On November 20, 2016, the Chief of the Visa Control and Reporting Division of the Department of State, Charles Oppenheim, provided his outlook on recent trends and future projections for employment-based immigrant preference categories of the Visa Bulletin.
December Visa Bulletin Predictions
- A final action date has been imposed on the EB-4 preference category for the country of Mexico in the month of December
- The non-minister EB-4 special immigrant category and the I5 and R5 classifications of the immigrant investor pilot program will expire on December 9, 2016.
- EB-1 China and EB-1 India are expected to be subject to a final action date in the near future
- A final action cut-off date will be imposed for EB-2 Worldwide, EB-2 Mexico, and EB-2 Philippines by the month of July.
January and February Projections
Regarding movement of EB-4 El Salvador/Guatemala/Honduras during the next 12 months
Oppenheim has stated that the State Department does not have any knowledge of the volume of cases adjudicated by USCIS for this preference category. Due to this lack of information, the State Department does not know at what rate USCIS will pre-adjudicate these cases once the final action date is in place. The reason the December cut-off date for Mexico was imposed was because there was a large number of EB-4 Mexico petitions processed with 2015 and 2016 priority dates. A retrogression of the EB-4 final action date for these countries is not expected to occur during this fiscal year, despite high demand. There is currently a very high level of demand in this category that is expected to continue. Typically, when a final action cut-off date is imposed, demand increases, because applicants rush to apply quickly before a retrogression is imminent.
EB-4 El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras nationals may consider waiting to obtain their medical exam until their priority date becomes current, or there is more certainty in this category. If you have an EB-4 petition with a 2016 priority date and you are a national of El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, or Mexico, you should not obtain a medical examination at this time.
EB-4 Annual limit for El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Mexico
These countries have not reached the annual limit for this fiscal year, but are expected to reach the limit sometime in early 2017. Future availability in this category will depend on unused numbers under the EB-4 annual limit.
The final action cut-off date for EB-3 China is ahead of EB-2 China’s final action date by 10 months. As a result, demand for EB-2 China is expected to increase caused by requests to downgrade EB-2 China. Charlie expects this gap to close gradually based on the amount of demand for EB-3 China. If demand slows during the next few months, the final action date will advance more quickly.
EB-2 India is in very high demand due to EB-3 upgrades. The final action date is expected to reach 2009 sometime during this fiscal year. There is also high demand for EB-2 Worldwide. If demand for this category continues, very few unused visa numbers will be available for EB-2 India. EB-2 India may benefit from the addition of unused numbers by other countries. Charlie expects EB-3 India to be “on hold” in the month of January, then advance to one week in February, and be “on hold” for another month or two before continuing to advance. EB-1 India is also in high demand, having surpassed the country limit for the fiscal year. EB-1 China is nearing its annual limit as well. A final action date for EB-1 India and China will be imposed during this fiscal year.
For EB-2 Worldwide/Mexico/Philippines the level of demand has not decreased. A final action date is expected to be imposed by July.
For more information about the Visa Bulletin please click here.