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March 2014 Visa Bulletin – EB-2 India Unchanged; EB-3 ROW, China and Mexico Advance Again; No Movement in FB-2A; FB-2A Mexico Retrogression

The U.S. State Department has just released the March 2014 Visa Bulletin which is the sixth Visa Bulletin for the FY2014 fiscal year.   The major headline in the upcoming month’s Visa Bulletin is the expected lack of movement in EB-2 India, the continued forward  movement in EB-3 ROW, China and Mexico, the fact that FB-2A remains unchanged with a (relatively) recent cutoff date, and the significant 18-month retrogression for FB-2A Mexico.

Summary of the March 2014 Visa Bulletin – Employment-Based (EB)

Below is a summary of the March 2014 Visa Bulletin with respect to the employment-based categories:

  • EB-1 remains current across the board.
  • EB-2 for ROW, Mexico and Philippines are all current.    EB-2 India remains unchanged at November 15, 2004 and is expected to remain at this level for some more time (with possible forward movement later in the fiscal year).  EB-2 China moves forward by five (5) weeks to February 15, 2009.
  • EB-3 ROW, China and Mexico move forward by three (3) months to September 1, 2012.  EB-3 Philippines moves forward by two (2) weeks to May 1, 2007, while EB-3 India  moves forward (finally!) by two (2) weeks to September 15, 2003.
  • The “other worker” moves forward by three (3) months to September 1, 2012 for ROW, China and Mexico.  It moves forward by two (2) weeks to May 1, 2007 for Philippines and moves forward by two (2) weeks to September 15, 2003 for India.

Summary of the March 2014 Visa Bulletin – Family-Based (FB)

Below is a summary of the March 2014 Visa Bulletin with respect to family-based categories:

  • FB-1 ROW, China and India all move forward by one (1) month to February 1, 2007.   FB-1 Mexico moves forward by two (2) weeks to October 15, 1993 and FB-1 Philippines remains unchanged at August 15, 2001.
  • FB-2A remains unchanged (again) for all ROW, China, India and Philippines at September 8, 2013.  It retrogresses for Mexico by moving back almost 18 months to April 15, 2012.
  • FB-2B ROW, China and India all move forward by seven (7) weeks to September 1, 2006.  FB-2B Mexico remains unchanged at May 1, 1993 while FB-2B Philippines moves forward by two (2) weeks to June 8, 2003.

EB-2 India Remains Unchanged; EB-3 India Barely Moves Forward

Unfortunately, no news for EB-2 India means continued disappointment in the lack of movement in this category.  In the fall of 2013, we reported on the expected retrogression in the EB India categories due to high demand and the December 2013 Visa Bulletin, together with the subsequent three Visa Bulletins, confirm our predictions.    The last few Visa Bulletins showed that our expectations were absolutely correct even though many of our EB India clients and readers were disappointed by this news.    Unfortunately, since EB-2 India remains severely retrogressed, we expect that there would be no forward movement for at least several months (perhaps until Summer 2014).   The rationale behind this severe retrogression (in December 2013) and the lack of movement for the next several months in EB-2 India is that there is simply too much “demand” (number of pending cases caused by I-485 filings and EB-3 to EB-2 porting cases, plus adding dependents) in this category and the Visa Office has to “stop” the rate of new filings by moving back the cutoff date until USCIS and DOS are able to approve the pending cases and “clear” the demand.

EB-3 ROW, China and Mexico Move Forward Again

In contrast to EB India, we note that the EB-3 ROW, China and Mexico categories continue to move forward (again) and with a good pace.   Last month the forward movement in this category was two months, following a six-month forward movement in the January 2014 Visa Bulletin.   This is another significant movement and would help many EB-3 applicants who are waiting for a visa number to either file their I-485 adjustment of status applications or process their immigrant visa at the U.S. Consulate abroad.   Overall, the EB-3 ROW, China and Mexico categories have advanced by almost one year over the past three months.

EB-3 China Continues to be Ahead of EB-2 China

Over the past couple of months or so, our office has handled many inquiries from Chinese nationals who are EB-2 applicants and who try to find out whether it makes sense to refile under EB-3 to take advantage of the unique situation where the cutoff date for EB-3 China (September 1, 2012) is more advanced than the date for EB-2 China (February 15, 2009).

In some cases,  an EB-2 China applicant can seek to “downgrade” their preference category, while retaining their priority date, in order to have a current priority date under the EB-3 category and to be able to file their I-485 application.   As a background, many EB-2 PERM Labor Certifications are drafted in a way allowing the subsequent filing of an EB-3 I-140 petition on the basis of the same PERM — thereby retaining the priority date under the EB-3 category.    While it is possible to use a PERM which has already expired if it has been used in support of a previous I-140, a new EB-3 I-140 filing may not be filed under premium processing.  Filing an I-140 under regular processing may take around four to five months and it is entirely possible that by the time an EB-3 I-140 is approved, the EB-3 China cutoff dates may retrogress.

We also caution our clients and readers, especially the China employment-based applicants, that the historic average for an EB-3 China priority date to become current and for a green card under this category to be approved is still significantly higher than the historic average wait time under EB-2.   As a result, even if it is possible that an EB-3 “downgrade” may allow the I-485 filing, we still believe that ultimately, an EB-2 China application would take less time to approve.

Our office is happy to consult applicants who are in this situation and are considering filing under EB-3 to take advantage of the more advanced EB-3 China cutoff dates.   Please contact us if we can help.

FB-2A Remains Unchanged; FB2A Mexico Retrogresses Significantly

Another notable development (or lack thereof) is the fact that FB-2A cutoff date remains unchanged, after the introduction of a cutoff date in the October 2013 Visa Bulletin.   We expected the October 2013 FB-2A cutoff date to be introduced and the fact that it remains unchanged is not surprising since it appears that USCIS and the Department of State have seen increased number of filings in this category.   Also not entirely unexpected is the retrogression in FB-2A for Mexican nationals — the Department of State has been cautioning that they see significant demand in this category and a retrogression would be forthcoming.

We urge those FB-2A Mexico nationals who are current now and who would not be current as of March 1 to consider filing their I-485 application as soon as possible to take advantage of this (rare) opportunity to file I-485 and obtain work and travel authorization documents for as long as the I-485 remains pending.    Please contact us if we can help.

Current Priority Date?

Our office stands ready to assist in the applicable process to take advantage of a current (or close to current) priority date.   Those applicants whose priority dates are current as of the March 2014 Visa Bulletin may be eligible to process their (and their family members’) I-485 Adjustment of Status applications from within the U.S. or process their immigrant visa at a U.S. Consulate abroad.   Please do not hesitate to contact us if our office can help you take advantage of this significant forward movement in the cutoff dates.    We are also happy to provide a free quote for preparing and filing your I-485 application.

