In this blog post, we provide new insights recently shared by Charlie Oppenheim, the former Chief of Immigrant Visa Control and Reporting at the U.S. Department of State, who oversaw the monthly publication of the Visa Bulletin until his retirement in 2022.
The Dates for Filing for the employment based and family sponsored preference categories have remained the same since the publication of the October Visa Bulletin with no forward movement to be seen.
In the month of February, the Final Action Dates progressed only slightly as follows:
- EB-2 Worldwide advanced by two weeks to November 15, 2022
- EB-3 India advanced by one month to July 1, 2012
- EB-3 all other countries advanced by one month to September 1, 2022 (except China)
- EB-5 China (Unreserved) advanced by one week to December 15, 2015.
- F2A all categories (except Mexico) advanced by more than 3 months to February 8, 2020
- F2A Mexico advanced by more than 3 months to February 1, 2020
Looking Ahead: Visa Bulletin Outlook
Will USCIS discontinue the use of the Dates for Filing Chart in the future?
Every month, USCIS decides whether they will use the Final Action Dates (Chart A) or Dates for Filing (Chart B) to determine when applicants can file their adjustment of status applications. This applies only to applicants who are residing and filing their green card applications inside the United States.
After the release of the February Visa Bulletin, USCIS announced it would accept employment-based and family-sponsored applications for adjustment of status (green cards inside the United States) from foreign nationals with a priority date that is earlier than the Dates for Filing listed in the February 2024 Visa Bulletin.
Charlie has said that the major thing to consider here is that USCIS will only allow the Dates for Filing Chart (Chart B) to be used for a specified period of time. Based on past performance, Charlie Oppenheim believes there is an excellent chance that USCIS will end the use of the Dates for Filing Chart (Chart B) for adjustment of status filings beginning in the month of March, and certainly by April.
That means that it will be very important for those eligible, to file their adjustment of status applications during February, considering that USCIS already announced that the Dates for Filing (Chart B) will be used.
Charlie has said that in past years, between January and March of the fiscal year, USCIS has announced that they will no longer allow the Dates for Filing chart (Chart B) to be used for early filing.
He reminds applicants that the goal of the Dates for Filing chart (Chart B) is to allow applicants to begin submitting certain required documentation and for their case to start being processed by USCIS, so that when the applicant’s priority date becomes current for Final Action in the 8th to 12th month time period, it can be finalized in that particular month, instead of making the applicant wait until that time to actually submit anything.
February 2024 Visa Bulletin Employment-Based Dates for Filing (Chart B)
All Dates for Filing in Chart B of the February Visa Bulletin are being held in the employment-based categories.
Charlie expects the employment Dates for Filing in Chart B to hold (remain the same) until the summer months, unless the State Department sees that the amount of petitions actually being filed drops below their expectation.
The Department of States may advance these dates at some point in the summer months in order to start generating demand for fiscal 2025, or if they are seeing that their previous projections are not producing a sufficient amount of demand.
Employment-Based Final Action Trends for all Chargeability and Rest of World
Charlie believes that the slight movement of EB-2 Rest of World in the February Visa Bulletin Final Action Dates is a positive sign. We may be lucky to see some slow forward movement in the Rest of World employment based second and third (EB2 and EB-3) Final Action dates in the coming months.
With that being said, he sees no reason to believe that EB-2 and EB-3 Rest of World will be current again in the foreseeable future. He would expect this to be the case throughout the remainder of FY 2024 and most likely for a considerable amount, if not all of FY 2025.
Charlie predicts that Philippines EB-2 will remain at the Worldwide date. He thinks there is an excellent chance that Philippines EB-3 Final Action Date will fall behind Rest of World, so there could be a separate earlier date listed for Philippines EB-3 by the end of the fiscal year. Hopefully that will not be the case, but increasing levels of EB3 Philippines demand may result in that.
China Employment-Based Final Action Trend
The Final Action dates for China have been held, with no movement. If the Department of State sees that there wasn’t as much demand as expected, they could advance the dates later in the quarter.
India Employment-Based Final Action Trend
EB-3 India was one of the few employment-based categories that advanced in the February Visa Bulletin. Charlie does not expect similar movement in the coming months for EB-3 India.
Charlie believes this slight advancement was made to jumpstart the processing of cases and determine whether estimates of number use in the EB-3 preference are going to be accurate based on the Final Action date they have set. Depending on the result, the Department of State may need to take some other type of action.
Potentially EB3 could advance slightly throughout the remainder of the year, but not by very much, and maybe none at all in most months moving forward.
Charlie’s Predictions for Employment Based Final Action Date Movement
EB-1 All Chargeability: Current
EB-1 China: 3 or 4 weeks+
EB-1 India: 2 or 3 weeks+
EB-2 All Chargeability: 1 or 2 weeks+
EB-2 China: 2 or 3 weeks+
EB-2 India: 1 or 2 weeks+
EB-3 All Chargeability: 2 or 3 weeks+
EB-3 China: 5 or 6 weeks+
EB-3 India: None to +1 week
The movements outlined above are those that Charlie would expect to see on an average basis for the employment-based Final Action Dates between now and September.
Certain categories may not experience forward movement at all, for instance for India EB-3 there could be no movement of the category up to potentially one week of movement.
For the India and China employment-based preference categories, there is so much pending demand based on earlier filings from FY 2023 that they can tap into. The State Department can decide to take their time and wait until the summer months when they have built up a large enough supply of numbers to evaluate whether they can potentially advance the Final Action Dates during the summer months to reach the annual limits.
On the positive side, if there are unused family sponsored numbers under the annual limits for a particular country, they can fall down and be added to the numbers available for that country in the employment categories.
China – Potential for unused Family Sponsored numbers and Movement
In terms of China, based on what Charlie has seen for family sponsored number use in October and November, he thinks there is an excellent chance that potentially thousands of numbers of unused China family members may fall down and allow the China dates to move at a faster pace at some point. Charlie believes there could be a 25 or 50% increase in the movement. But this will all depend on how many numbers are likely to fall down.
Charlie has said that the number use totals for October and November were extremely low in comparison to the amount that could have been used in those months.
February Visa Bulletin Family Sponsored Dates for Filing
Unfortunately, there has been no movement in the Family Sponsored Dates for Filing Chart since the October 2024 Visa Bulletin.
Charlie would not be surprised if the dates continue being held. The Department of State may start advancing them in the summer months so that they can generate family sponsored demand if they feel it’s necessary for processing in FY 2025.
February Visa Bulletin Family Sponsored Final Action Dates
There was a bit of movement in the F2A category. Charlie believes that the F2A category will continue to advance. The Final Action Date for F2A was current from about July 2019 and remained current for an extended period of time.
Based on a viewer’s question, he believes other than F2A Mexico, there is an excellent chance that the F2A Final Action Dates may reach July 2022 by the end of FY 2024 probably closer to the summer months. If petitioners become U.S. Citizens, their beneficiaries would become immediate relatives which will make more numbers available, and further advancement of the category through the summer.
Charlie expects some future advancement of the Final Action dates for the other family-based categories or at least the rest of the world to start advancing in the coming months.
March Visa Bulletin: more of the same?
Charlie believes that movement of the dates may become more regular in April and beyond. The Department of State may have been holding the dates for the first two quarters which started in October and January, in an effort to gauge what is happening in terms of visa number usage.
As we do every month, we will keep you updated on the upcoming movement and changes in the Visa Bulletin right here on our blog.
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