application Final Action Dates chart to determine when they may file their adjustment of status applications.

It is not yet clear which chart USCIS will select for May 2017 filings. To be eligible to file an employment-based (EB) adjustment application in May 2017, a foreign national must have a priority date that is earlier than the date listed below for his or her preference category and country (changes from last month’s Visa Bulletin are shown in yellow).

Application Final Action Dates

EB All Charge-

ability 

Areas Except

Those Listed
China

(mainland 

born)
El Salvador,
Guatemala,
and Honduras
India Mexico Philippines
1st C C C C C C
2nd C 08FEB13 (was 15JAN13) C 22JUN08 C C
3rd 15MAR17 (was 15FEB17) 01OCT14 (was 15AUG14) 15MAR17(was 15FEB17) 25MAR05 (was 24MAR05) 15MAR17(was 15FEB17) 01JAN13(was 15SEP12)
Other Workers 15MAR17 (was 15FEB17) 08MAR06 (was 01MAR06) 15MAR17 (was 15FEB17) 25MAR05 (was 24MAR05 ) 15MAR17 (was 15FEB17) 01JAN13 (was 15SEP12)

Dates for Filing Visa Applications

EB All Charge-

ability 

Areas Except

Those Listed
China

(mainland 

born)
India Mexico Philippines
1st C C C C C
2nd C 01OCT13 (was 01MAR13) 01FEB09 (was 22APR09) C C
3rd C 01SEP15 (was 01MAY14) 22APR06 (was 01JUL05) C 01JUL14 (was 01SEP13)
Other Workers C 01JUN08 (was 01AUG09) 22APR06 (was 01JUL05) C 001JUL14 (was 01SEP13)

On the Application Final Action Dates chart, the cutoff dates for EB-1 will remain “current” for all chargeable countries, including India and China.

The EB-2 cutoff dates for the worldwide allotment as well as for El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, and the Philippines will also remain “current.” Cutoff dates will advance by one month for EB-2 India and by three weeks for EB-2 China.

The EB-3 cutoff dates for the worldwide allotment as well as for El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Mexico will advance by one month to March 15, 2017. The cutoff date for EB-3 China will advance by six weeks to October 1, 2014 and the cutoff date for EB-3 India will advance by one day to March 25, 2005. The cutoff date for EB-3 Philippines will advance by three and a half months to January 1, 2013.

The EB-5 China cutoff date will advance by ten days to June 1, 2014.

On the Dates for Filing chart, the cutoff dates for EB-1 will remain “current” for all chargeable countries, including India and China.

The EB-2 cutoff dates for the worldwide allotment as well as for El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, and the Philippines will also remain “current.” Cutoff dates for EB-2 China will advance by seven months to October 1, 2013. Cutoff dates for EB-2 India will retrogress by three months and three weeks, to February 1, 2009.

Cutoff dates for EB-3 China will advance by 16 months to September 1, 2015, but for “other workers” the cutoff dates will retrogress by 14 months, to June 1, 2008. Cutoff dates for EB-3 India will advance by nine months and three weeks, to April 22, 2006. Finally, cutoff dates for EB-3 Philippines will advance by ten months, to July 1, 2014.

The State Department projected that a Final Action date will be established in the EB-1 category for China and India in the near future. Visa numbers would advance slowly for the remainder of this fiscal year. Additionally, the EB-2 category for the worldwide allotment, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, and the Philippines is expected to retrogress no later than July. It is anticipated that this category will also become current at the start of the FY 2018 in October.

Read the May 2017 Visa Bulletin.

Copyright © 2017 by Morgan, Lewis & Bockius LLP. All Rights Reserved.

March 2017 Visa Bulletin Update

The Department of State’s (DOS) March 2017 Visa Bulletin showed some minor movement in some employment-based categories, with more significant movement in other employment-based visa categories.

The Worldwide EB-1 category remains current for all categories, including individuals born in mainland China, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, India, Mexico, and the Philippines.

The cutoff date for worldwide chargeability in the EB-2 category is current but for mainland China and India.  There was significant movement for mainland China in the EB-2 category which moved from July 15, 2012 to Dec. 15, 2012, and for India, which moved from Nov. 1, 2007 to June 1, 2008.

