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NPZ Immigration Law Blog

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

DOS UPDATE: VISA BULLETIN FOR JANUARY 2017


EB-4 EL SALVADOR, GUATEMALA, HONDURAS AND MEXICO. DOS continues to observe huge demand in the EB-4 category, especially with respect to El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Mexico. As previously reported, this is largely due to demand for Special Immigrant Juvenile (SIJS) visas from these countries.

As noted in the January 2017 Visa Bulletin, the final action dates for these categories may retrogress at some point this fiscal year. When asked when this might occur, DOS stated that the lack of visibility into USCIS demand in these categories makes it difficult to predict. It is unclear whether the high usage is attributable to a one-time clearing out of SIJS-based I-485 cases which had retrogressed briefly at the end of the last fiscal year, or whether there are still large numbers of cases with early priority dates pending at USCIS.

PRACTICAL CONSIDERATION: As forward movement is not expected in the foreseeable future, it would be prudent for individuals in these categories to wait for their priority dates to become current before obtaining a medical exam.

EB-4 NUMBER USAGE AND PER COUNTRY LIMITS. As of mid-December, Mexico has almost reached its EB-4 per country annual limit, and EB-4 El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras has used approximately 75 percent of their available numbers. Though these countries will benefit from additional "otherwise unused numbers" from other countries, because there is significant (combined) demand from other countries, those numbers are likely to be smaller than in prior years.

India has used more than 40 percent of its EB-4 per-country limit, attributable to EB-4 religious workers as well as some SIJS. If usage continues at this pace, DOS expects that a final action cut-off date will need to be imposed for EB-4 India at some point in the spring or summer months.

EB-1. Based on current demand, DOS continues to predict that a final action cut-off date will need to be imposed for EB-1 India and EB-1 China later this fiscal year.

EB-2. DOS expects to impose a final action cut-off date for EB-2 Worldwide at some point due to sizeable demand across the board in this category. Pent-up demand from cases that otherwise would have been approvable in August and September last fiscal year are partly responsible for this surge in demand, as are EB-3 India upgrades.

China has already exceeded its EB-2 quarterly limit, so there is unlikely to be any major forward movement in this category.

DOS continues to hope that EB-2 India will recover to the November 22, 2008 final action date from May 2015. However, EB-3 upgrades could negatively impact that recovery.

EB-3. EB-3 Worldwide demand has dropped a bit, which allowed DOS to advance this category a bit in January. At some point, when EB-2 Worldwide becomes subject to a final action cut-off date, the public may see an EB-3 downgrade phenomenon which, to this point, has only been seen with regard to China.

EB-5. EB-5 China should continue to advance, but is expected to do so very slowly, up to a few weeks at a time. DOS reports huge demand for EB-5 Worldwide. Historically, China captured 80 percent of the available numbers in this category, whereas last year, China's share of EB-5 Worldwide dropped to 75 percent.

WHEN ASKED THE QUESTION: Do you have any projections regarding the expected progress for the "final action" date in the F-4 category for MEXICO over the next few months?

DOS RESPONDED: In January, the final action date for F-4 Mexico will be May 15, 1997. Applicants should plan for slow forward movement over the coming months. There is a fair amount of demand in this category so the public is not likely to see it advance up to two weeks at a time. This may present itself in an alternating pattern in which there is no movement one month but two weeks' movement the following month. Actual movement will depend upon the level of demand in this category at different priority dates.

In other family-based categories, DOS reports that F-4 China and F-4 India should continue to move along steadily.

For more information, or to speak to one of the immigration and nationality lawyers or attorneys at the Nachman, Phulwani Zimovcak (NPZ) Law Group, P.C., please feel free to e-mail us at info@visaserve.com or to call us at 201-670-0006 (x107).

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