Visa Bulletin Predictions – Employment-Based

The March 2014 Visa Bulletin also provides a general estimate on the movement of the cutoff dates over the next months.

EB-1.   This category is expected to remain current.

EB-2 ROW.  This category is expected to remain current.

EB-2 China.  This category is expected to continue to move forward by approximately 3-5 weeks per month in each Visa Bulletin.

EB-2 India.  No forward movement expected.

EB-3 ROW.    After the last few months’  significant forward movement, as demand (number of filings) increases, the forward movement may stop or the dates may even retrogress.   .

EB-3 China.  Expected to track the worldwide (ROW) date.

EB-3 India.  “Little or no” forward movement expected.

EB-3 Philippines.  Expected to keep moving forward by three to six weeks per month.

Further Updates and News

We invite you to subscribe to our free weekly immigration newsletter to receive timely updates on this and related topics.  We also invite you to contact us if our office can be of any assistance in your immigration matters or you have any questions or comments about the March 2014 Visa Bulletin.  Finally, if you already haven’t, please consider our Visa Bulletin Predictions tool which provides personalized predictions and charts helping you understand when a particular priority date may become current and what are the movement patterns

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How to Skip the Per-Country Immigrant Visa Line – Cross-Chargeability Options

Many of our readers follow closely our reports of the monthly Visa Bulletin which provides cutoff dates for those immigrant visa (green card) applicants who are current and have immigrant visa numbers available (i.e. their actual permanent resident “green” card is assigned an available number and can be issued).   The past several Visa Bulletins have been disappointing for most, especially for EB India applicants with the lack of movement and the prospect of a very long wait time before their priority date becomes current.

With such little movement, of any, it is difficult to imagine an alternative to the long wait, in particular for those from India, but also from many Mexican, Chinese, and Philippine applicants.   For some, however, the rule of cross-chargeability could provide relief by moving them from an over-subscribed and long-delayed country of chargeability to another with a substantially shorter wait time.

The Cross-Chargeability, As Defined by the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA)

The rule is set by the Section 202(b)(2) of INA.   Specifically, the rule states that:

[I]f an alien is chargeable to a different foreign state from that of his spouse, the foreign state to which such alien is chargeable may, if necessary to prevent the separation of husband and wife, be determined by the foreign state of the spouse he is accompanying or following to join, if such spouse has received or would be qualified for an immigrant visa and if immigration charged to the foreign state to which such spouse has been or would be chargeable has not reached a numerical level established under subsection (a)(2) for that fiscal year.

The cross-chargeability rule applies to both I-485 adjustment of status and to consular processing immigrant visa cases.   However, it is important to note that while the rule has been generally accepted and works for most of the cases, the way the law is drafted does not require but merely allows the government to apply cross-chargeability.  Note the language, “may, if necessary, to prevent the separation of husband and wife.”   It is our experience that a properly documented, flagged and submitted I-485 cross-chargeability application would be accepted and approved under this section of INA.

Skipping the Line – How Does Cross-Chargeability Work?

Cross-chargeability allows a family of applicants to move their country of immigrant visa chargeability from one category to another if a member of the family was born elsewhere.  Most often this applies to a spouse (not the main applicant) who was born in a different country, their place of birth was a different country at the time of birth, or they were born on the high seas (rare).

It is important to note that parents cannot take advantage of cross-chargeability and use the country of birth of a child.

Examples of Cross-Chargeability (and Line-Skipping)

Here are a few examples of how the rules apply to real-world situations :

  • A married foreign worker born in India has a pending Employment-Based Third Category (“EB-3”) case with an October 2006 priority date, and it could be a few years before the current EB-3 India  cutoff time moves from September 1, 2003 (currently, from the February 2014 Visa Bulletin) to past October 2006 to make this worker’s priority date current.  However, because the worker’s spouse was actually born in Canada, in this example, cross-chargeability would allow the EB-3 October 2006 priority date to be processed under the all-other-nationalities (Rest of the World, or ROW) EB-3 category which, as of today,  is processing priority dates of June 1, 2012 and earlier.  As a result, a long delay in waiting for the EB-3 India category to reach the October 2006 priority date is bypassed and the family can obtain their green cards within weeks or months (depending on how the application is filed).
  • Another married foreign worker born in China has an EB-2 immigrant visa waiting with a July 2010 priority date.  Currently, as of this month, EB-2 China cases with a priority date of January 8, 2009 and earlier are being issued permanent resident status.  However, the worker’s spouse was born in Hong Kong before 1997 when it became part of China again.  Since Hong Kong was not part of China at the time of birth, cross-chargeability allows the worker and spouse to be processed under the all-other-nationalities (ROW) EB-2 category.  As this category is current, there would be no wait time for a current priority date.

How Can We Help?

Do you have a family member whose country of birth differs from the country of birth of the main applicant/worker? We would be happy to consult with you and analyze your options for filing or other alternatives, if they apply to your situation.   The possibility of significant improvement in the waiting/processing of one’s green card application makes cross-chargeability a desirable option, if it is applicable.   We offer a number of consultation options to help you evaluate your situation.

Further Updates and News

We invite you to subscribe to our free weekly immigration newsletter to receive timely updates on this and related topics.  We also invite you to contact us if our office can be of any assistance in your immigration matters or you have any questions or comments about this article.  Finally, if you already haven’t, please consider our Visa Bulletin Predictions tool which provides personalized predictions and charts helping you understand when a particular priority date may become current and what are the movement patterns.

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February 2014 Visa Bulletin – EB India No Movement; EB-3 ROW, China and Mexico Advance Again; No Movement in FB-2A

The U.S. State Department has just released the February 2014 Visa Bulletin which is the fifth Visa Bulletin for the FY2014 fiscal year.   The major headline in the upcoming month’s Visa Bulletin is the expected lack of movement in EB India, the slowing forward movement in EB-3 ROW, China and Mexico and the fact that FB-2A remains unchanged with a (relatively) recent cutoff date.

Summary of the February 2014 Visa Bulletin – Employment-Based (EB)

Below is a summary of the February 2014 Visa Bulletin with respect to the employment-based categories:

  • EB-1 remains current across the board.
  • EB-2 for ROW, Mexico and Philippines are all current.    EB-2 India remains unchanged at November 15, 2004 and is expected to remain at this level for some time.  EB-2 China moves forward by one (1) month to January 8, 2009.
  • EB-3 ROW, China and Mexico move forward by two (2) months to June 1, 2012.  EB-3 Philippines moves forward by two (2) months to April 15, 2007, while EB-3 India  remains unchanged (again) at September 1, 2003.
  • The “other worker” moves forward by two (2) months to June 1, 2012 for ROW, China and Mexico.  It moves forward by two (2) months to April 15, 2007 for Philippines and remains unchanged at September 1, 2003 for India.