In the EB-3 category, the cutoff date for worldwide chargeability, as well as El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Mexico moved five months from July 1, 2016 to Dec. 1, 2016.  The cutoff dates for mainland China and the Philippines both had significant movement, with nearly eleven months for both, with China advancing from April 15, 2013 to March 15, 2014, and the Philippines advancing from April 1, 2011 to March 15, 2012.

For those in the EB-5 category, the priority date remains current for all applicants other than those born in mainland China, which moved its cutoff date by almost two months from March 8, 2014 to May 1, 2014.

For those seeking to adjust status, The United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) website indicates that the Department’s Application Final Action Dates chart must be used for filing Form I-485.  This has not yet been updated with the March 2017 dates; however, we anticipate that USCIS will continue to follow Application Final Action Dates for March as well.

Final Action Dates for Employment-Based Preference Cases

immi blog march

Dates for Filing of Employment-Based Visa Applications

visa bulletin

ARTICLE BY Patricia A. Elmas of Greenberg Traurig, LLP

© 2017 Greenberg Traurig, LLP. All rights reserved.

Department of State Releases February 2017 Visa Bulletin

immigration policy visa bulletin stampNo change in Dates for Filing chart again; scant advancement in Final Action Dates chart.

The US Department of State (DOS) has released its January 2017 Visa Bulletin. The Visa Bulletin sets out per-country priority date cutoffs that regulate immigrant visa availability and the flow of adjustment of status and consular immigrant visa application filings and approvals.

What Does the February 2017 Visa Bulletin Say?

The February 2017 Visa Bulletin includes both a Dates for Filing Visa Applications chart and an Application Final Action Dates chart. The former indicates when intending immigrants may file their applications for adjustment of status or immigrant visas, and the latter indicates when an adjustment of status application or immigrant visa application may be approved and permanent residence granted.

If US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) determines that there are more immigrant visas available for a fiscal year than there are known applicants for such visas, it will state on its website that applicants may use the Dates for Filing Visa Applications chart. Otherwise, applicants should use the Application Final Action Dates chart to determine when they may file their adjustment of status applications.

It is not yet clear which chart the USCIS will select for February 2017 filings. To be eligible to file an employment-based (EB) adjustment application in February 2017, foreign nationals must have a priority date that is earlier than the date listed below for their preference category and country (changes from the last two months’ Visa Bulletin dates are shown in yellow). In January 2017, USCIS announced that EB applications should be filed using the Application Final Action Dates chart.

Application Final Action Dates

EB

All Charge-

ability

Areas Except

Those Listed

China

(mainland

born)

El Salvador,

Guatemala,

and Honduras

India

Mexico

Philippines

1st

C

C

C

C

C

C

2nd

C

15 NOV12 (was 15OCT12)

C

15APR08

C

C

3rd

01OCT16 (was 01AUG16)

01Oct13 (was 08SEP13)

01OCT16 (was 01AUG16)

22MAR05 (was 15MAR05)

01OCT16 (was 01AUG16)

15OCT11

(was 22JUL11)

Other Workers

01OCT16 (was 01AUG16)

01DEC05

01OCT16 (was 01AUG16)

22MAR05 (was 15MAR05)

01OCT16 (was 01AUG16)

15OCT11 (was 22JUL11)

Dates for Filing Visa Applications

EB

All Charge-

ability

Areas Except

Those Listed

China

(mainland

born)

India

Mexico

Philippines

1st

C

C

C

C

C

2nd

C

01MAR13

22APR09

C

C

3rd

C

01MAY14

01JUL05

C

01SEP13

Other Workers

C

01AUG09

01JUL05

C

01SEP13

How This Affects You

On the Application Final Action Dates chart, the cutoff dates for EB-1 will remain “current” for all chargeable countries, including India and China.

The EB-2 cutoff dates for the worldwide allotment as well as El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, and the Philippines will also remain “current.” Cutoff dates will remain at April 15, 2008 for EB-2 India and will advance by one month for EB-2 China to November 15, 2012.

