A few day ago, the U.S. Department of State (DOS) released the December visa bulletin, which shows significant forward movement in the availability of immigrant visa numbers for individuals born in India and China in the Second Employment-Based preference category (EB-2) for individuals with advanced degrees. Foreign nationals born in India or China with an approved I-140 petition in the EB-2 category with a priority date of March 15, 2008 or earlier will be eligible to apply for the last step of the permanent residence beginning in December 2011. This represents forward progress in visa availability of four months from the November 2011 Visa Bulletin.
The Visa Bulletin, which the DOS releases each month, summarizes the availability of immigrant numbers based on employment- (or family-) based category, country of birth, and priority date. A foreign national cannot apply for permanent residence (a green card) until a visa is available based on their priority date, preference category, and country of birth.
The DOS has predicted that it is possible that immigrant visa availability could move forward again in the January and February 2012 Visa Bulletins, but then retrogress later in the year. Last year, according to the DOS, there were 3,000 EB-2 petitions filed on behalf of individuals born in India who already have priority dates established through EB-3 petitions. Because those individuals can use their previous EB-3 priority date for the EB-2 category, the movement in EB-2 numbers for India is likely to slow down.
For individuals born in India in the EB-3 category, there is not likely to be fast forward movement in visa availability. According to the DOS, there are approximately 54,000 cases pending from the summer of 2007 alone when visa numbers became current, allowing hundreds of thousands of people to apply for permanent residence, and then retrogressed soon thereafter. There are potentially 225,000-300,000 individuals, including dependents, in line in the EB-3 India category. Additionally, more than 50% of H-1B petitions filed each year are on behalf of Indian nationals, the majority of whom will establish priority dates and get in line for permanent residence. We suggest to file I-485 Adjustment applications as soon as possible for those with current dates.