Summary of the February 2014 Visa Bulletin – Family-Based (FB)

Below is a summary of the February 2014 Visa Bulletin with respect to family-based categories:

  • FB-1 ROW, China and India all move forward by three (3) weeks to January 1, 2007.   FB-1 Mexico moves forward by only one (1) week to October 1, 1993 and FB-1 Philippines moves forward by six (6) weeks to August 15, 2001.
  • FB-2A remains unchanged (again) for all nationalities.  All categories (FB-2A ROW, China, India, Mexico and Philippines) continue to have a cutoff date of September 8, 2013.
  • FB-2B ROW, China and India all move forward by five (5) weeks to July 8, 2006.  FB-2B Mexico moves backwards by eleven (11) months to May 1, 1993 while FB-2B Philippines moves forward by three (3) weeks to May 22, 2003.

EB India Remains Unchanged

Earlier this fall, in October, we reported on the expected retrogression in the EB India categories due to high demand and the December 2013 Visa Bulletin, together with this February 2014 Visa Bulletin, confirm our predictions.    The last few Visa Bulletins showed that our expectations were absolutely correct even though many of our EB India clients and readers were disappointed by this news.    Unfortunately, since EB-2 India remains severely retrogressed, we expect that there would be no forward movement for at least several months (perhaps until Summer 2014).   The rationale behind this severe retrogression (in December 2013) and the lack of movement for the next several months in EB-2 India is that there is simply too much “demand” (number of pending cases caused by I-485 filings and EB-3 to EB-2 porting cases, plus adding dependents) in this category and the Visa Office has to “stop” the rate of new filings by moving back the cutoff date until USCIS and DOS are able to approve the pending cases and “clear” the demand.

EB-3 ROW, China and Mexico Move Forward Again, But Slowly

In contrast to EB India, we note that the EB-3 ROW, China and Mexico categories continue to move forward (again) but not as fast as they have been advancing over the past few months.   This month, the movement was only  by two months — compared to the forward movement of six months in the January 2014 Visa Bulletin.   This is another significant movement and would help many EB-3 applicants who are waiting for a visa number to either file their I-485 adjustment of status applications or process their immigrant visa at the U.S. Consulate abroad.

EB-3 China More Advanced than EB-2 China

Over the past month or so, our office has handled many inquiries from Chinese nationals who are EB-2 applicants and who try to find out whether it makes sense to refile under EB-3 to take advantage of the unique situation where the cutoff date for EB-3 China (June 1, 2012) is more advanced than for EB-2 China (January 8, 2009).

Very often, an EB-2 China applicant seeks to “downgrade” their preference category, while retaining their priority date, in order to have a current priority date and be able to file their I-485 application.   As a background, many EB-2 PERM Labor Certifications are drafted in a way allowing the subsequent filing of an EB-3 I-140 petition — thereby retaining the priority date under the EB-3 category.    While it is possible to use a PERM which has already expired if it has been used in support of a previous I-140, a new EB-3 I-140 filing may not be filed under premium processing.  Filing an I-140 under regular processing may take around four to five months and it is entirely possible that by the time an EB-3 I-140 is approved, the EB-3 China cutoff dates may retrogress.

We also caution our clients and readers, especially the China employment-based applicants, that the historic average for an EB-3 China priority date to become current and for a green card under this category to be approved is still significantly higher than the historic average wait time under EB-2.   As a result, even if it is possible that an EB-3 “downgrade” may allow the I-485 filing, we still believe that ultimately, an EB-2 China application would take less time to approve.

Our office is happy to consult applicants who are in this situation and are considering filing under EB-3 to take advantage of the more advanced EB-3 China cutoff dates.   Please contact us if we can help.

FB-2A Remains Unchanged

Another notable development (or lack thereof) is the fact that FB-2A cutoff date remains unchanged, after the introduction of a cutoff date in the October 2013 Visa Bulletin.   We expected the October 2013 FB-2A cutoff date to be introduced and the fact that it remains unchanged is not surprising since it appears that USCIS and the Department of State have seen increased number of filings in this category.

Current Priority Date?

Our office stands ready to assist in the applicable process to take advantage of a current (or close to current) priority date.   Those applicants whose priority dates are current as of the February 2014 Visa Bulletin (EB-3, specifically) may be eligible to process their (and their family members’) I-485 Adjustment of Status applications from within the U.S. or process their immigrant visa at a U.S. Consulate abroad.   Please do not hesitate to contact us if our office can help you take advantage of this significant forward movement in the cutoff dates.    We are also happy to provide a free quote for preparing and filing your I-485 application.

Further Updates and News

We invite you to subscribe to our free weekly immigration newsletter to receive timely updates on this and related topics.  We also invite you to contact us if our office can be of any assistance in your immigration matters or you have any questions or comments about the February 2014 Visa Bulletin.  Finally, if you already haven’t, please consider our Visa Bulletin Predictions tool which provides personalized predictions and charts helping you understand when a particular priority date may become current and what are the movement patterns.

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Visa Bulletin Predictions and Updates from Charles Oppenheim – Major Retrogression in EB-2 India (October 23, 2013)

Our office just came back from a discussion session here in Washington, DC with Charles Oppenheim.  Mr. Oppenheim is the Chief of the Visa Control and Reporting Division at the U.S. Department of State.  For many, he is simply known as the person responsible for the monthly and annual visa number allocations for family- and employment-based green cards.  He is also the person who prepares and publishes the monthly visa bulletin which is highly anticipated every month.   Our access and proximity to Mr. Oppenheim allows us to provide immediate updates on expected Visa Bulletin movements and we are proud to be among the first to report.

We are asked on a daily basis by our clients to provide visa bulletin predictions and when a particular priority date may become current.   As a result, on behalf of our clients, we appreciate the opportunity Mr. Oppenheim has afforded us to get some sense of the movement of the priority dates and also on short- and long-term immigrant visa number trends.

Summary of Mr. Oppenheim’s Key Points

EB-2 India will retrogress significantly in the December 2013 Visa Bulletin — going back to late 2004 or early 2005.   EB-3 India will remain unchanged or retrogress slightly over the near term.    EB-3 ROW will move forward significantly (by a year) in the near term (few months), with possible slowdown towards the middle of the fiscal year.   

General Visa Number Trends

Mr. Oppenheim spent a few minutes to describe the visa number allocation process and reiterated the fact that in the employment-based context, especially, the demand for visa numbers is greater because of dependents being added — each green card application case is, therefore, “larger” than previously expected and instead of one visa number, if often includes two or three (because many primary beneficiaries have married and have children).  For example, approximately 45% of the visa numbers are used by the primary beneficiaries with the balance of 55% taken up by derivative beneficiaries (spouses and children).   As a result, and in recognition of the fact that many EB-3 India and China candidates are now eligible for porting and are now applying under the EB-2 category, Mr. Oppenheim noted that the EB-3, in addition to EB-2 visa numbers, are expected to remain oversubscribed.

