Check-in with Department of State Charlie Oppenheim Regarding April 2019 Visa Bulletin

Family-Based: Charlie advises that we can expect movements in the family-based preference categories consistent with those in recent visa bulletins. However, he cautions that we should not get too accustomed to consistent rapid forward movement in these categories.

 

Employment-Based:

EB-1:

Charlie warns that we should not expect any movement for EB-1 China and EB-1 India Final Action Dates. Movement for both is only possible if EB-1 Worldwide demand slows down to a sufficient level that would allow otherwise unused numbers to be allocated to these countries. If the current demand trends continue, that is unlikely. We should expect movement of anywhere from no movement to up to one month for EB-1 Worldwide Final Action Dates.

Charlie mentioned that only about half of the EB-2 Worldwide numbers for this fiscal year have been used, which is approximately where he would like that number to be. If the current demand trend continues, EB-2 Worldwide should remain current throughout the FY2019.

 

EB-2 and EB-3 India Remain Flipped:

In the April 2019 Visa Bulletin, the EB-2 India Final Action Date once again advances only three days to April 12, 2009. EB-3 India remains ahead of EB-2 India, advancing a full month for a Final Action Date of June 22, 2009.

Since EB-2 Worldwide demand is on target to use, but not exceed its numbers this fiscal year, few, if any numbers can be expected to be left unused. Thus, there will likely not be any additional numbers available for EB-2 India use.

 

EB-2 and EB-3 China:

In contrast to India, EB-2 China remains ahead of EB-3 China. In April 2019, EB-2 China advances three months to a Final Action Date of April 1, 2016, and EB-3 China advances three weeks to a Final Action Date of August 1, 2015. Like India, these trends are expected to continue for the foreseeable future.

EB-3 Philippines:

Rapid advancement continues for EB-3 Philippines in April, as the category leaps forward three months for a Final Action Date of March 1, 2018.

EB-4:

We should expect continued forward movement in EB-4 Mexico until this category reaches it per country limit, at which time its Final Action Date will match that of EB-4 El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras.

EB-4 El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras may experience some additional movement in May or June 2019, though it will be minimal.

According to Charlie, EB-4 India is likely to reach its per country limit again in either August or September of FY2019. He expects that when this occurs the category will retrogress briefly, and then come current again on October 1, 2019.

 

Check in with Department of State’s Charlie Oppenheim regarding the February 2019 Visa Bulletin

In the February 2019 Visa Bulletin, Charlie provides his predictions for monthly forward movement for various categories. These predictions are based on current demand trends and are reliable through May 2019. Movement “up to five weeks” should be interpreted as a range of movement per month between zero and five weeks. Charlie anticipates publishing updated projections for potential monthly movement in the July 2019 Visa Bulletin.

Check-in with DOS’s Charlie Oppenheim Regarding the January 2019 Visa Bulletin

With only modest movement in the employment-based preference categories for the first quarter of the fiscal year, we were hoping to see more dramatic forward movement in some of these categories starting with the January 2019 Visa Bulletin. However, movement tracks similarly to what we experienced during the first quarter.

As of now, Charlie does not have sufficient data to know whether the current demand trend will continue into January so he is unable to comfortably predict final action date movements in the near term. While Charlie initially hoped to publish specific projections in the January Bulletin, he now expects to publish projections in the February Visa Bulletin.

Since final action dates in several employment-based categories retrogressed during the final months of FY2018, demand in the first quarter was generally high across these categories, and applications which were unable to be processed for a few months are now coming through the pipeline. Charlie is concerned that demand data may be artificially high and not reflect the true level of future demand. He will continue to cautiously monitor demand levels over the next few weeks to assess whether this is a true trend and will make predictions accordingly.

It has been fortunate that USCIS has decided to accept adjustment of status applications based on the “Dates for Filing” through the first quarter of FY2019, but the Final Action Dates may apply as early as February.

Interestingly, for both EB-3 China and India, the Dates for Filing far surpass those for EB-2. This creates the potential for downgrade filings which may not be available after January.

Check-in with DOS’s Charlie Oppenheim Regarding the December 2018 Visa Bulletin

Family-Based Preference Categories

All of the family-based Final Action Dates advance in December with the exception of FB-1 Mexico, FB-2B Mexico, FB-3 Mexico, and FB-4 Mexico, which will hold at their November Final Action Dates.

