DOS Update: Visa Bulletin for May 2018

Under the assumption that it takes roughly five months for I-485s to be processed to completion, it is not surprising that there were several dramatic final action date advancements in the April Visa Bulletin. The motivation for and timing of these movements was to spur demand that would result in full visa number usage before the end of the fiscal year on September 30, 2018. Since it is unlikely that most May I-485 filings will be processed to completion before the end of the fiscal year, many employment-based preference categories hold their April final action dates in the May Visa Bulletin, with only modest advancements in a few select categories. These advancements were made in an abundance of caution, based on data DOS received from USCIS regarding the number of pending cases. Categories in which final action dates will remain the same include-

• EB-1 China and India;
• EB-2 India;
• EB-3 China and Philippines;
• EB-4 El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras, and
• EB-5 China.

There are only five categories with modest advancements-

• EB-2 China will move forward one month to September 1, 2014;
• EB-3 India will advance three months to May 1, 2008;
• EB-3 Other Workers China and India will advance one and three months respectively, to May 1, 2007 and May 1, 2008; and
• EB-4 Mexico will advance roughly five weeks to October 22, 2016.

As DOS predicted, EB-5 Vietnam became oversubscribed, due to high demand, and will assume a final action date of July 22, 2014 in May, tracking to EB-5 China.

Most family-based preference petitions are processed through the National Visa Center and U.S. consulates abroad, which accept applications based on the “filing date” rather than the final action date. As a result, DOS has excellent visibility into demand in these categories, enabling a slow and steady progression of the final action dates with much less volatility than is seen in the employment-based preference categories. Final action dates advance modestly in May for all family-based preference categories, except FB-1 China, India and Worldwide, which hold at the April dates. There is no retrogression in any of the family-based preference categories in May.

What can we expect to see in the coming months?

As noted above, we are watching the family-based charts which should continue to see slow and steady progression in most categories.

It is likely that most employment-based final action dates will hold at their May dates for the month of June with some changes possible in July. What occurs is entirely dependent on demand that may materialize, and continuing consultations with USCIS. The wildcard this year that could cause unanticipated fluctuations in the final action dates is the pace of USCIS field office processing of I-485s.

With regard to EB-1 China and India, it is too early to know whether the high worldwide EB-1 demand seen over the past few months is the result of a processing glut or sustained demand. It is likely that EB-1 China and India will hold for at least another month, but DOS will continue to watch demand to determine whether any advancements may be possible.

While DOS is hopeful that the advancements made in April to EB-2 China will be sufficient to exhaust the visa numbers in this category, DOS continues to monitor China EB-3 downgrades and is likely to hold the final action dates in these categories for at least another month. However, there still remains the possibility of some advancement later this fiscal year if the anticipated demand does not materialize.

As noted above, EB-4 Mexico will advance five weeks in May. Although DOS predicted a summer retrogression of this category to track to the final action date of EB-4 El Salvador, G