He also explained that the number of EB-3 to EB-2 porting cases is very significant and because the mechanics of the EB-3 to EB-2 porting system does not allow advance notification to the Department of State’s Visa Office.   This causes a significant number of EB-3 to EB-2 porting cases to “appear” without advance warning to the Visa Office and, as a result, the Visa Office has to hold cutoff dates back to accommodate such porting case.   As an example, Mr. Oppenheim cited that between October 1 and October 22nd his office noted that there were approximately 800 Indian nationals who ported from EB-3 to EB-3.   Additionally, Mr. Oppenheim shared that in addition to EB-3 to EB-2 porting cases for Indian nationals, who are the majority of such cases, he sees an increasing number of EB-3 to EB-2 porting cases from nationals of other countries under the “Rest of World” (ROW) category.

Unfortunately, today’s comments by Mr. Oppenheim do not bring much good news, especially for EB-2 India.   Because of the significant number of EB-2 India filings early this year and because of the very high number of EB-3 to EB-2 porting cases, Mr. Oppenheim indicated that EB-2 India will retrogress significantly (to late 2004 or early 2005) in the upcoming Visa Bulletin and would be held back for a significant period of time, very likely until the summer of 2014.

Mr. Oppenheim suggested that the EB-1 and EB-5 categories are relatively “popular” this year and expects more numbers to be used in these categories, compared to the past years.   He cited EB-5 China category where the demand has been growing steadily (approximately 15% over the year before) and that a cutoff date for EB-5 China is possible later this fiscal year (possibly around June 2014).   This high demand also means that there will be less “leftover” visa numbers available to allocate to other categories, such as EB-2 India and China which would further contribute to the slow EB-2 India and China forward movement.

On a more general level, Mr. Oppenheim shared that his goal is to advance the cutoff dates more at the beginning of the fiscal year (October, November and December, and January visa bulletins) and then, as he is able to gauge demand for a particular preference category, adjust accordingly by either slowing down or retrogressing (if demand is high) or advancing even more (is demand turns out to be low).

Visa Bulletin Predictions – Employment-Based

Mr. Oppenheim was able to provide some predictions and expectations for movement of visa numbers over the next few months.   Please note that these are short-term predictions and depending on the number of applications as a result of the next few months’ visa numbers, the rate of cutoff date movement may change.

EB-1.   This category is expected to remain current throughout the fiscal year.

EB-2 Rest of World (ROW).  This category is expected to remain current throughout the fiscal year; however, Mr. Oppenheim suggested that depending on demand he may introduce a cutoff date towards the end of the fiscal year.

EB-2 China.  This category is expected to continue to move forward by approximately 3-5 weeks per month in each Visa Bulletin.

EB-2 India.  This is the major headline from our meeting with Mr. Oppenheim –  EB-2 India is expected to retrogress significantly – by several years back to late 2005 or early 2005 as early as the next Visa Bulletin.     It is expected that EB-2 India will remain at that level (late 2004 or early 2005) until the summer of 2014.    The rationale behind this severe retrogression in EB-2 India is that there is simply too much “demand” (number of pending cases caused by I-485 filings and EB-3 to EB-2 porting cases, plus adding dependents) in this category and the Visa Office has to stop the rate of new filings until USCIS and DOS are able to approve the pending cases and “clear the demand.”

EB-3 Rest of World (ROW).  This category is expected to move forward significantly (up to one year) over the next one or two months to stimulate “demand” for the next several months.

EB-3 China/Philippines.  Each of these two categories is expected to keep moving forward by 2 weeks per month.

EB-3 India.  Unfortunately, this category continues to be oversubscribed and there is no forward movement expected in the next (December 2013) Visa Bulletin.     In addition, Mr. Oppenheim indicated that a retrogression is very possible in the near future.   This would be caused by the fact that there are simply too many EB-3 India applicants waiting for a visa number to become available.   However, as a positive sign, as many EB-3 India applicants are porting into EB-2, there is some possibility that some EB-3 visa numbers may be “freed” simply because some EB-3 candidates will drop out of the EB-3 demand line after receiving a green card under a newly ported EB-2 category.

EB-5.   Mr. Oppenheim suggested that the demand for EB-5 is on an upward trajectory and he indicated that the most recent fiscal year noted a 15% increase in EB-5 China cases.   This makes it likely that there would be a cutoff date introduced towards the summer for EB-5 China (only).

Visa Bulletin Predictions – Family-Based

Additionally, Mr. Oppenheim was able to provide some predictions and expectations for movement of visa numbers over the next few months for the family-based categories as well.

FB-1 ROW.   This category is expected to advance by 3-5 weeks per month.

FB-2A.   This category is expected to be held at its current level for the foreseeable future.  Mexico is likely to retrogress.

FB-2B.  This category is expected to advance by 3-5 weeks per month.

FB-3.  This category is expected to advance by 3-5 weeks per month.

FB-4.  This category is expected to advance by 2-3 weeks per month.

On Predicting the Visa Bulletin Cutoff Dates

Mr. Oppenheim shared his thoughts on the ability  of others outside of his office to predict reliably the cutoff date movements.   He suggested that while some of the datapoints that go into determining the cutoff dates are available — demand data, number filings — there is so much more (variables and data, some of which is impossible to get) that goes into a cutoff date determination in each visa bulletin that a reliable prediction is impossible for anyone including, sometimes, the Visa Office of Mr. Oppenheim.   There are many variables that affect the demand.  For example, the retrogression of EB-2 India in the future is due to the number of I-485 filings but also due to the fact that there are “extraordinary number” of EB-3 to EB-2 India porting cases.   Mr. Oppenheim cannot predict how many of the EB-3 India candidates will end up porting into EB-2 — as a result, by the time he “sees” an EB-2 India case, he has not anticipated for it and has to slow down or retrogress EB-2 India to be able to accommodate EB-2 India applicants with early  priority dates.

Conclusion

Mr. Oppenheim’s comments are extremely helpful to get a sense of the visa cutoff dates over the next few months.  We understand, as Mr. Oppenheim does, that his comments and predictions are going to cause significant disappointment in EB-2 and EB-2 India applicants, specifically.     Our EB-2 India clients would find Mr. Oppenheim’s predictions disappointing, especially since many EB-2 India applicants were able to get very close to being current earlier this year.    Fortunately, those EB-2 India and China applicants who became current earlier this year and were able to file I-485 applications would  be able to take advantage of AC21 portability rules and take new employment and more freely advance their careers.

Also, many EB-3 India candidates who now qualify for EB-2 would be able to improve their waiting times dramatically by upgrading to EB-2.   We are happy to help analyze and assist in such EB-3 to EB-2 India or China porting cases.

Please do not hesitate to contact us if we can review your case, answer any questions or schedule a consultation.   We also invite you to subscribe to our free weekly immigration newsletter to receive timely updates on this and related topics.  Finally, if you already haven’t, please consider our Visa Bulletin Predictions tool which provides personalized predictions and charts helping you understand when a particular priority date may become current and what are the movement patterns.

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November 2013 Visa Bulletin – No Movement for EB-2 and EB-3 India; No Movement for FB-2A

The U.S. State Department has just released the November 2013 Visa Bulletin which is the second Visa Bulletin for the FY2014 fiscal year.   The major headline in the upcoming month’s Visa Bulletin is that there is no movement for any EB India categories and the fact that FB-2A remains unchanged with a (relatively) recent cutoff date.

Summary of the November 2013 Visa Bulletin – Employment-Based (EB)

Below is a summary of the November 2013 Visa Bulletin with respect to employment-based petitions:

  • EB-1 remains current across the board.
  • EB-2 for ROW, Mexico and Philippines are all current.    EB-2 India remains unchanged, again, at June 15, 2008.  EB-2 China moves forward by three (3) weeks to October 8, 2008.
  • EB-3 ROW, China and Mexico move forward by three (3) months to October 1, 2010.  EB-3 Philippines remains unchanged at December 15, 2006, while EB-3 India  remains unchanged, again, at September 22, 2003.
  • The “other worker” moves forward by three (3) months to October 1, 2010 for ROW and Mexico.  It moves forward by one (1) week to October 1, 2010 for China.   It remains unchanged at December 15, 2006 for Philippines; there is also no movement for India which remains at September 22, 2003.

Summary of the November 2013 Visa Bulletin – Family-Based (FB)

Below is a summary of the November 2013 Visa Bulletin with respect to family-based petitions:

  • FB-1 continues to move forward, although slowly.  FB-1 ROW, China and India all move forward by three (3) weeks to October 22, 2006.   FB-1 Mexico remains unchanged at September 22, 1993 and FB-1 Philippines moves forward by one (1) month to July 1, 2001.
  • FB-2A remains unchanged for all nationalities.  All categories (FB-2A ROW, China, India, Mexico and Philippines) continue to have a cutoff date of September 8, 2013.
  • FB-2B ROW, China and India all move forward by three (3) weeks to March 22, 2006.  FB-2B Mexico moves forward by three (3) weeks to April 1, 1994 while FB-2B Philippines moves forward by three (3) weeks to March 1, 2003.

Slow or No Movement for Many

The November 2013 Visa Bulletin does not bring much good news.   Many categories remain unchanged – specifically EB-2 and EB-3 India remain unchanged and FB-2A for all categories also remain the same.   It should be noted, however, that the cutoff dates have been advancing rapidly over the past few months for many categories and the fact that there is not much movement this month should be taken together with the recent significant forward movement for many.

The last two Visa Bulletins for the last fiscal year (August and September 2013) brought significant advancement which was done in order to utilize all of the available visa numbers for the fiscal year (which ended on September 30th).   The Department of State and USCIS are expecting (and our office already has seen) increased activity in this category — National Visa Center (NVC) case processing and I-485 adjustment of status activity at USCIS.    During our analysis on the September 2013 Visa Bulletin, we predicted that “with the increased activity over the next few months in EB-2 India, slowdown and even retrogression are possible. “

EB India and FB-2A Remain  Unchanged

Many of our readers or clients who are under the employment-based (EB) category for India would be disappointed by the lack of any movement in any of the EB categories for India (EB-2, EB-3 and Skilled Workers).   This is due to the high demand and the number of filings caused by the significant forward movement over the summer of 2013 in many of the India EB cutoff dates.

Another notable development (or lack thereof) is the fact that FB-2A cutoff date remains unchanged, after the introduction of a cutoff date in the previous, October 2013 Visa Bulletin.   We expected the October 2013 FB-2A cutoff date to be introduced and the fact that it remains unchanged is not surprising since it appears that USCIS and the Department of State have seen increased number of filings in this category.

Current Priority Date?

Our office stands ready to assist in the applicable process to take advantage of a current (or close to current) priority date.   Those applicants whose priority dates are current as of the November 2013 Visa Bulletin may be eligible to process their (and their family members’) I-485 Adjustment of Status applications from within the U.S. or process their immigrant visa at a U.S. Consulate abroad.   Please do not hesitate to contact us if our office can help you take advantage of this significant forward movement in the cutoff dates.    We are also happy to provide a free quote for preparing and filing your I-485 application.

Further Updates and News

We invite you to subscribe to our free weekly immigration newsletter to receive timely updates on this and related topics.  We also invite you to contact us if our office can be of any assistance in your immigration matters or you have any questions or comments about the November 2013 Visa Bulletin.  Finally, if you already haven’t, please consider our Visa Bulletin Predictions tool which provides personalized predictions and charts helping you understand when a particular priority date may become current and what are the movement patterns.

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October 2013 Visa Bulletin – New Fiscal Year; No (or Very Slow) Movement for Most Categories; FB-2A Cutoff Date Introduced

The U.S. State Department has just released the October 2013 Visa Bulletin which is the first Visa Bulletin for the FY2014 fiscal year.   The major headline in the upcoming month’s Visa Bulletin is that despite the fact that this is the first Visa Bulletin for the new fiscal year, there is not much movement for many categories and that the FB-2A category will have a cutoff date starting October 1st.

Summary of the October 2013 Visa Bulletin – Employment-Based (EB)

Below is a summary of the October 2013 Visa Bulletin with respect to employment-based petitions:

  • EB-1 remains current across the board.
  • EB-2 for ROW, Mexico and Philippines are all current.    EB-2 India remains unchanged at June 15, 2008.  EB-2 China moves forward by five (5) weeks to September 15, 2008.
  • EB-3 ROW, China and Mexico remain unchanged at July 1, 2010.  EB-3 Philippines moves forward by two (2) weeks to December 15, 2006, while EB-3 India  remains unchanged at September 22, 2003.
  • The “other worker” remains unchanged for ROW and Mexico at July 1, 2010.  It moves forward by two (2) weeks to December 15, 2006 for Philippines and moves forward by three (3) months to September 22, 2004 for China.  There is no movement for India which remains at September 22, 2003.

Summary of the October 2013 Visa Bulletin – Family-Based (FB)

Below is a summary of the October 2013 Visa Bulletin with respect to family-based petitions:

  • FB-1 continues to move forward, although slowly.  FB-1 ROW, China and India all move forward by two (2) weeks to October 1, 2006.   FB-1 Mexico moves forward by two (2) weeks to September 22, 1993 and FB-1 Philippines moves forward by three (3) weeks to June 1, 2001.
  • FB-2A now has a cutoff date for all countries after it was current for everyone for the last two months.  All categories (FB-2A ROW, China, India, Mexico and Philippines) now have a cutoff date of September 8, 2013.
  • FB-2B ROW, China and India all move forward by two (2) weeks to March 1, 2006.  FB-2B Mexico moves forward by only two (2) weeks to March 8, 1994 while FB-2B Philippines moves forward by two (2) weeks to February 8, 2003.