Employment-Based Preference Categories

EB-1. As predicted last month, in December all of the EB-1 Final Action Dates advance three months, with EB-1 Worldwide, El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras, Mexico, Philippines and Vietnam advancing to July 1, 2017. The Final Action Dates for EB-1 China and EB-1 India advance to September 1, 2016.

If the Dates for Filing are any indication, members might see the Final Action Dates for EB-1 Worldwide, El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras, Mexico, Philippines and Vietnam reach June 1, 2018 within the next eight to twelve months. Similarly, the Final Action Dates for EB-1 China and EB-1 India are predicted to reach October 1, 2017 within the next eight to twelve months.

Charlie expects that the Final Action Dates for all EB-1 categories will continue to advance. It is difficult, however, for Charlie to predict at this time how rapidly they might advance, but he hopes to have more information in December. Data provided in the USCIS National Benefits Center reports are guiding his decisions on this and other employment-based categories.

It is pure coincidence that EB-1 Worldwide (including El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Philippines and Vietnam) advance at the same pace as EB-1 China and EB-1 India in December. These categories could advance at a faster pace than EB-1 China and EB-1 India at some point over the next few months.

EB-2 and EB-3 China. Massive EB-3 China demand—far in excess of the targeted amount–materialized in October, whereas EB-2 China demand fell short, resulting in the Final Action Date for EB-2 China leaping ahead one and a half months to July 1, 2015, ahead of EB-3 China, which advanced only one week to June 8, 2015. This is likely to discourage EB-3 downgrades, but watch this closely as there is always a possibility that these categories will flip again, depending on demand.

EB-2 and EB-3 India. The Final Action Date for EB-2 India advances only one week in December to April 1, 2009, while the Final Action Date for EB-3 India leaps forward two months to March 1, 2009, putting these categories within only one month of one another. If EB-3 to EB-2 upgrades continue, this will further impact the ability of EB-2 India to advance. It is likely that members will see the Final Action Date for EB-3 India surpass EB-2 India within the next few months, creating the same scenario we have seen with China over the past few years.

EB-3 and Other Workers Philippines. In December, EB-3 and Other Workers Philippines again advance one week to June 15, 2017. Members should continue to expect only minimal movement in this category during the first half of the fiscal year due to concerns that sharp advancement could trigger huge demand which would result in retrogression.

EB-4. The Final Action Date for EB-4 El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras which has recently been in a holding pattern, advances one week in December to February 22, 2016. Members should expect this category to hold for a month or so followed by possible intermittent modest advancement.

EB-4 Mexico is current for filing and its Final Action Date advances five weeks to January 1, 2017 in December. If demand trends for this category continue, members may see continued forward movement. Despite the comparative lower demand in this category, Charlie still expects EB-4 Mexico to reach its per country limit at some point this fiscal year (possibly May), at which time it will track to the Final Action Date of EB-4 El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras.

EB-5. In December, the Final Action Date for EB-5 China advances one week, while EB-5 Vietnam advances three months.

CHECK IN WITH CHARLIE OPPENHEIM, DOS, REGARDING NOVEMBER VISA BULLETIN

Family-Based Preference Categories

All of the family-based final action dates advance in November with the exception of FB-1 Mexico and FB-3 Mexico, which will hold at August 1, 1997 and December 22, 1995.

Demand for FB-3 India is extremely heavy. Charlie reports that he has not previously seen this much consistent demand in the FB-3 category in any other country.

Employment-Based Preference Categories

EB-1. As predicted last month, the EB-1 final action dates hold steady in November. Although it now appears likely that there will be some forward movement in December for EB-1 China, EB-1 India and EB-1 Worldwide, it remains unclear how far these categories will advance, though they will not return to current this calendar year. Charlie also cautions not to expect EB-1 Worldwide to return to current in the foreseeable future and that this is likely to be “the new normal” through at least the first half of the fiscal year.

EB-2 China and EB-3 China. EB-2 China leaps forward one and one-half months to May 15, 2015 in November, while EB-3 China holds at June 1, 2015, rendering EB-3 China only two weeks ahead of EB-2 China. Based on available demand data, members should expect EB-2 China to continue to advance. In contrast, the current demand pattern in EB-3 China continues to be heavy, prohibiting forward advancement at this time. It is unclear whether this surge in EB-3 China demand is attributable to downgrades from EB-2 or new third preference filings. This creates the possibility that EB-2 China will surpass EB-3 China again.

