February 2016 Priority Dates; Predictions of Future Visa Availability
PRIORITY DATES AND PREDICTIONS OF FUTURE VISA AVAILABILITY
Each month, the U.S. Department of State publishes its Visa Bulletin, in which it establishes cut-off dates in each immigration category, for each nationality. The recently released Visa Bulletin for February 2016 shows a better than expected advancement for EB-2 India, and a continued imbalance between EB-2 and EB-3 China.
WHAT IS A PRIORITY DATE?
PRIORITY DATES/ IMMIGRANT VISA AVAILABILITY AS OF FEBRUARY 1, 2016:
PREDICTIONS OF FUTURE VISA AVAILABILITY Courtesy of the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA). AILA InfoNet Doc. No. 14071401 (posted
January 28, 2016). The information below is based on the discussion between Mr. Charlie Oppenheim of the Department of State’s Visa Office (VO) and AILA’s Liaison Committee regarding current visa demand and projections in various categories. It is important to note that all projections, including those noted in the Visa Bulletin, are subject to change depending on demand that is reported by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) and the U.S. Department of State (DOS) in real time.
As Mr. Oppenheim predicted in November, EB-2 India has shown aggressive advancement, with the cut-off date standing at August 1, 2008 as of February 1. Mr. Oppenheim indicates several possibilities for this occurrence: 1) that this is the result of decreased demand in this preference category, possibly attributable to fewer EB-3 to EB-2 “upgrades” than previously anticipated; 2) perhaps the recent advancement of the category has sufficiently satisfied a large portion of the current demand for EB-2 India; or 3) USCIS’ recent efforts to process the current backlog of EB-2 cases may be creating the appearance of decreased demand. Mr. Oppenheim predicts that the rate of cut-off date advancement for EB-2 India will begin to decrease over the next several months.
EB-2 and EB- 3 China
The imbalance of EB-2 and EB-3 China continues in the February Visa Bulletin, as the cut-off date of EB-2 stands at March 1, 2012, seven months behind that of the EB-3 China cut-off date of October 1, 2012. Mr. Oppenheim foresees a rebalancing of the cut-off dates for these two categories in the coming months due to an anticipated flood of “downgrade” requests.
Department of State’s Annual Report of Immigrant Visa Applicants
On January 8, 2016, the Department of State released its Annual Report of Immigrant Visa Applicants (i.e. individuals applying for permanent residency via consular processing at a US Embassy/Consulate abroad). The report (with all data current as of November 1, 2015) contained a breakdown of the total number of immigrant visa applicants in each preference category within both the family-based and employment-based preferences. The report showed a 2.9 percent increase in the amount of family-based applicants between 2014 and 2015 and a 10.8 percent annual increase in employment-based cases (including a 27.1 percent increase in EB-1 applicants and a 36.5 percent increase in EB-2 applicants). While Mr. Oppenheim would like to see similar data provided by USCIS, at this time he is not aware of any efforts by USCIS to provide a similar report of pending Adjustment of Status applicants.