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.)

Friday, January 18, 2019

Visa Bulletin Predictions through May 2019 and Beyond


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 to AILA. The following are his most important insights (edited version) effective through May 2019 following the publication of the February 2019 Visa Bulletin.


Expected Movement in February


(1) Family-Based Preference Categories:

The family-based categories continue to have slow and steady movement of up to 1.5 months, except FB-1 Mexico, FB-3 Mexico and FB-4 Mexico, all of which maintain their Final Action Dates for the month of February.
Date for Filing for FB-4 Philippines leaps forward by almost one year. Eligible applicants should take this opportunity to file as soon as possible. This lull in demand could attract an influx of applications and result in a volatile Final Action Date.

(2) Employment-Based Preference Categories:

India EB-3 Overtakes EB-2 (First Time Ever!)

EB-3 India finally overtook EB-2 India in February 2019 by two weeks. According to Charlie, this is because lower demand for EB-3 Worldwide. The gap may narrow due to future downgrading of cases from EB-2 to EB-3.  
As of now, however, the anticipated forward movement through May 2019 for EB-2 India is “up to one week” in contrast to the “up to three months” movement expected in EB-3 India. Based on current demand trends, the Dates for Filing for EB-2 India is May 22, 2009, in contrast with the EB-3 India Date for Filing of April 1, 2010. 

EB-2 China is still ahead of EB-3

The Final Action Date for EB-2 China advances two months to October 1, 2015, and remains ahead of EB-3 China, which advances only three weeks to July 1, 2015. That is not expected to change through May 2019, with EB-2 China expected to advance monthly “up to three months” in contrast with “up to three weeks” of movement for EB-3 China. However, the potential for a future “flip” of these two categories remains possible as according the February 2019 bulletin, the Dates for Filing for EB-2 China will be November 1, 2015, compared to January 1, 2016 for EB-3 China.
Charlie expects that dates for EB-2 China will start to move forward more rapidly to generate additional demand. More numbers have already been issued for EB-3 China in the first 15 days of January than throughout the entire month of December.

EB-1:

In February, the Final Action Date for EB-1 Worldwide advances two months to December 1, 2017. EB-1 China and EB-1 India advance 8 weeks to February 8, 2017.
Charlie believes the imposition of cutoff dates in the EB-1 category will become “the new normal.”  Gone are the days when one can expect EB-1 visas to be always available.  For example, according to Charlie, USCIS statistics show that there is sufficient EB-1 demand to reach the annual limits this year, which means that EB-1 Worldwide will not likely return to “current” status this fiscal year. 
EB-1 China and EB-1 India numbers are being used up quickly, but Charlie believes that EB-1 dates will advance again, with EB-1 Worldwide advancing up to two months, and EB-1 China and EB-1 India advancing up to one month.

EB-3 Philippines:

The Final Action Date for EB-3 Philippines advances 6 weeks to August 1, 2017. Demand in this category is below target demand. But Charlie recommends that applicants should file their visa applications as soon as possible before regression occurs. 




Potential Monthly Movement through May 2019


(1) Family-Based Preference Categories:

Worldwide dates (except oversubscribed countries):
FB-1: Up to 5 weeks
FB-2A: Up to 1 month
FB-2B: Up to 2 months
FB-3: Up to 2 weeks
FB-4: Up to 6 weeks

(2) Employment-Based Preference Categories:

Employment First (EB-1):
Worldwide: Up to 2 months
China and India: Up to 1 month
Employment Second (EB-2):
Worldwide: Current for the foreseeable future
China: Up to 3 months
Employment Third (EB-3):
Worldwide: Current
China: Up to 3 weeks
India: Up to 3 months
Mexico: Current
Philippines: Rapid movement to generate demand
Employment Fourth (EB-4):
Worldwide: Current
El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras: Up to 1 week
Mexico: Rapid forward movement until per country limit is reached
Employment Fifth (EB-5):
Worldwide: Current
China-mainland born: Up to 1 week
Vietnam: Up to 3 weeks

Charlie does not anticipate institution of a Final Action Date for EB-2 Worldwide during FY19, subject to any changes in demand in visas by USCIS.  


Scheduled Expiration of EB-4 SR and EB-5 (I5 and R5)

According to Charlies: "Reauthorization of the EB-4 Religious Workers (SR) and EB-5 (I5 and R5) categories are currently impacted by the partial government shutdown. Until these categories are reauthorized by Congress, they remain unavailable."  
"Unless the post or National Visa Center cancels an already scheduled interview, Charlie advises that EB-4 SR and EB-5 (I5 and R5) applicants plan to attend their interviews. This will allow the visa number to be requested once the category is reauthorized."

More Employment-based Applicants choose Consular Processing:  Charlie observes that there has been an increase in  overseas consular processing of employment-based visa cases, probably due to the uncertainty of adjustment interviews in the U.S.   There has been a 5% increase in consular processing of employment-based cases this fiscal year in comparison to last fiscal year.  

(Source: AILA Doc. No. 14071401)

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