EB-2 India and EB-3 India. There is no advancement in November in any of the employment-based final action dates for India. The September projection of limited movement in EB-2 India continues to apply, and any advancement that may occur in December will be limited to no more than one week. In contrast, demand in EB-3 India is light, so members should start to see a fairly sizeable advancement in this category of at least a few weeks (and possibly months) in December.

The EB-3 India final action date moved very rapidly over the past year, advancing almost one and one-half years. Current demand projections make it likely that EB-3 India could surpass EB-2 India at some point this fiscal year.

EB-3 Philippines and Other Workers Philippines. In November, EB-3 Philippines and Other Workers Philippines advances one week to June 8, 2017. Members should continue to expect only minimal movement in this category during the first quarter of the fiscal year. This slow forward movement is based on a concern that rapid forward movement during the past year will eventually result in an increased level of demand.

EB-4. The final action date for EB-4 El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras holds at February 15, 2016 in November due to a significant amount of potential demand prior to that date, and pre-adjudicated demand beyond it. EB-4 Mexico will continue to advance at a steady pace until it reaches its per country limit, at which time it will return to the same final action date as EB-4 El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras. It will probably take until at least the spring for this to occur.

EB-5. EB-5 (Regional Center and Non-Regional Center) China holds at August 15, 2014 in November, with EB-5 (Regional Center and Non-Regional Center) Vietnam continuing to advance until it reaches its per country limit, at which time, its final action date will track that of EB-5 China.

Check-in with DOS’s Charlie Oppenheim Regarding October Visa Bulletin

Employment-Based Preference Categories

EB-1. For October, EB-1 Worldwide along with all other countries except China and India, advances ten months to April 1, 2017. Charlie remains pessimistic that the EB-1 Worldwide final action date will advance before the end of this calendar year. He forecloses the possibility of advancement in November and is pessimistic that there will be advancement in December but notes that there will be some forward movement in all EB-1 categories after the beginning of 2019. Demand is sufficiently high that Charlie is unable to predict at this time whether this category will become current in FY 2019. Charlie does not expect any advancement of EB-1 China or EB-1 India before January 2019 and believes it is “almost guaranteed” that both categories will be subject to a final action date through the fiscal year.

EB-2 and EB-3 Worldwide. As previously predicted, EB-2 Worldwide and EB-3 Worldwide will return to current in October and will remain current for the foreseeable future and well into the next calendar year. Charlie has not seen expected growth in EB-3 Worldwide.

EB-2 China and EB-3 China. While EB-2 China recovers to April 1, 2015 in October, it will not surpass the EB-3 China final action date, which advances to June 1, 2015. It is unclear whether EB-3 China’s two-month lead will be significant enough to spur downgrade demand. If there are not as many downgrades, EB-3 China could advance more rapidly than expected. Charlie has no visibility into EB-3 China “downgrade” demand until a visa number is requested, so this category may move modestly to avoid future retrogression. Members should continue to watch these two categories closely.

EB-2 India and EB-3 India. EB-2 India advances to March 26, 2009 in October, with EB-3 India trailing behind by less than three months at January 1, 2009. Members should carefully watch movements in these two categories. Based on the dates for filing and depending on the level of demand in each of these categories, it is possible that EB-3 India may surpass EB-2 India at some point this fiscal year.

EB-3 Philippines and Other Workers Philippines. As predicted, EB-3 Philippines and Other Workers Philippines will recover to June 1, 2017 in October. Members should expect only minimal movement during the first quarter of the fiscal year.

EB-4. As predicted, EB-4 Mexico will fully recover in October to its June Visa Bulletin date of October 22, 2016, EB-4 India will return to current, and EB-4 El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras remain at February 15, 2016 in October. There will be forward movement in EB-4 El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras this fiscal year, but anything more than minimal movement is unlikely in Q1. Due to visibility into pre-adjudicated cases filed prior to the imposition of a final action date in May 2016, as well as potential future demand by cases with old priority dates, Charlie is moving this category conservatively to avoid a future retrogression.

EB-4 India. It is expected that this category will be subject to a final action date again, but that will not likely happen until late in the fiscal year.

EB-5 Non-Regional Center for China and Vietnam will advance to August 15, 2014 and January 1, 2016 respectively in October.

EB-5 China. Demand remains high, so members should not expect much movement in this category throughout the fiscal year. EB-5 Vietnam, in contrast, is likely to advance modestly early in the fiscal year until it reaches its per country limit, at which time, its final action date will track EB-5 China.

Check-in with DOS’s Charlie Oppenheim Regarding the September Visa Bulletin

Family-Based Preference Categories

September brings a one-month retrogression in the final action dates for FB-1 Worldwide, China and India, from May 8, 2011 back to April 8, 2011.

