On March 9th, 2017, the Department of State released the April 2017 Visa Bulletin. EB-1 India and China have already surpassed their per country limits of 2,800 visas, with EB-1 India using more than 9,000 numbers, and EB-1 China using more than 4,500 numbers. DOS is watching these categories very carefully. As the availability of "otherwise unused" numbers diminishes, a Final Action cut-off date will likely be imposed for both countries at some point this summer.
The China EB-3 Downgrade Phenomenon. For the last few years, the Final Action Date for EB-3 China has been closer to "Current" than the EB-2 China Final Action Date. This phenomenon has spurred EB-2 beneficiaries to file new I-140s to "downgrade" to EB-3. Once a sufficient number of "downgrades" materialize into demand for EB-3 China numbers, EB-3 and EB-2 China are likely to come back into alignment. Historically, this realignment typically happens in May.
Despite low number usage in EB-3 China, DOS has been reluctant to advance the Final Action Date dramatically as DOS expects the EB-2 China downgrade demand to materialize. With EB-3 China demand still low, as we enter the second half of the Fiscal Year, EB-3 China will advance five months in April, to August 15th, 2014. This will position the EB-3 China Final Action Date 17 months ahead of the EB-2 China Final Action Date of January 15th, 2013. It will be interesting to see how long this phenomenon will continue in this fiscal year before the Final Action Dates realign.
EB-3. Advancement of the EB-3 Worldwide Final Action Date to February 15th, 2017 is consistent with DOS' predictions. EB-3 Worldwide is not expected to become current in the near future, but will likely advance about one month at a time, staying about two months away from being current.
The EB-3 Philippines Final Action Date will also advance six months to September 15th, 2012 for April.
EB-5 China. EB-5 China will advance to May 22nd, 2014 in April. DOS reports that if the Regional Center pilot program is reauthorized before the end of April, it will continue to advance, but it remains to be seen how quickly and to what extent it will advance.
EB-4 El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Mexico. Number usage in the EB-4 categories for El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Mexico continues to approach the per-country annual limits. While DOS anticipates significant demand in these categories based upon information provided by the USCIS, there is still a possibility that their Final Action Dates may advance at some point during the summer.
Family-Based Preference Categories. All FB-1 categories will advance more than four months in April to October 15th, 2010, with the exception of Mexico and Philippines. FB-1, FB-2 and FB-3 are expected to continue to advance at the same pace because of the low rate at which applicants are becoming documentarily qualified. The FB-4 advancement in April was sufficient to meet DOS' target for this category for the next two to three months. This allowed the overall desired allocation level through April to be met, and should prevent excessive allocations once demand in the other categories increases those desired levels. No further advancement of FB-4 Worldwide is expected until July.
Why is the Final Action Date for EB-3 China later (August 15th, 2014) than the Filing Date for EB-3 China (May 1st, 2014)? By not advancing the Filing Date in this category, what is the purpose of the Filing Date chart for this category?
Answer: The EB-3 China Filing Date reached May 1st, 2014 during the period of time that USCIS recognized these dates as the basis for accepting FY 2016 adjustment cases. By the end of FY 2016 that date had advanced to May 1st, 2015. The Filing Date was retrogressed out of concern that the number of applicants eligible to file during FY 2016 was likely to exceed the numbers available for FY 2017. In addition, concern over the potential for retrogression of the EB-3 China Final Action Date when/if EB-2 downgrade demand materializes, led to the decision to not change the Filing Date for April. Two other factors in the decision to hold the date in April were: (1) additional information regarding the EB-2/EB-3 China demand issue should be available in mid-March; and (2) USCIS had already announced that the Final Action Dates would govern the filing of all employment-based applications, which effectively means that subsequent changes in the Filing Date chart were irrelevant.
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