Slow or No Movement for Many

The October 2013 Visa Bulletin does not bring much good news.   Most categories remain unchanged, some retrogress and when there is forward movement, it is very slow.    Not a great start for the 2014 Fiscal Year.   It should be noted, however, that the cutoff dates have been advancing rapidly over the past few months for many categories and the fact that there is not much movement this month should be taken together with the recent significant movement for many.

Last two month’s significant advancement was done in order to utilize all of the available visa numbers for the fiscal year (which ends on September 30th).   The Department of State and USCIS are expecting (and our office already has seen) increased activity in this category — National Visa Center (NVC) case processing and I-485 adjustment of status activity at USCIS.    During our analysis on the September 2013 Visa Bulletin, we predicted that “with the increased activity over the next few months in EB-2 India, slowdown and even retrogression are possible. ”

FB-2A Cutoff Date Introduced – Spouses and Children of Green Card Holders

Another very significant development this month is the introduction of a cutoff date for the FB-2A category.    We expected such cutoff date to be introduced this month.    The Department of State has indicated that this category has seen good volume of filings and, in an effort to “slow down” the rate of new filings, they are introducing a September 2013 cutoff date.

It is important to note that the Department of State has indicated that a cutoff date will be imposed starting October 1, 2013 — until then, the FB-2A cutoff date is “current” and allows for concurrent filing of I-130 and I-485 petitions (for those who are in the U.S. physically).    It is important for those who are eligible to file under the FB-2A category to do so as soon as possible.

Current Priority Date?

Our office stands ready to assist in the applicable process to take advantage of this significant movement in the cutoff dates across many of the categories, specifically in EB-2 India, EB-3 and FB-2A all countries.   Those applicants whose priority dates are current as of the October 2013 Visa Bulletin may be eligible to process their (and their family members’) I-485 Adjustment of Status applications from within the U.S. or process their immigrant visa at a U.S. Consulate abroad.   Please do not hesitate to contact us if our office can help you take advantage of this significant forward movement in the cutoff dates.    We are also happy to provide a free quote for preparing and filing your I-485 application.

Further Updates and News

We invite you to subscribe to our free weekly immigration newsletter to receive timely updates on this and related topics.  We also invite you to contact us if our office can be of any assistance in your immigration matters or you have any questions or comments about the October 2013 Visa Bulletin.  Finally, if you already haven’t, please consider our Visa Bulletin Predictions tool which provides personalized predictions and charts helping you understand when a particular priority date may become current and what are the movement patterns.

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USCIS Clarifies Eligibility and Timelines for Filing I-485 for Diversity Visa Lottery Selectees

In a memorandum dated August 9, 2013, USCIS has released guidance and clarifications pertaining to the options and timelines for Diversity Visa (DV) selectees who choose to process their green card from within the U.S. by filing I-485, Application to Adjust Status.   The memo seeks to provide clarification to those DV selectees who choose to file I-485 from within the US and, specifically, to indicate that I-485 can be filed when the advance notification number becomes current.   This is done to ensure that I-485 applications can be filed earlier in anticipation of a visa number being current by the time the I-485 is ready for adjudication and approval.

Background of the Ways Diversity Visa Selectees Can Obtain Their Green Cards

Many of our readers who are familiar with the DV lottery are aware that there are two ways to process one’s green card — by processing through the National Visa Center (NVC)/U.S. Consulate or by filing with USCIS a Form I-485 from within the U.S. (for those who are physically in the U.S.).     The USCIS memo focuses only on those who elect to file I-485.   By law, DV visas expire at the end of a given fiscal year; accordingly, a DV adjustment applicant’s Form I-485 (including principals and any of their derivatives) must be adjudicated and approved on or before September 30 of the relevant fiscal year.   Recognizing that it often takes several months to process and approve an I-485 application, USCIS and the Department of State (DOS have created a system where DOS announced, in the monthly Visa Bulletin,  “advance notification” numbers in addition to the “normal” visa availability numbers in order to allow I-485 DV selectees to file their I-485s a little bit earlier.

Rationale of the Advance Notification Numbers

To ensure timely notification and encourage timely filing of applications for adjustment of status, approximately 50 to 60 days in advance of actual DV visa availability, DOS, in consultation with USCIS, publishes in its monthly Visa Bulletin a separate “advance notification” of DV rank cut-off numbers. Such advance notification enables persons to file their Form I-485 applications prior to the time a DV visa becomes “immediately available.” The listing of advance notification of DV availability is meant to enable a person to file his or her adjustment application, even though a visa is not yet available.

This advance notification provides an opportunity for DV adjustment of status applicants to file their Form I-485 applications earlier than would otherwise be possible, thereby enabling USCIS to begin review of such applications. This in turn affords USCIS additional time to determine an applicant’s eligibility for adjustment of status before the end of the fiscal year.

Mechanics of the Advance Notification Numbers Listed in each Visa Bulletin
The Department of State publishes its monthly Visa Bulletin on or about the ninth day of each month. Each Visa Bulletin indicates immigrant visa availability for the upcoming month (e.g., November immigrant visa cut-off numbers are published on October 9). For DV purposes, the Visa Bulletin currently includes two monthly allocation charts which provide: (1) DV visa availability for the current Visa Bulletin month; and, (2) advance notification of DV visa availability for the following month.
Availability Section.  When a DV rank cut-off number (from the DV notification letter) is listed in the availability section of the Visa Bulletin, visas will be available in that month for applicants with DV numbers ranked (in randomly selected order by region) below the specified cut-off number.   The listing of the DV rank cut-off number indicates the DV rank number of the first person who is not eligible to adjust his or her status in a particular month.

Advance Notification Section.  The rank cut-off number listed in the advance notification section indicates the DV rank cut-off numbers for the specific month covered by the advance notification. Anyone with a rank number below the listed rank cut-off number in the Visa Bulletin may file an adjustment of status application.

USCIS DV I-485 Case Procedures.   As of January 11, 2012, the USCIS Case Resolution Unit at the Lockbox reviews every DV-related Form I-485 for visa availability at the time of filing by verifying that the applicant’s rank number is lower than the advance notification cut-off number posted in the most recently published DOS monthly Visa Bulletin.   The officer  will confirm at time of final adjudication of the Form I-485 adjustment application (i.e., when all required processing has been completed) that the DV rank cut-off number is lower than the applicable rank cut-off number posted in the DOS’s current Visa Bulletin.  As a last step, the officer must also confirm that a DV visa number is actually available, before he or she may approve the adjustment application by submitting an electronic request for the DV visa – this is when the I-485 gets approved and the green card ordered for physical production.

It is important to note that these guidelines based on “advance notification” do not apply to I-485 DV applications filed for the current fiscal year in September because such applications must be adjudicated by end of September (the end of the fiscal year).     On the other hand, these guidelines do apply to adjustment applications that are filed on the basis of advance notification in the prior year’s September Visa Bulletin for the next fiscal year’s DV numbers.

