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, October 4, 2016

Visa Bulletin Predictions by DOS’s Charlie Oppenheim - October 2016

Every month after the publication of the monthly visa bulletin, DOS Visa Office Chief Mr. Charlie Oppenheim would provide his insights on the trends, movements, predictions, etc., regarding the usage of immigrant visa numbers.  The following are the highlights of his insight following the publication of the October 2016 Visa Bulletin

EB-1 China and India:  In October, the EB-1 final action date for all countries has returned to current. Charles expects high usage in these categories in October, given the previous month's backlog.  EB-1 India and China can be expected to remain current for the foreseeable future. Charlie will continue monitor this category closely during the second half of the fiscal year if demand remains high.

EB-2 and EB-3 Categories: As predicted, EB-2 Worldwide has become current in October and ahead of EB-3 Worldwide which has a final action date of June 1, 2016. EB-2 Worldwide usage will be high in October. Charlie believes a cut-off date is not likely during the first half of the fiscal year. 

EB-2 and EB-3 China:  Consistent with Charlie's predictions, in October, EB-2 China has a final action date of February 15, 2012, almost one year behind EB-3 China's final action date of January 23, 2013. Thus, the EB-3 downgrade phenomenon should once again be expected for FY2017. Charlie hopes to keep the final action dates for EB-2 and EB-3 China as close to one another as possible.

EB-2 and EB-3 India:  The final action date for EB-2 India has advanced to January 15, 2007 in October, as previously predicted.  Charlie expects this category will advance at a pace of up to four months at a time. Slower movements of up to a week at a time are anticipated for EB-3 India. Visa usage for EB-3 India is expected to be high in October, which will decrease the amount of numbers Charlie can allocate in November and December and slow the advancement of this category.

EB-3 Philippines:  Final action date is December 1, 2010 in October. Charlie expects this category to initially move up to three weeks per month. He hopes that the final action date will move through 2011 as soon as possible and that it will be well into 2013 by the end of the fiscal year.

EB-4 and Certain Religious Worker (SR) Preference Categories:  As predicted last month, the final action dates for EB-4 India and EB-4 Mexico are current again in October and the priority dates for EB-4 El Salvador/Guatemala/Honduras have advanced to June 15, 2015. While Charlie considered establishing a separate final action date for Guatemala and Honduras due to the higher demand for numbers from El Salvador, all three countries are expected to exceed the per country limitation and rely on the availability of "otherwise unused" EB-4 numbers. Thus, Charlie confirmed that the three countries will continue to be reported together throughout FY 2017.

It is expected that EB-4 India and EB-4 Mexico will remain current for the foreseeable future, until at least late spring, early summer 2017. EB-4 El Salvador/Guatemala/Honduras is expected to advance modestly, by no more than two months at a time in a best case scenario. Charlie notes that there is likely more demand in this category at USCIS to which he does not yet have visibility, so his predictions may change depending on the rate at which such demand begins to materialize.

EB-4 religious workers are unavailable in October, pending congressional action to reauthorize the program beyond September 30, 2016. Should that occur, El Salvador/Guatemala/Honduras would be subject to a June 15, 2015 final action date, and all other countries would be current.

EB-5 China:  EB-5 China non-regional centers have a final action date of February 22, 2015 in October. EB-5 China regional centers will be "unavailable" in October pending Congressional reauthorization of the program beyond September 30, 2016. Should this category be reauthorized, the final action date will be set at February 22, 2014. So as not to completely halt visa processing in October, State has set tentative IV appointments for the second half of October, which will be remain scheduled in the event that Congress reauthorizes the program.

Family-Based Projections:  In October, the final action date for F-2A is December 22, 2014 for all countries except F-2A Mexico, which is December 1, 2014. F-2A and F-2B Worldwide is expected to advance up to one month per month.  As has been the case during FY 2016, F-2A Mexico is expected to lag behind the rest of the world by about 3 weeks for the rest of the fiscal year. China and India's final action dates track those for the rest of world in all family-based categories with the exception of F-4. Charlie expects F-4 China to catch up to the final action date for F-4 Worldwide within three to four months. The F-4 India final action date will advance into 2013 for November, but unlike F-4 China, will remain behind F-4 Worldwide for the foreseeable future.

Application Filing Dates:  Given higher levels of demand in relation to the expected availability of numbers during FY 2017, the Application Filing Dates in several categories, such as EB-5 China and EB-2 India, have retrogressed. Readers should also refer to USCIS's website as to whether it will honor the Application Filing Dates for I-485 applications.

(Source: AILA Doc. No. 14071401)

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