A blog about U.S. immigration matters by Paul Szeto, a former INS attorney and an experienced immigration attorney and counsel. Contact Info: 732-632-9888, http://www.1visa1.com/ (All information is not legal advice and is subject to change without prior notice.)

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Visa Bulletin Predictions by DOS’s Charlie Oppenheim - May 2016 Onward

On April 13, 2016, the State Department's Charlie Oppenheim provided his monthly predictions and analysis through AILA following the publication of the May 2016 Visa Bulletin.  The following are the highlights:
EB-2 and EB-3 China Demand for EB-3 China visa numbers "has exploded" due to downgrades from EB-2.  Demand for EB-3 China numbers exceeded 400 in March alone. EB-2 China also spiked to 850 in March.  Charlie expects similar demand in April for both categories. As a result, retrogression of EB-2 and EB-3 China in June will be likely to control visa usage.  
EB-1 Demand and Impact to Other Categories: "EB-1 demand from USCIS increased almost 100 percent from February (2,500+) to March (5,000+) which reflects more than 95 percent of the EB-1 Worldwide demand. This spike leaves fewer numbers to potentially spill down to other categories, which will impact EB-2 final action dates. Members should expect that the EB categories that typically rely on unused EB-1 numbers, such as EB-2 India, will be impacted. It remains to be seen whether a cut-off date will need to be established for any EB-1 countries this fiscal year."

India Employment-Based Final Action Dates:  "EB-3 demand, after the initial allocation of numbers, has been increasing by 100 month over month from January to February and February to March."
"A number of factors make it difficult for Charlie to accurately predict movement in these categories. Increased EB-1 usage negatively impacts the supply of available visas for EB-2 India, and upgrades are currently driving EB-2 India demand. As a result of these two factors, there may be fewer numbers available to EB-2 India than previously expected."

Family-Based Visa Applications:   The cut-off dates for family-based categories are less "volatile" because most of the visa numbers are allocated in overseas countries.  DOS controls and keeps track of all overseas visa usage and hence is able to set the cut-off dates more accurately.   In contrast, employment-based cases are filed mostly within the U.S. through adjustment of status.  Charlie has limited visibility regarding USCIS usage of visa numbers.  Charlie warns that India's FB-4 final action date (siblings of U.S. citizens) will likely retrogress as early June due to an increase in demand. Similarly, China's FB-4 may also retrogress of put on hold in late summer. 
EB-4 Cut-offs:  EB-4 is for special immigrants such as certain religious workers.  In May, a final action date of January 1, 2010 will be instituted for EB-4 for El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras.   The reason is attributed to the spike in demand for visa numbers by Special Immigrant Juvenile (SIJS) applicants in the past two months.   Charlie also warns that it is "extremely likely that EB-4 India and Mexico will also oversubscribed at some point during the summer months" (and hence cut-off dates will be imposed). 
EB-5 China:  Charlie explains that he has good visibility into this visa category.  Demand in this category is still increasing, but processing of the visa petitions have also kept up in pace. Hence, the final action date will also advance accordingly.
EB-2 and EB-3 Philippines:  EB-2 Philippines will be current "for the foreseeable future." Regarding EB-3 Philippines, the final action date will likely advance a few months at a time. Charlie does not expect that it will  return to the Worldwide final action date this fiscal year.
"Currently, the Texas Service Center has more than 1,600 EB-3 Philippines cases in the pending demand file and the Nebraska Service Center has more than 1,200. Demand at the U.S. Consulate in Manila is about half of that at USCIS. Charlie hopes that the EB-3 Philippines final action date will advance as far as mid-2010 by the end of this fiscal year."
(Source: AILA Doc. No. 14071401)

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