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Articles Posted in Visa Bulletin Priority Dates

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In order to apply for permanent residence, a relative or American employer must file an immigrant petition on your behalf. Family-sponsored and employment-based petitions are subject to visa limitations unlike petitions filed by immediate relatives who are US citizens. Immediate relative petitions remain unlimited and are always available. This means that if your petitioner is your immediate relative and a US Citizen you can file your I-485 at the same time as your immigrant petition.

In order to understand whether a visa is available to you and whether you can proceed with filing your application for permanent residence, you will need to keep a close eye on the Department of State’s Visa Bulletin. 

Family Sponsored Preference Categories are as follows:

FAMILY-SPONSORED PREFERENCES

First: (F1) Unmarried Sons and Daughters of U.S. Citizens:  23,400 plus any numbers not required for fourth preference.

Second: Spouses and Children, and Unmarried Sons and Daughters of Permanent Residents:  114,200, plus the number (if any) by which the worldwide family preference level exceeds 226,000, plus any unused first preference numbers:

A. (F2A) Spouses and Children of Permanent Residents:  77% of the overall second preference limitation, of which 75% are exempt from the per-country limit;

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Great news for Indian Nationals! The United States Department of State Bureau of Consular Affairs recently released the August Visa Bulletin which summarizes the availability of immigrant visas for the month of August for family-based and employment-based visa preferences. According to Section 201 of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) the allotted number of employment based visas is set to at least 140,000 visas for the worldwide level. The Visa Bulletin for August indicates that the second preference EB-2 employment-based category for India has advanced by 5 years when compared to the Visa Bulletin in the recent year. The advancement of the employment based second preference EB-2 category provides Indian nationals whose Form I-140 Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker was approved and whose priority dates fall before January 22nd of 2009, with the opportunity to apply for their green cards beginning August 2014. For priority dates related to family sponsored preferences and diversity immigrant categories please click here to read the August Visa Bulletin. For legal questions please contact our office and we would be happy to help.

Employment Based

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The Chief of the Visa Control and Reporting Division at the U.S. Department of State, Charles Oppenheim, recently shared the expected projections for monthly and annual visa demand and Visa Bulletin projections regarding family and employment based green cards. It is important to note that these projections may be subject to change based on the reported or observed visa demand witnessed by USCIS and the U.S. Department of State.

Important developments to look forward to this year include significant advancement of EB-2 category for India and unmarried sons and daughters of LPR over 21 years old. On the other hand, several immigrant visa categories are expected to retrogress due to high demand, such as the category of spouses and children of LPR, EB-5 for Chinese nationals and EB-3 for Chinese nationals. The expected projections are as follows:

Family Based Second Preference 2A Worldwide (FB-2A) –Spouses and Children (under 21) of Permanent Residents:

So the Visa Bulletin was released yesterday. FB-2A is now listed at September 2013 and EB-2 China advanced to September 15, 2008. EB-2 India remained at June 15, 2008.

Overall the movement is very Slow, we recommend Green Card holders that are eligible to file for their Spouse and Children under 21, to do so before the End of September. Read more about the reason in this article we released last month.

Why is there as limit on Visa Numbers?

As we reported before, if you are a Permanent Resident (Green Card holder), and your spouse is currently legal in the United States, as of August 1, 2013 you could file for Adjustment of Status (I-485 Benefits). That will include an application for a Green Card, Work Authorization, as well as a travel permit. The work card will be issued in 60-90 days in most jurisdictions. The Visa Bulletin for September was released and is still current.

On the employment side, EB3 for China, Mexico, and all chargeability areas except those listed jumps forward by a year-and-a-half to July 1, 2010. It is unclear what will happen in the next few months but we can not predict it will last. The same may happen in the Family categories as visas may retrogress again.

So if you are a Green Card holder, file fast for your spouse and children under 21.

Our Blog readers often inquire regarding visa wait times and priority dates. This article will answer the top three frequent asked questions by previous clients, which are “What is the visa waiting list?”, “Why there is a preference category?” and “What is the current cut-off date for my visa category in my country?”

