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Immigrant Visas — December 2016 Priority Dates; Predictions of Future Visa Availability

20:29 02 December in News Updates
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DECEMBER 2016

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 December 2016 shows slight forward movement in some categories but overall not much significant movement from the previous month.  All EB-1 categories remain current (for now), EB-3 China remains almost 10 months ahead of EB-2 China, and EB-2 categories continue to show heavy demand across the board. 

WHAT IS A PRIORITY DATE?

PRIORITY DATES/ IMMIGRANT VISA AVAILABILITY AS OF DECEMBER 1, 2016: https://travel.state.gov/content/visas/en/law-and-policy/bulletin/2017/visa-bulletin-for-december-2016.html

PREDICTIONS OF FUTURE VISA AVAILABILITY:    Courtesy of the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA).  AILA InfoNet Doc. No. 14071401 (posted November 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.

EB-2 and EB-3 China

  • The cut-off date for EB-2 China advances more than 2 months in December, from July 15, 2012 to September 22, 2012. However, the EB-3 China cut-off remains well ahead of the EB-2 China category, also advancing 2.5 months, from April 15, 2013 to July 1, 2013.  Mr. Oppenheim anticipates the gap to begin closing between these two categories however is unsure how long it will take to see a full rebalancing.  He indicates that EB-3 is being held back slightly in anticipation of EB-3 “downgrades,” however it they don’t materialize it is possible that EB-3 China may even advance at a faster pace in months to come.

High EB-2 Demand

  • EB-2 India advances its cut-off date by 3 months in December, from November 1, 2007 to February 1, 2008.  Mr. Oppenheim indicates that EB-3 “upgrades” are creating high demand for EB-2 India and while he still feels that the cut-off date can reach 2009 levels by the end of the fiscal year, movement may be slow over the coming months as EB-2 Worldwide is also showing a high level of demand, limiting the possibility of transferring unused visa numbers to relieve some pressure in the EB-2 India category.  Mr. Oppenheim also notes that demand is high for EB-2 Mexico and EB-2 Philippines as well, and indicates that cut-off dates may need to be imposed for EB-2 Worldwide, EB-2 Mexico and EB-2 Philippines before the end of the fiscal year, possibly as soon as July.

EB-1 India and China

  • Further limiting the prospects of significant EB-2 advancements is the current high level of EB-1 demand (which reduces the likelihood that unused EB-1 visa numbers can be reallocated to relieve EB-2 demand).  Mr. Oppenheim points out the EB-1 India has already exceeded its annual usage limit, and EB-1 China is close to reaching its limit as well.  In Fiscal Year 2016, all EB-1 categories remained current until August, when cut-off dates were imposed on EB-1 India and EB-1 China.  Mr. Oppenheim anticipates that a cut-off date will be imposed on these categories much sooner this year, though he doesn’t offer an estimate as to when those cut-off dates may be imposed.

Should you have any questions regarding the above, please do not hesitate to contact your LAC attorney.

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