FB-3 Worldwide, China and India also retrogress approximately 6 weeks, from June 15, 2006 to May 1, 2006. In October 2018, when the new fiscal year commences, these categories will recover and return to the previously held August final action dates.

All Philippines family-based preference categories will advance in September except FB-2A Philippines.

FB-1 Mexico, FB-2B Mexico and FB-3 Mexico all advance modestly in September.

In the first few months of FY 2019, it is predicted that the Worldwide family-based preference categories will advance as follows: FB-1: up to three weeks, following an October recovery; FB-2A: up to three to five weeks; FB-2B: up to six weeks; FB-3: up to three to five weeks, following an October recovery; FB-4: up to five weeks. Members should keep in mind that whenever the Visa Bulletin indicates there will be movement “up to” a certain amount of time, there could be no movement or movement up to the maximum of the referenced period.

Employment-Based Preference Categories

EB-1. Despite a one-month advancement in September and previously expressed hopes that EB-1 Worldwide would return to current on October 1, 2018 (as it has in past years), heavy demand will preclude the category from returning to current in October. Charlie further believes that EB-1 China and EB-1 India will continue to have final action dates in October which are earlier than those established for Worldwide. It is unlikely that any of the EB-1 categories will have much forward movement before December or possibly into Q2 of FY 2019.

EB-2 Worldwide. This category will return to current in October and will remain so for the foreseeable future.

EB-2 China and EB-3 China Flip Again, but is it Too Soon to Downgrade? In September, EB-2 China will retrogress from March 1, 2015 to the Worldwide date of January 1, 2013, resulting in EB-3 China having a more favorable date than EB-2 China. Despite this dramatic retrogression, Charlie predicts that EB-2 China will fully recover to at least the August Visa Bulletin date of March 1, 2015 in October, once again causing EB-2 China’s final action date to be later than that of EB-3 China. EB-2 China will move very slowly through the first quarter of the fiscal year, as Charlie assesses demand from earlier movements.

EB-3 China advances four months in September to November 1, 2014 and is expected to advance from this date by up to three weeks at a time, starting in October. While EB-2 China is likely to stay ahead of EB-3 China for the first quarter of the fiscal year, members should continue to watch these categories closely as their dates are only within a few months of one another.

EB-2 and EB-3 India. After its long-awaited movement into 2009, EB-2 India retrogresses more than two years to January 1, 2007 in September. This abrupt retrogression should be short-lived as Charlie expects EB-2 India to recover to a 2009 date in October and to advance at a pace of up to two weeks at a time. In September, EB-3 and Other Workers India retrogresses six years to January 1, 2003 but will recover in October and then move slowly pending receipt of demand from recent advances. The dramatic retrogression of these categories was required to stop further number use in light of the recent increase in demand by all other countries, resulting in a lack of “otherwise unused” numbers available for India EB-2/EB-3.

EB-3 and Other Workers. A final action date of November 1, 2016 is briefly imposed for EB-3 Worldwide, Mexico and Vietnam (as well as El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras), and Other Workers Worldwide, Mexico, and Vietnam, but all of these categories will return to current in October.

EB-3 China. This category advances four months to November 1, 2014, and Other Workers China holds at May 1, 2007. These categories are expected to move at a pace of up to three weeks.

EB-3 Philippines. In September, this category and Other Workers Philippines retrogresses seven months to November 1, 2016 but is expected to recover some in October.

EB-4 El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, EB-4 Mexico and EB-4 India all advance one week to February 15, 2016. Members should expect variances in these categories starting in October.

Given the complexity of processing Special Immigrant Juvenile cases, it is very difficult for Charlie to predict when pending cases will mature into demand for visa numbers. Members should expect EB-4 El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras to at least hold at February 15, 2016 for October.

EB-4 Mexico will fully recover in October to its June Visa Bulletin date of October 22, 2016, and EB-4 India will return to current in October.

EB-5 Non-Regional Center and Regional Center for both China and Vietnam will advance one week to August 8, 2014 in September. Charlie expects that for both countries, these categories will continue to operate under a final action date as we enter FY19. Their dates are likely to be different, however, with Vietnam’s date being later than that of China for the first five to six months of the fiscal year, until EB-5 Vietnam hits it’s per country limit. At that time, its final action date will track that of China.