The EB-3 cutoff dates for the worldwide allotment as well as El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Mexico will advance by two months to October 1, 2016. Cutoff dates will advance by three weeks to October 1, 2013 for EB-3 China. The cutoff date for EB-3 India will advance by one week to March 22, 2005. The cutoff date for EB-3 Philippines will advance by nearly three months to October 15, 2011.

The EB-5 China cutoff date will advance by one week to April 15, 2014.

As confirmed by the DOS, the EB-1 allotment should remain current in the coming months.

Read the February 2017 Visa Bulletin.

Copyright © 2017 by Morgan, Lewis & Bockius LLP. All Rights Reserved.

Department of State Releases October 2016 Visa Bulletin

October 2016 Visa bulletinEmployment-based China and India First Preference and Worldwide Second Preference cutoff dates become “current” once again.

The US Department of State (DOS) has released its October 2016 Visa Bulletin. The Visa Bulletin sets out per-country priority date cutoffs that regulate immigrant visa availability and the flow of adjustment of status and consular immigrant visa application filings and approvals.

What Does the October 2016 Visa Bulletin Say?

The October 2016 Visa Bulletin includes a Dates for Filing Visa Applications chart and an Application Final Action Dates chart. The former indicates when intending immigrants may file their applications for adjustment of status or immigrant visas, and the latter indicates when an adjustment of status application or immigrant visa application may be approved and permanent residence granted.

If the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) determine that there are more immigrant visas available for a fiscal year than there are known applicants for such visas, it will state on its website that applicants may use the Dates for Filing Visa Applications chart. Otherwise, applicants should use the Application Final Action Dates chart to determine when they may file their adjustment of status applications. It is not yet clear which chart the USCIS will select for October 2016 filings. To be eligible to file an employment-based (EB) adjustment application in October 2016, foreign nationals must have a priority date that is earlier than the date listed below for their preference category and country (changes from last month’s Visa Bulletin dates are shown in yellow).

Application Final Action Dates

Application Final Action Days
EB All Charge-
ability 
Areas Except
Those Listed
China
(mainland 
born)
El Salvador,
Guatemala,
and Honduras
India Mexico Philippines
1st C C (was 01JAN10) C C (was 01JAN10) C C
2nd C (was 01FEB14) 15FEB12 (was 01JAN10) C (was 01FEB14) 15JAN07 (was 22FEB05) C (was 01FEB14) C (was 01FEB14)
3rd 01JUN16 (was 01MAY16) 22JAN13 (was 01JAN10) 01JUN16 (was 15MAy16) 15MAR05 (was 15FEB05) 01JUN16 (was 15MAY16) 01DEC10 (was 01JULY10)
Other Workers 01JUN16 (was 15MAY16) 01JAN05 (was 01JAN10) 01JUN16 (was 01MAY16) 01MAR05
(was 15FEB05)
01JUN16 (was 15MAY16) 01DEC10
(was 01JUL10)

Dates for Filing Visa Applications

Application Filing Dates
EB All Charge
ability 
Areas Except
Those Listed
China
(mainland 
born)
India Mexico Philippines
1st C C C C C
2nd C 01MAR13
(was 01JUN13)
22APR09
(was 01JUL09)
C C
3rd C 01MAY14 (was 01MAY15) 01JUL05 C 01SEP13
(was 01JAN13)
Other Workers C 01AUG09 01JUL05 C 01SEP13
(was 01JAN13)

How This Affects You

On the Application Final Action Dates chart, the cutoff dates for EB-1 will once again be “current” for all chargeable countries, including India and China. EB-2 cutoff dates for the worldwide allotment, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, and Philippines will be “current” as well. Cutoff dates for EB-2 India and EB-2 China will advance by slightly more than two years (China to February 15, 2012 and India to January 15, 2007).

EB-3 final action cutoff dates for the worldwide allotment, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Mexico will advance by one month to June 1, 2016. The final action cutoff date for EB-3 China will advance by more than three years to January 22, 2013. EB-3 India will advance by two weeks to March 1, 2005, and EB-3 Philippines will advance by five months to December 1, 2010. The EB-5 China cutoff date will remain unchanged at February 15, 2014.