I. What is the visa waiting list?

The visa waiting list refers to those cases where the petition from the U.S. sponsor has been approved, but they still cannot proceed with processing because of statutory limits on the total number of visas and the per-country limits. According to the U.S. Department of State, the annual family sponsored preference categories are limited to 226,000 (Note: this excludes spouses, parents, and minor children of U.S. Citizens, who are the highest priority for immigration and are exempt from immigration caps). It is required by the Immigration and Naturalization Act that family sponsored visas be granted in the order that the eligible potential immigrants applied.

This is a recent update. The State Department announced that the annual limit in the EB-2 category for China-mainland born and India has been reached. The State Department notified USCIS on April 11, 2012, that no further visas for those categories would be authorized. This is the “additional corrective action” that was forecast as a possibility in Section D of the May 2012 Visa Bulletin.

USCIS will continue to accept adjustment applications based upon cut-off dates published in the April and May Visa Bulletins. However, requests from USCIS service centers and field offices for visas in the EB-2 category aliens chargeable to China-mainland born or India will be retained by DOS for authorization in FY2013, beginning on October 1, 2012.

Visa applicants processing in April at consulates abroad will still receive visas, as those numbers were allocated before the cut-off date was established. USCIS will continue to accept applications for adjustment of status for aliens with priority dates prior to the date established in the April 2012 Visa Bulletin. Those cases with priority dates of August 15, 2007, or later, will be processed by USCIS to the point of approval (pre-adjudicated) and a request for a visa number will be forwarded Visa Control at DOS to be held in a “pending” file until new visas are available beginning with FY2013 on October 1, 2012 as we explained above.

In response to questions about projected priority date movement for the remainder of FY2012 posed by followers of our Blog we report based on AILA recent update, Charlie Oppenheim, DOS Chief of Immigrant Visa Control and Reporting, provided a chart with projected visa number movement based on recent patterns of USCIS number use, which recently have seen dramatic fluctuations. The following information can help with some predictions, but keep in mind these estimates are subject to change at any time.

Following our recent update on retrogression, we have the following news: Charlie Oppenheim, Chief, Immigrant Visa Control & Reporting in the State Department, provided AILA with further information on priority date movement in the EB-2 category for China-mainland born and India for the remainder of FY2012.

When the May Visa Bulletin is published, the China and India EB-2 cut-off will retrogress to August 15, 2007. Demand is still increasing at a very high rate and must be checked to maintain numbers for natives of other countries. As for projections for the remainder of the year, it is too early to predict movement.

USCIS has informed Mr. Oppenheim that they will continue to “preadjudicate” adjustment applications received through April. The “preadjudicated” cases will be held by the State Department in the “pending” demand file.

On March 16, 2012, at the AILA Midwest Regional Conference in Chicago, Charlie Oppenheim, Chief, Visa Control and Reporting at DOS, informed participants that he will likely retrogress India and China-mainland born Employment-Based Second Preference priority dates to around August 2007, effective with either the May or June 2012 Visa Bulletin. He also advised that he projects that all EB-1 visas available in FY2012 will be used this year, resulting in no “spilldown” to EB-2.

Congress sets limits on the number of immigrant visas that can be issued each year. In order to adjust status to that of legal permanent resident, an immigrant visa must be available to the applicant both at the time of filing and at the time of adjudication. The Department of State publishes a monthly Visa Bulletin which lists the cut-off dates that govern visa availability. Therefore, the monthly Visa Bulletin determines which applicants are eligible to file for adjustment of status, as well as which applicants are eligible for a grant of permanent resident status. Applicants who have a priority date earlier than the cut-off date published in the most current Visa Bulletin are eligible to apply for permanent residence.

The cut-off dates on the Department of State Visa Bulletin are adjusted monthly and are posted on its website at http://travel.state.gov. This adjustment is determined by the Department of State after consideration of a number of variables such as: