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.

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