The DOS confirmed that the EB-1 allotment should remain current in the coming months, the allotments for China should see modest advancement of three months, and the allotment for India will advance by up to four months. EB-1 allotments will return to “current” status for October. The EB-3 category may see retrogression in the worldwide classification with advancements of up to three months for EB-3 China and up to one week for EB-3 India.

Read the entire October 2016 Visa Bulletin.

ARTICLE BY A. James Vázquez-Azpiri of Morgan, Lewis & Bockius LLP
Copyright © 2016 by Morgan, Lewis & Bockius LLP. All Rights Reserved.

September 2016 Visa Bulletin Released

september visa bulletinThis week, the Department of State released the September 2016 Visa Bulletin. Given that visa numbers are issued based on the government fiscal year, we expect to see significant movement again in October 2016; for September 2016, the last month of FY2016, there were only minor changes with regard to movement of final action dates in most of the employment-based categories from the August 2016 Visa Bulletin:

  • The Worldwide EB-1 category remains current, but for individuals born in India and Mainland China, there continues to be a cutoff date in the EB-1 category of Jan. 1, 2010 (a change implemented in the August 2016 Visa Bulletin).

  • The cutoff date for Worldwide chargeability in the EB-2 category is still Feb. 1, 2014, but it is likely to return to current in October 2016 at the start of FY2017. The cutoff date for Mainland China remained constant at Jan. 1, 2010. However, there was significant movement in the EB-2 category for India, which moved forward from Nov. 15, 2004, to Feb. 22, 2005.

  • In the EB-3 category, the cutoff date for Worldwide chargeability, as well as El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Mexico moved more than a year (from March 15, 2016 to May 1, 2016). The cutoff date for Mainland China stayed constant at Jan. 1, 2010. However, the cutoff date for India in the EB-3 category advanced several months from Nov. 8, 2004, to Feb. 15, 2005, and the cutoff date for the Philippines moved over a year from May 15, 2009, to July 1, 2010.

  • For those in the EB-5 category, the priority date remains current for all applicants other than those born in Mainland China, which maintains a cutoff date of Feb. 15, 2014.

With regards to those seeking to file applications for adjustment of status, the U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Service (USCIS) website indicates that the “Final Action Dates” chart for employment-based applications must be used in determining when an applicant is eligible to file Form I-485.

The September 2016 Final Action Dates for Employment-Based Preference Categories are as follows:

Table, VISA

Finally, the Department of State also determined the Family and Employment preference numerical limits for FY2016, as outlined in Section 201(c) and (d) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) as follows:

Worldwide Family-Sponsored preference limit:          226,000

Worldwide Employment-Based preference limit:        140,338

         TOTAL                                                                     366,338

The per-country limit is fixed at 7 percent of the combined annual limits or 25,644 for FY2016. The dependent area annual limit is fixed at 2 percent of the combined annual limits or 7,327 for FY2016.

©2016 Greenberg Traurig, LLP. All rights reserved.

Quota Reserved for Most Desired Immigrant Applicants Retrogresses for Natives of India and China!

august 2016 student loansThe Department of State published its August 2016 Visa Bulletin and it has a few impactful surprises. This is not good news for companies and foreign nationals.  Indian and Chinese foreign nationals, as usual, are the hardest hit.  Specifically, the historically open First Preference Employment Based Category (EB-1) retrogressed to January 1, 2010 for Indian and Chinese nationals.  We can’t recall the last time the EB-1 category was not current.

This is astonishing when you consider that the EB-1 group represents some of the most talented foreign nationals that are immigrating to the US. Specifically, the EB-1 category includes:

  • Individuals of Extraordinary Ability – to qualify the individual must be able to demonstrate extraordinary ability in the sciences, arts, education, business, or athletics through sustained national or international acclaim.

  • Outstanding Researchers – to qualify the individual must demonstrate international recognition for his/her outstanding achievements in a particular academic field. The individual must have at least 3 years’ experience in teaching or research in that academic area and must be in the United States in order to pursue research in the field.

  • Multinational Managers/Executives – to qualify the individual must have been employed as a manager or executive outside the United States in the 3 years preceding the petition for at least 1 year by a parent, affiliate or subsidiary of a U.S. company where they will serve in the U.S. in a managerial or executive capacity.

