Family-Based Preference Categories
As noted in the August 2018 Visa Bulletin, the final action dates for FB-3 India and/or FB-4 India were originally expected to retrogress in September. According to the latest information from the NVC regarding documentarily qualified demand, which will help inform us about September dates, it appears that retrogression will not be required. In terms of the other family-based categories, demand has started to pick up in the FB-1 category and although FB-3 demand had been subsiding, it also picked up slightly.
Final action date movement tends to be more stable in the family-based preference categories since most family-based cases are processed through the National Visa Center (NVC), which provides the United States Department of State (DOS) with better visibility into demand. Interestingly, the global scheduling system, which allows applicants and their attorneys to schedule new appointments or reschedule existing ones can create perceived changes in demand and impact priority date movement. DOS is aware of this variable and tries to factor it into date movements.
Update on Consular Processing of Employment-Based Immigrant Visas and Impact of USCIS’s Interview Policy
As noted previously, the NVC has seen an increase in employment-based immigrant visa cases for consular processing following USCIS’ 2017 decision to interview all employment-based adjustment of status applicants. Through June, consular use of employment-based numbers increased by more than 4,000, compared to the same period in FY 2017. Consular processing has increased 40 percent for EB-1 cases with a similar increase for EB-3 cases.
In terms of the impact of the USCIS interview policy on demand for immigrant visa numbers, DOS reports that as of mid-April, USCIS District Offices seem to have “hit their stride” in requesting immigrant visa numbers, and that they are now on par with the rate at which numbers were requested when I-485s were processed primarily at the service centers. In fact, overall USCIS employment-based number usage through early July is higher than it has historically been at this point in the year, which led to the establishment of the EB-1 Worldwide final action date for August and might require other “limiting” action in September. With the continuing successful transition of employment-based adjustment cases from the service centers to the district offices and the ongoing exchange of data, volatility in final action date movements should be minimized by 2019.
Summer of 2007 Déjà Vu? As noted in the August Visa Bulletin, “it has been necessary to impose an E1 Final Action Date for the month of August, with this date being imposed immediately.” This statement has prompted questions from Stakeholders as to whether USCIS will continue to accept EB-1 Worldwide adjustment of status applications for the duration of July. Stakeholders who lived through the summer of 2007 can take comfort that an abrupt end to filings is not expected.
In using the term “immediately,” DOS did not mean to imply that USCIS would stop accepting all EB-1 Worldwide applications as of the date of publication of the Bulletin. The term “immediately” simply refers to the future authorization of EB-1 numbers for cases being interviewed in July. Absent a contrary announcement from USCIS, DOS fully expects USCIS will continue to interview scheduled applicants and accept all EB-1 Worldwide I-485s for filing. However, upon conclusion of the immigrant visa interview, if the applicant’s priority date is on/after May 1, 2016, the request for an immigrant visa will be put in DOS’ pending demand file until the final action date again becomes current and the adjustment of status can be granted. Fur