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.)

Saturday, September 23, 2017

Visa Bulletin Predictions by Charles Oppenheim - October 2017 and Onward

Every month after the release 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 his most important insights following the publication of the October 2017 Visa Bulletin:  

EB-1 China and EB-1 India. These categories will become current again in October. USCIS has reported a significant amount of pre-adjudicated demand for these categories which will be eligible for final processing in October. These categories are expected to remain current for the foreseeable future, although a final action date will likely again be imposed at some point later in the fiscal year.

EB-2 Worldwide. As anticipated, this category becomes current again on October 1, and should remain current for the foreseeable future.

EB-2 India. The fiscal year starts with a final action date of September 15, 2008 for EB-2 India and is expected to advance at a pace of up to one month at a time. It is hoped that the final action date will reach early 2009 at some point in the next calendar year. The biggest factor impacting forward movement for EB-2 India will continue to be demand for EB-3 to EB-2 upgrades. Recently, up to half of the monthly target has been used by these upgrades.

EB-3 India. The final action date for EB-3 India remains at October 15, 2006 as we start the fiscal year, and is likely to hold steady in November, with some movement possible in December. The reason this date is holding steady despite the influx of new visa numbers at the start of the fiscal year is that the date has already been advanced knowing that many September cases would likely require updates which may not allow final action to occur prior to September 30. Such cases would then be identified and returned to the Visa Office, so that they could be available for October use, by which time the required information should be received. The numbers that were "reallocated" to October exceeded the desired target, preventing any forward movement of the date.

EB-2 China and EB-3 China. EB-3 China will start the fiscal year with a final action date of January 1, 2014, which is almost eight months ahead of EB-2 China's final action date of May 22, 2013. Even with the advancement of EB-3 China, Charlie is not fully utilizing the monthly target in an effort to avoid a drastic retrogression later this fiscal year as a result of increased demand. This situation is once again ripe for EB-2 to EB-3 downgrades resulting in the demand Charlie is expecting. EB-2 China's modest advancement is attributable to material demand and a desire to maintain steady though limited forward movement through the fiscal year.

EB-3 Worldwide. EB-3 Worldwide's final action date, which became current in August, continues to remain current in October and is expected to remain so for the foreseeable future.

EB-3 Philippines. The final action date for EB-3 Philippines advances one month to December 1, 2015 in October and may advance up to two months at a time as we enter the new fiscal year.

EB-5 China. The final action date for EB-5 China advances one week to June 22, 2014 in October and will continue to advance at a pace of up to one week at a time.

Family-Based Categories. The final action dates for Mexico will advance more quickly if demand does not start to materialize. There is also a low response rate in the Philippines family-based categories which may prompt more rapid advancement in order to generate demand.

Special Immigrants. As predicted, due to lower demand relative to the other countries, EB-4 Mexico has its own final action date of March 1, 2016, as compared to the November 1, 2015 final action date for EB-4 El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras. Charlie anticipates that EB-4 Mexico will continue to advance with only limited forward movement until demand picks up and approaches the per-country annual limit. EB-4 El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras could advance at a pace of up to three weeks at a time. Also as predicted, EB-4 India becomes current in October and will remain so until next spring or summer.

Would the new interview requirement result in fewer EB green cards being approved each year?
Charlie does not have a definite answer for this question.  He noted that 85 percent of the visa numbers used in most employment-based categories can be attributed to adjustment of status cases processed by USCIS. The State Department will continue to work closely with USCIS throughout the year to help ensure that the maximum numbers of visas that are available are utilized.

Have Diversity Visa (DV) numbers been exhausted? 
As long as a visa number had been requested by the processing office and allocated to the individual case, the case can proceed, notwithstanding a later determination that the annual limit has been reached. Once we estimate that all of the numbers available for use under the annual limit for a specific visa category will be used, no additional numbers may be provided for subsequent requests for numbers.

(AILA Doc. No. 14071401, 09/21/17)

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