Check-in with Department of State’s Charlie Oppenheim regarding the August Visa Bulletin

Employment-Based Preference Categories

Further retrogression of the EB-1 Worldwide final action date cannot be ruled out in September, but there will be a recovery of the date in October.

The final action date for EB-1 Worldwide China and EB-1 India will hold at January 1, 2012 in August, and again for September, with the anticipated recovery of visa availability in October. Charlie will continue to watch trends over the summer and is working closely with USCIS to determine applicant demand which will be eligible for processing in October.

EB-4 India Tracks EB-4 El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Mexico in August. As predicted, in August, EB-4 India joins EB-4 El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Mexico, with a final action date of February 8, 2016, due to an influx of demand in May, June, and early July.EB-4 India will return to current in October.

There is a slim chance of forward movement in EB-4 El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Mexico in September. If that occurs, the date will likely hold for a few months. Charlie is cautious about advancing this category to avoid a subsequent retrogression. The ever-increasing availability of statistical data required for the determination of this date could lead to slightly more regular movements throughout FY 2019, rather than just during the final quarter.

China. EB-2 China advances two months to March 1, 2015 and EB-3 China advances 1.5 years to July 1, 2014 in August. EB-3 China, which had recently retrogressed due to significant downgrade demand, has subsided somewhat, allowing for this forward movement. At this point there has not been a dramatic increase in EB-2 China demand based on movement of that date, which is allowing some of these numbers to fall to EB-3. Charlie cautions against expectations of regular advancement of EB-3 China during FY-2019, as such movements are dependent on the development of future demand patterns.

India. EB-2 India will hold at March 15, 2009 in August and is anticipated to remain there through this fiscal year. EB-2 Worldwide demand has picked up sufficiently enough to use the remaining EB-2 numbers which had allowed the India EB-2 date to advance. Although Charlie will review the numbers again later this month, unless there is an unlikely dramatic dip in worldwide demand that would justify advancing EB-2 India further, it will continue to hold.

In our last column we reported that EB-2 Worldwide demand is increasing and might require Charlie to impose a final action date before the end of the fiscal year. EB-2 Worldwide will remain current in August. As noted last month, if a final action date is imposed in September, the category will return to current in October.

EB-3 India will advance two months in August to January 1, 2009. The gap in final action dates between EB-2 India (March 15, 2009) and EB-3 India (January 1, 2009) continues to narrow, leaving only 2.5 months between these categories. As to whether he expects these dates will “flip-flop” as they have for China in recent years, Charlie reminds members that he advanced the final action date for EB-3 India to generate demand for visa usage next fiscal year. Once that demand starts to materialize it is likely to slow EB-3 India’s advancement. The possibility of EB-3 India’s final action date advancing beyond that of EB-2 India cannot be ruled out but Charlie is not able to speculate on this at this time.

EB-5. EB-5 China Non-Regional Center and Regional Center will continue to hold at August 1, 2014 in August and is expected to advance one week either in September or in October.

EB-5 Vietnam Non-Regional Center and Regional Center similarly holds at August 1, 2014. Charlie expects this category to advance to a 2016 date in October but cautions that the category it is likely to retrogress again once it hits its annual limit by spring.

February 2018 Visa Bulletin – Check-in with Charlie Oppenheim, Department of State 

EB-1 India and EB-1 China.
Charlie expects these categories to remain current for the coming months, but the imposition of a final action date in the summer remains likely if the current rate of demand continues.

EB-2 Worldwide.
This category should remain current for the foreseeable future.

EB-2 and EB-3 China.
The February Visa Bulletin predicts that EB-2 China will continue to advance at a rate of “(s)everal months.” Charlie clarified that this means advancement at a rate of two to three months, noting that EB-2 China may move at a faster pace to generate demand. EB-3 China is predicted to advance at a pace of “(u)p to five months.” Charlie advised that EB-3 China will likely continue to advance at a faster pace than EB-2 China.

EB-2 India. Given heavy demand, the February Visa Bulletin predicts modest forward movement for EB-2 India at a rate of “(u)p to two weeks.”

EB-3 India. The February Visa Bulletin predicts forward movement in this category at a pace of one to three months.

EB-3 Philippines. Demand in this category is comfortable, but not extremely high, which means there is less room to advance this date significantly.

Family-Based Categories

The February Visa Bulletin includes predictions for Worldwide family-based cases, with FB-1 Worldwide advancing at a pace of up to one month, FB-2A Worldwide advancing three to five weeks, FB-3 Worldwide advancing up to five weeks, and FB-4 worldwide advancing up to three weeks.