Conclusion

We hope that these clarifications would help DV selectees who are eligible to apply for I-485 processing of their green card to better understand the I-485 DV processing option and to take advantage of the opportunity to file their I-485 little bit earlier to ensure that their I-485 application can be approved faster and before the end of the applicable fiscal year on September 30th.     Our office is ready and available to assist in this kind of situations.     We invite you to subscribe to our free weekly immigration newsletter to receive timely updates on this and related topics.  We also invite you to contact us if our office can be of any assistance in your immigration matters or you have any questions or comments.

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September 2013 Visa Bulletin – EB-2 India and EB-3 Advance Significantly; FB-2A Remains Current But For Not Much Longer

The U.S. State Department has just released the September 2013 Visa Bulletin which is the last Visa Bulletin for the FY2013 fiscal year.   The major headline in the upcoming month’s Visa Bulletin is the continued significant forward movement in EB-2 India, the significant forward movement in EB-3 and the fact that FB-2A remains current for every country but with an expected cutoff date next month.

Summary of the September 2013 Visa Bulletin – Employment-Based (EB)

Below is a summary of the September 2013 Visa Bulletin with respect to employment-based petitions:

  • EB-1 remains current across the board.
  • EB-2 for ROW, Mexico and Philippines are all current.    EB-2 India moves forward (again) by six (6) months to June 15, 2008.  EB-2 China remains unchanged at August 8, 2008.
  • EB-3 ROW, China and Mexico move forward significantly by eighteen (18) months to July 1, 2010.  EB-3 Philippines moves forward by five (5) weeks to December 1, 2006, while EB-3 India  moves forward significantly by nine (9) months to September 22, 2003.
  • The “other worker” category moves forward significantly by eighteen (18) months to July 1, 2010 for ROW and Mexico to July 1, 2010.  It moves forward by five (5) weeks to December 1, 2006 for Philippines and moves forward by two and a half (2.5) months to June 15, 2004 for China.  There is forward movement by nine (9) months for India to September 22, 2003.

Summary of the September 2013 Visa Bulletin – Family-Based (FB)

Below is a summary of the September 2013 Visa Bulletin with respect to family-based petitions:

  • FB-1 continues to move forward, although slowly.  FB-1 ROW, China and India all move forward by two (2) weeks to September 15, 2006.   FB-1 Mexico moves forward by only one (1) week to September 8, 1993 and FB-1 Philippines moves forward by four (4) months to May 8, 2001.
  • FB-2A continues to remain current for everyone.
  • FB-2B ROW, China and India all move forward by two and a half  (2.5) months to February 15, 2006.  FB-2B Mexico moves forward by three (3) weeks to February 22, 1994 while FB-2B Philippines moves forward by one (1) month to January 22, 2003.

EB-2 India Moves Forward Again

Until a month ago, EB-2 India had been stuck at September 1, 2004 (since the October 2012 Visa Bulletin) – this is when EB-2 India retrogressed significantly and until today there had been no movement in this category.  After the August 2013 Visa Bulletin showed significant forward movement for EB-2 India, we welcome the continuing forward movement in this category in the September 2013 Visa Bulletin.   Although this month’s movement of about six month may not be significant enough for many, it is still a very notable forward movement which would allow many EB-2 India applicants to either complete their I-485 processing or file an I-485 for themselves or their dependents.

The Department of State has indicated that this significant advancement has been done in order to utilize all of the available visa numbers for the fiscal year (which ends on September 30th).   The Department of State and USCIS are expecting (and our office already has seen) increased activity in this category — National Visa Center (NVC) case processing and I-485 adjustment of status activity at USCIS.    It should be noted that with the increased activity over the next few months in EB-2 India, slowdown and even retrogression are possible.

EB-3 Moves Forward Significantly

In addition to EB-2 India, the September 2013 Visa Bulletin brings good news to folks under the EB-3 category.  The most notable movement is for ROW, China and Mexico where the movement is by eighteen months.   EB-3 India also moves nicely forward – by 9 months.   EB-3 Philippines may be disappointed by the relatively slow movement of about five weeks.  This significant forward movement is caused in an effort to make sure that there are no unused visa numbers for the fiscal year (to end on September 30th).

FB-2A Remains Current – Spouses and Children of Green Card Holders – Cutoff Date Upcoming

Another very significant development brought by the August 2013 Visa Bulletin and continuing (as expected) for the September 2013 Visa Bulletin is making FB-2A current for all countries.   The Department of State has indicated that this category will continue to be “Current” for September and is expected to remain so for the next few months.   The reason is that the Department of State wants to stimulate an increased level of “demand” (filings) in this category.     The Department of State reports that even though there are large amounts of registered F2A demand, currently there are not enough applicants (NVC fees paid and I-485 adjustment of status cases filed) who are actively pursuing final action on their case to fully utilize all of the available numbers.

It is important to note that the Department of State has indicated that a cutoff date will be imposed for the October 2013 Visa Bulletin.  As a result, it is important for those who are eligible to file under the FB-2A category to do so as soon as possible.

No Movement in EB-2 China

Those of our clients who are in the EB-2 China category will find it disappointing that there is no movement in the EB-2 China category (again!).     Hopefully, with the new fiscal year beginning on October 1st, the next Visa Bulletin would bring better news for EB-2 China.

Current Priority Date?

Our office stands ready to assist in the applicable process to take advantage of this significant movement in the cutoff dates across many of the categories, specifically in EB-2 India, EB-3 and FB-2A all countries.   Those applicants whose priority dates are current as of the September 2013 Visa Bulletin may be eligible to process their (and their family members’) I-485 Adjustment of Status applications from within the U.S. or process their immigrant visa at a U.S. Consulate abroad.   Please do not hesitate to contact us if our office can help you take advantage of this significant forward movement in the cutoff dates.    We are also happy to provide a free quote for preparing and filing your I-485 application.

Further Updates and News

We invite you to subscribe to our free weekly immigration newsletter to receive timely updates on this and related topics.  We also invite you to contact us if our office can be of any assistance in your immigration matters or you have any questions or comments about the September 2013 Visa Bulletin.  Finally, if you already haven’t, please consider our Visa Bulletin Predictions tool which provides personalized predictions and charts helping you understand when a particular priority date may become current and what are the movement patterns.

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August 2013 Visa Bulletin – EB-2 India Moves Forward Significantly; FB-2A is Current

The U.S. State Department has just released the August 2013 Visa Bulletin which is the eleventh Visa Bulletin for the FY2013 fiscal year.   The major headline in the upcoming month’s Visa Bulletin is the significant forward movement in EB-2 India, FB-2A being current for every country and the lack of movement for EB-3.

