Thursday, July 28, 2016
The unveiling of the August Visa Bulletin leads us to contemplate possible Final Action Date movement for September, the final month of the fiscal year. The August Visa Bulletin helps us to consider predictions for September and prospects for recovery in key retrogressed preference categories in Fiscal Year (FY) 2017.
EB-4 and Certain Religious Worker (SR) Preference Categories. The January 1, 2010 cut-off date which was imposed earlier this year for EB-4 El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Mexico will remain through September, the end of the fiscal year. The imposition of a cut-off date for these countries is largely due to high demand for Special Immigrant Juvenile visas. A January 1, 2010 cut-off date will also be imposed on EB-4 India starting in August, consistent with DOS’s predictions.
Though EB-4 Mexico and EB-4 India will become current again in October, the prospects for a full recovery for EB-4 El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras are much less likely. A 2015 cut-off date will likely be established in these categories for October, with date(s) moving forward slowly through the next fiscal year. However, uncertainty surrounding the movement of the EB-4 Final Action dates for these Central American countries remains, given the lack of visibility into the number of adjustment of status filings that were received in April 2015, prior to the establishment of the cut-off date in May.
Family-Based Projections. In September, most of the family-based categories will likely hold or retrogress from where they are in August. Only F-4 Worldwide has the potential to advance in September. DOS expects a full recovery from retrogressions in all of the family-based categories in October, with the exception of F-4 China and F-4 India which will take some time. Beginning in November 2015, beneficiaries of F-4 China and F-4 India started responding to NVC Agent of Choice letters in larger numbers, which has given DOS better visibility into the demand in these categories, but ultimately resulted in the retrogression of these cut-off dates.
Many applicants “respond,” to the Agent of Choice letter but fail to take the required steps to become “documentarily qualified,” resulting in an interview. A “response” keeps the case active, even if the applicant has no intention of immigrating in the foreseeable future. For reasons unknown, F-4 China and India, as well as others in the family preference categories, decided to act. A similar phenomenon happened in 2009/2010: Applicants were not responding, demand appeared low, and cut-off dates advanced quite rapidly. Then, beginning in September 2010, a large number of applicants who had been eligible for extended periods of time suddenly started becoming documentarily qualified. That influx of demand resulted in retrogression of most of the family-based dates by February 2011.
F-4 China, which previously shared the F-4 Worldwide Final Action date until retrogressing in June to January 1, 2003, will remain at that cut-off date through August. While this category will not advance in September, there should be a full recovery to the prior Final Action date of July 22, 2003 by November.
Similarly, F-4 India also shared the F-4 Worldwide Final Action date until it retrogressed in June. DOS continues to predict that the Final Action date for F-4 India will remain at January 1, 2001 through September. A full recovery of this category to the Worldwide level will not happen in October. Given the high level of demand, the Final Action date should advance to around November 2002 in October, with a full recovery unlikely to happen prior to June 2017.
DOS will be watching the F-2A and F-3 preference categories very carefully. Both categories are likely to retrogress temporarily in September, and then return to their respective August 2015 Final Action dates in October.
EB Preference Categories. The Final Action date of January 1, 2010 that was imposed in June for both EB-2 and EB-3 China remains the same in August with no forward movement in either of these categories expected this fiscal year. Although DOS had hoped for more dramatic forward movement, EB-3 India should advance modestly into a 2015 Final Action date in September. EB-2 India will continue to track one week ahead of the EB-3 India Final Action date in September.
EB-3 Worldwide has been hovering close to “current” for some time, and is expected to do so through at least October.
A February 1, 2014 Final Action date for EB-2 Worldwide was imposed in the August Visa Bulletin, with the hope of holding number use to within the EB-2 annual limit. That date should hold at February 1, 2014 in September and is expected to fully recover to “current” in October. Although DOS predicts the EB-2 India and EB-2 China cut-off dates will advance in October, they will not fully recover at that time. It is hoped that they will recover fully as soon as possible, with EB-2 China possibly recovering as early as November.
October Final Action dates for the EB-5 Regional Center categories remain uncertain as that category will sunset unless Congress acts prior to the end of the fiscal year. In setting cut-off dates for EB-1 China and EB-1 India, DOS hoped to avoid having to establish a cut-off date for EB-1 Worldwide. DOS expects that EB-1 China and EB-1 India will become current again in October, or November at the latest.
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