We were among the first to report and send bulletin alerts last Thursday of the upcoming January 2011 Visa Bulletin major retrogression in most of the family-based preference categories. Our office has been inundated with inquiries from existing and new clients not only on the steps that should be taken over the next couple of weeks but also on the reasons for the (surprising and) significant retrogression. We are happy to address the reasons in a separate article to provide more clarity on what is to be expected.
Retrogression in Family-based Preference Categories
The January 2011 Visa Bulletin has the following developments with respect to family-based categories:
- FB1 ROW, China and India retrogress and go back by more than thirteen (13) months to January 1, 2005. FB1 Mexico moves forward by one (1) week to January 8, 1993.
- FB2A ROW, China, India and Philippines retrogress and go back by 32 months from August 1, 2010 to January 1, 2008. This is the most significant development this month.
- FB2B ROW, China and India retrogress and go back by approximately twenty-two (22) months to April 15, 2003. FB2B Mexico remains unchanged at June 22, 1992 and FB2B Philippines moves backwards by almost 9 months to May 15, 1999.
Explanation of the Retrogression for Family-based Preference Categories
The demand for visa numbers in the family-sponsored preference categories was very low from early 2009 through September 2010. Accordingly, the cut-off dates for most family preference categories were advanced at a rapid pace, in an attempt to generate demand so the annual numerical limits could be fully utilized. In fact, during our September 23, 2010 meeting with Charles Oppenheim, all indications were that the family-based categories, especially FB2A, would continue moving forward. The FB2A category was expected to be “close to current” in the February 2011 bulletin.
However, as a result of the accelerated level of demand over the last few months, the State Department has retrogressed most of the worldwide cut-off dates effective January 1, 2011. Unfortunately, and more importantly, the State Department has indicated that it is unlikely these categories will recover for some time since demand for family-sponsored preference categories does not appear to be subsiding.
Unfortunately, the sudden retrogression may alter the immigration plans for many applicants who were hoping to be able to file either for consular processing via NVC (to process abroad) or to adjust status I-485 (from within the U.S.). Considering all indications of slow forward movement (and even further possible retrogressions), we encourage applicants to seek alternative immigration avenues, at least in the short-term.
We have a number of consultation options and are happy to assist our current and new clients in evaluating their options. Also, if you already have not, we invite you to subscribe to our free weekly immigration bulletin so that you can receive news and updates on this and related topics.