There are additional delays for other nationalities and categories as well see: https://travel.state.gov/content/visas/en/law-and-policy/bulletin/2016/visa-bulletin-for-august-2016.html. The most common employment based visa categories, beyond EB-1, are Second (EB-2) and Third (EB-3) preference. EB-2 is applicable for jobs that require an advanced degree or equivalent as a minimum, exceptional ability in the arts, sciences or business, and National Interest Waivers for individuals whose work is in the national interest. The EB-3 classification is for skilled workers, professionals and unskilled workers.

Chinese nationals are being treated the same this August, whether first, second or third preference. All three categories have a January 1, 2010 priority date. For Indian nationals, EB-1 is still the best category, but with the January 1, 2010 priority date – the news is not good! The EB-2 and EB-3 categories have a priority date of November 2004. Can you imagine waiting more than twelve years to complete a process once started?

Notably, the EB-2 “all other” category retrogressed to February 1, 2014 which is worse than the third preference category at March 15, 2016. So, EB-3 all other is better than EB-2! We haven’t see this type of movement in the “all other” category for a significant period of time.

What this Visa Bulletin represents is a “shutting off” of the flow of immigrant visas being issued for what is expected to be the remainder of the fiscal year. Fiscal Year 2017 starts on October 1, 2016 and new visa numbers will be available. In the August Visa Bulletin, the Department of State indicates that the EB-1 category will be opening back up in October. Assuming the State Departments calculations are generally on target, we should see movement in October or later in the fall that will resemble the dates where we left off in July 2016.

The Visa Bulletin and lack of visa numbers for skilled workers continues to be a daunting problem for employers and foreign nationals alike. The system for foreign nationals who want to “follow the rules” has broken down.   Further, there is no relief, or comprehensive immigration reform, in sight. Expect more whiplash inducing movement in the future.

ARTICLE BY Valarie H McPherson of Proskauer Rose LLP

July 2016 Visa Bulletin Released

july 2016 visa bulletinProjections include EB-1 Cutoff Date for China and India, Slow EB-2 and EB-3 Movement, EB-4 Backlogs for Latin America to ease, and EB-5 China to advance slightly.

 

This week, the Department of State (DOS) has released the July 2016 Visa Bulletin. We are three months from the end of the fiscal year and the dwindling visa numbers remaining are likely to bring about tepid advancement in many employment-based categories before October. This Bulletin brings several particular items of note relating to the anticipated movement of final action dates:

  • For the first time in recent collective memory, the State Department is predicting that EB-1 (which is usually “Current”) will have a cutoff date “no later than September” for China and India, but becoming current again in October 2016. Worldwide is expected to remain Current through all relevant times.

  • In the EB-2 category, a date for Worldwide chargeability is likely to be “imposed by September” with a return to “current” in October. The State Department predicts that there will be no forward movement for China EB-2, and India EB-2 will only move one week beyond India EB-3.

  • Limited movement is predicted in EB-3, with the exceptions of India reaching early 2005 and Philippines reaching late 2009 or early 2010.

  • Mexico, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Mexico face an EB-4 priority date of Jan. 1, 2010. Although this 6.5 year backlog may appear daunting, the State Department does caution the following:

Readers should be aware that the establishment of the Employment Fourth preference Final Action date of January 1, 2010 does not mean that applicants are now subject to a wait in excess of six years. That Final Action Date is intended only to stop any further use of numbers by applicants from those countries under the FY-2016 annual limit, not to indicate how long it will be before applicants will be eligible for final action.”

In October, Mexico EB-4 is projected to become current. El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras are anticipated to have a 2015 cutoff date.

  • In the EB-5 realm, China has not advanced from June 2016. The “best case” scenario is a March 1, 2014, cutoff date by September.

For those seeking to adjust status, The United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) website indicates that the Application Final Action Dates chart must be used for filing Form I-485.

The July 2016 Final Action Dates for Employment-Based Applications are as follows:

July 2016 visa bulletin 1

Likewise, the July 2016 Dates for Filing are:

Jule 2016 visa bulletin 2

©2016 Greenberg Traurig, LLP. All rights reserved.