The December 2018 Visa Bulletin brings some welcome changes—a three month advancement across the EB-1 categories; the EB-2 China Final Action Date again surpassing EB-3 China; the gap between EB-2 India and EB-3 India narrowing to one month; EB-4 El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras advancing one week; EB-4 Mexico advancing five weeks; and EB-5 China advancing one week, while EB-5 Vietnam advances three months.

Interpreting the Dates for Filing. The Dates for Filing are important, not only because USCIS has elected to use these dates for adjustment of status filings for the past two consecutive months, but also because of their predictive value. As noted previously, the Dates for Filing generally reflect where DOS expects the Final Action Dates to be eight to twelve months in the future, and these dates are used to generate demand. As applicants become documentarily qualified through the National Visa Center process or are interviewed by USCIS through the adjustment of status process, DOS obtains visibility into demand and is better able to manage Final Action Date movements.

As one might expect, the Dates for Filing should not change very much, particularly early in the fiscal year. In December, all Dates for Filing remain the same, except EB-2 and EB-3 China, which advance approximately 4 months and 6 months, respectively; EB-3 India and Other Workers India which advance three months; and EB-3 Philippines and Other Workers Philippines which advance one month. The forward movement in the Dates for Filing in these categories may signal that demand is materializing at a slower rate than anticipated, prompting DOS to generate additional demand.

In the Family-Based Preference categories, the Dates for Filing also remain the same in December with the notable exception of Mexico (except FB-2A Mexico) and the FB-4 categories (except FB-4 India). Interestingly, the Final Action Dates for Mexico also remain unchanged in December with the exception of FB-2A Mexico, and there is only modest movement of one week in the Final Action Dates for the FB-4 categories (with the exception of FB-4 Mexico which holds at the same date). Rather than advance them quickly, DOS is holding the Final Action Dates in these categories steady to watch demand trends.

Family-Based Preference Categories

All of the family-based Final Action Dates advance in December with the exception of FB-1 Mexico, FB-2B Mexico, FB-3 Mexico, and FB-4 Mexico, which will hold at their November Final Action Dates.

Employment-Based Preference Categories

EB-1. As predicted last month, in December all of the EB-1 Final Action Dates advance three months, with EB-1 Worldwide, El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras, Mexico, Philippines and Vietnam advancing to July 1, 2017. The Final Action Dates for EB-1 China and EB-1 India advance to September 1, 2016.

If the Dates for Filing are any indication, members might see the Final Action Dates for EB-1 Worldwide, El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras, Mexico, Philippines and Vietnam reach June 1, 2018 within the next eight to twelve months. Similarly, the Final Action Dates for EB-1 China and EB-1 India are predicted to reach October 1, 2017 within the next eight to twelve months.

DOS expects that the Final Action Dates for all EB-1 categories will continue to advance. It is difficult, however, for DOS to predict at this time how rapidly they might advance, but he hopes to have more information in December. Data provided in the USCIS National Benefits Center reports are guiding his decisions on this and other employment-based categories.

It is pure coincidence that EB-1 Worldwide (including El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Philippines and Vietnam) advance at the same pace as EB-1 China and EB-1 India in December. These categories could advance at a faster pace than EB-1 China and EB-1 India at so