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Updates on Visa Bulletin for February 2015

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Recently, the Visa Bulletin for February 2015 was released by the U.S. Department of State, summarizing the availability of immigrant numbers during the month of February. As expected, there continues to be modest movement in most retrogressed employment-based categories. The Visa Bulletin also provided projections for visa availability and potential monthly movements of cut-off dates in the upcoming months for employment-based categories. Please note that numbers are available only for applicants whose priority date is earlier than the cut-off date listed below.

In addition, in early January, Charles Oppenheim, Chief of the Visa Control and Reporting Division, U.S. Department of State, provided monthly analysis and predictions for visa availability. We summarize the Visa Bulletin and Mr. Oppenheim’s comments below:

EB-1 (Priority Workers): The category is current and should remain current with visa numbers available for all qualified applicants.

EB-2 (Members of the Professions Holding Advanced Degrees or Persons of Exceptional Ability): The category remains current for all countries except India and China-mainland. The cut-off date for China-mainland is March 15, 2010. Surprisingly, India moves forward more than six months to September 1, 2005.

The earlier than usual forward movement for India may be due in part to President Obama’s proposed Executive Action. Mr. Oppenheim anticipates that Executive Action may use significant USCIS resources in the latter half of the fiscal year, so the Department of State is advancing priority dates earlier to ensure the agencies have sufficient time to process cases and use all visa numbers.

The cut-off date for EB-2 China-mainland is expected to move forward 3 to 6 weeks each month. EB-2 India is expected to move forward 4 to 6 months. As EB-3 India applicants continue to “upgrade,” Mr. Oppenheim anticipates that EB-2 India may advance into the summer of 2009 by the September 2015 visa bulletin.

EB-3 (Skilled Workers, Professionals, and Other Workers): The cut-off date for China-mainland moves forward six months to September 1, 2011. India moves forward one week to December 22, 2003. The cut-off date for all other countries moves forward seven months to January 1, 2014.

Mr. Oppenheim expects rapid forward movement for China-mainland and all countries except India. Such movement is likely to result in a dramatic increase in demand, which could require “corrective” action within the next six months. The intention of the current movement is to build up demand. Once there are sufficient I-485 and consular processing cases in the adjudication queue, the cut-off date will retrogress. India will move up to two weeks.

EB-3 China-mainland is in a special situation, as it will be 17 months ahead of EB-2 China-mainland, which may result in a significant number of “downgrades.” Mr. Oppenheim indicated that the EB-3 China-mainland cut-off date may move into 2012, but he does not foresee it catching up to the worldwide cut-off date. He expects the sharp increase in EB-3 China-mainland demand will necessitate retrogression.

EB-5 (Employment Creation): All numbers are available for all qualified applicants. The expected increase in China-mainland born demand would require the establishment of a cut-off date for such applicants no later than the summer months. Mr. Oppenheim currently expects a cut-off date in summer 2013 as the worst case scenario, and he continues to gather data from USCIS and the U.S. Consulate in Guangzhou.

These projections indicate what is expected to happen on a monthly basis through May based on current applicant demand patterns. However, we should never assume that recent trends in cut-off date movements are guaranteed for the future, or that “corrective” action will not be required at some point.

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