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NPZ Immigration Law Blog

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Visa Office Update on Priority Dates and Demand - December 2013.


During a recent conversation with Charlie Oppenheim of the Department of State's Visa Office, the American Immigration Lawyers' Association (AILA) was provided the following information and updates regarding demand in the employment-based immigrant visa categories. Please note that these notes are based on Mr. Oppenheim's impressions at the time and are subject to change based on usage or new developments.

As of November 20, 2013 no additional EB-2 numbers will be allocated for EB-2 India adjustment of status applications for the rest of November. This means that no additional EB-2 India green cards can be approved with a priority date after November 2004 (the December Visa Bulletin's cutoff date), even though the November Visa Bulletin had not yet retrogressed. The November Visa Bulletin confirmed that as soon as retrogression was announced for December, it could take effect immediately.

The demand for India EB-2 visa numbers has been unprecedented. In fact from the 10th to the 20th of November, the Visa Office received requests for approximately 150 EB-2 India green card numbers per day from USCIS. The demand was so great, that the unusual action of cutting off the category during the month had to be taken. A majority of these requests were from "upgrades" where the beneficiary had established a priority date in the EB-3 category, and now qualified for EB-2.

It is very possible that in August or September 2014, the last two months of the 2014 fiscal year, EB-2 India will advance again to around December 2008. However, that is only an educated guess at this time. No exact date is certain.

In the last fiscal year, close to 15,000 EB-2 visa numbers were allocated to pending EB-2 India cases in August and September 2013, for cases that were pre-adjudicated by USCIS.

A number of factors will affect the forward movement of the category and the availability of extra visa numbers, for India EB-2 and other categories, between now and the end of the 2014 fiscal year:

1. Usage of visa numbers in the EB-1 category that would "drop down" to EB-2;
2. The number of EB-3 to EB-2 "upgrades" from Worldwide and other countries;
3. The number of EB-2 India visa numbers used for applicants with priority dates before November 2004; and
4. The fact that the total worldwide quota is about 8,000 visa numbers lower than the previous year.

The Worldwide EB-3 category moved forward a year in December because there does not appear to be very many of these applications currently pending with USCIS. As demand builds over the fiscal year, and more conclusions can be drawn from the number of pending cases, the EB-3 Worldwide category may retrogress during this fiscal year.

Of course, this clearly means that our clients and their friends and family members will want to look for alternatives to help avoid priority date backlogs. For example, all opportunities for seizing upon earlier priority dates should be explored. Also, one should consider the possible use of cross-chargeability. Other nuances exist that permit the possibility of being subject to extremely long backlogs and it is highly recommended that these issues be carefully explored with your Immigration Lawyer or Immigration Attorney.

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