Summary of the August 2013 Visa Bulletin – Employment-Based (EB)

Below is a summary of the August 2013 Visa Bulletin with respect to employment-based petitions:

  • EB-1 remains current across the board.
  • EB-2 for ROW, Mexico and Philippines are all current.    EB-2 India moves forward (finally!) by three years and four months to January 1, 2008.  EB-2 China remains unchanged at August 8, 2008.
  • EB-3 ROW, China and Mexico remain unchanged at January 1, 2009.  EB-3 Philippines moves forward by three (3) weeks to October 22, 2006, while EB-3 India  remains unchanged at January 22, 2003.
  • The “other worker” category remains unchanged for ROW and Mexico at January 1, 2009.  It moves forward by three (3) weeks to October 22, 2006 for Philippines and remains unchanged at March 22, 2004 for China and it also remains unchanged at January 22, 2003 for India.

Summary of the August 2013 Visa Bulletin – Family-Based (FB)

Below is a summary of the August 2013 Visa Bulletin with respect to family-based petitions:

  • FB-1 continues to move forward.  FB-1 ROW, China and India all move forward by three (3) months to September 1, 2006.   FB-1 Mexico moves forward by only one (1) week to September 1, 1993 and FB-1 Philippines moves forward by six (6) months to January 1, 2001.
  • FB-2A is current for everyone.
  • FB-2B ROW, China and India all move forward by one (1) month to December 1, 2005.  FB-2B Mexico moves forward by three  (4) months to February 1, 1994 while FB-2B Philippines remains unchanged at December 22, 2002.

EB-2 India Finally Moves Forward – Significantly

EB-2 India had been stuck at September 1, 2004 since the October 2012 Visa Bulletin – this is when EB-2 India retrogressed significantly and until today there had been no movement in this category.  We welcome the significant forward movement of three years and four months in this category — to January 1, 2008.   We had been expecting forward (see our predictions from June 13) movement in India this month and our office has been preparing for the increased activity which will inevitably result.
The Department of State has indicated that this significant advancement has been done in order to utilize all of the available visa numbers for the fiscal year (which ends on September 30th).   The Department of State and USCIS are expecting (and our office already has seen) increased activity in this category — National Visa Center (NVC) case processing and I-485 adjustment of status activity at USCIS.    It should be noted that with the increased activity over the next few months in EB-2 India, slowdown and even retrogression are possible.
FB-2A is Current – Spouses and Children of Green Card Holders

Another very significant development brought by the August 2013 Visa Bulletin is making FB-2A current for all countries.   The Department of State has indicated that this category has become “Current” for August, and is expected to remain so for the next several months.   The reason is that the Department of State wants to stimulate an increased level of “demand” (filings) in this category.     The Department of State reports that even though there are large amounts of registered F2A demand, currently there are not enough applicants (NVC fees paid and I-485 adjustment of status cases filed) who are actively pursuing final action on their case to fully utilize all of the available numbers.

No Movement in EB-3 and EB-2 China

Many of our clients and readers who are not EB-2 India or FB-2A would be disappointed by the lack of movement in the other employment-based categories.   EB-2 China and EB-3 remain unchanged.   The Department of State had indicated (and we reported) that EB-3 ROW and China would not move forward for the remainder of the fiscal year; but we are surprised to see that EB-2 China and EB-3 India also did not move this month.    It is possible that the Department of State would make final adjustments in these categories for the last Visa Bulletin next month; although we do not expect major (if any) developments for EB-3.
Current Priority Date?

Our office stands ready to assist in the applicable process to take advantage of this significant movement in the cutoff dates across many of the categories, specifically in EB-2 India and FB-2A all countries.   Those applicants whose priority dates are current as of the August 2013 Visa Bulletin may be eligible to process their (and their family members’) I-485 Adjustment of Status applications from within the U.S. or process their immigrant visa at a U.S. Consulate abroad.   Please do not hesitate to contact us if our office can help you take advantage of this significant forward movement in the cutoff dates.    We are also happy to provide a free quote for preparing and filing your I-485 application.

Further Updates and News

We invite you to subscribe to our free weekly immigration newsletter to receive timely updates on this and related topics.  We also invite you to contact us if our office can be of any assistance in your immigration matters or you have any questions or comments about the August 2013 Visa Bulletin.  Finally, if you already haven’t, please consider our Visa Bulletin Predictions tool which provides personalized predictions and charts helping you understand when a particular priority date may become current and what are the movement patterns.

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Texas Service Center Retracts Derivative Applicants’ I-485 RFEs

Many of our clients and readers are already aware of the June 13, 2013 “RFE blizzard” where U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (“USCIS”) issued thousands of identical  requests for evidence (“RFE”) on pending employment-based primary and derivative Form I-485, Application to Adjust Status.  Many would remember that in our article from two weeks ago, we discussed how derivative I-485 applicants should not have been issued such an RFE.  Now, in another set of thousands of notices, most dated June 26, USCIS is informing derivative I-485 applicants that their I-485 RFE is essentially retracted and they no longer need to respond to it.   Please see a redacted sample of the RFE retraction notice.

Derivative Applicants Receiving RFE Retraction Letter – I-485 RFE Response Optional; Primary Applicants Must Respond to June 13 RFE

It is important to underscore what this notice means and what it does not mean.   Derivative applicants  (spouses and children) who received the June 13, 2013 I-485 RFE and who now received this RFE retraction notice do not have to respond to the June 13 RFE any longer.   USCIS is specific in the RFE retraction notice in saying that a derivative I-485 application will not be denied for failure to respond to the June 13 RFE.

However, and very importantly, if a derivative I-485 applicants has an RFE which is different than the June 13 RFE (see sample), USCIS will expect to receive an RFE response or they can deny the I-485 derivative application.    Also, primary applicants who received the June 13 RFE are expected to respond to it on time or their application (including the derivative I-485) application may be denied for failure of the primary applicant to respond to the June 13 RFE.

Attorney Assistance with Preparing RFE Response

Our office will be happy to provide consultations or assistance with responding to this (or other) kind of RFE.    If you would like to schedule a consultation with an attorney to discuss a specific case (but perhaps without engaging us to help with the RFE filing), we offer phone consultations.

We are also happy and available to assist with a more comprehensive RFE response representation.   Please feel free to complete this RFE inquiry form and we will be happy to provide thoughts and, if applicable, a quote for our legal assistance.

Conclusion

As USCIS is preparing to adjudicate visa-retrogressed I-485 applications, we expect busy July and August months, especially if the August 2013 Visa Bulletin shows forward movement in many of the heavily-retrogressed categories.   For many applicants, however, who may expect to see their priority become current over the next two to three months (see our expectations), responding to this kind of an RFE becomes very time-sensitive in order to have a complete case ready for approval once the priority date becomes current.

Please feel free to subscribe to our free weekly newsletter to obtain developments on this and related topics. If our office can be of any help, please feel free to contact us.


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