December Visa Bulletin and Update from Mr. Oppenheim

 

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The Department of State recently released the December 2015 visa bulletin and Mr. Charlie Oppenheim, the person at the Department of State in charge of the Visa Bulletin also recently gave AILA an update on his predictions for future movement of the Bulletin.  I will summarize both of these documents below.

Family Based:

Final Action Date:

Most categories moved forward about 1 months.  The one date to highlight is the F2A Category (Spouses and Children of Permanent Residents) which is now at June 15, 2014.

Application Filing Dates:

No Movement

Guidance:

Here is what Mr. Oppenheim has to say on family based categories:

F-2A and F-2B: Last year, the family-based 2B category advanced very quickly because the demand did not initially materialize. The dates have now advanced to the point where demand is materializing. A similar phenomenon is occurring with regard to F-2A. The agent of choice letters are not spurring sufficient demand, so until demand materializes, we can expect to see continued advancements in this category. As noted previously, the response rate is low in many of the family-based preference categories.

Employment Based:

Final Action Dates:

EB-2: The only real movement was India, which jumped from August 1, 2006 to July 1, 2007.  China stayed in 2012 and the rest of the world is still Current.

EB-3:  Everyone, except India moved forward about 1 month.  China moved to April 15, 2012, the Philippines moved to August 1, 2007 and Mexico and the rest of the World moved to September 15, 2015.  Unfortunately India stayed at April 22, 2004.

Application Filing Dates:

No Movement.  USCIS did indicate they would accept I-485 application based upon these dates in December 2015.

In giving his guidance, Mr Oppenheim stated that the forward movement on the India EB-2 numbers is attributable to correcting the large rollback in the dates that occurred at the end of last fiscal year.  Mr. Oppenheim projects that EB-2 India may advance monthly by as much as eight months over the course of the next few months. However, this would be the best case scenario, and the actual advancement is likely to be around four to six months at a time. On the downside, this forward movement will most likely spur  EB-3 upgrades which will eventually impact demand, slowing EB-2 India advancement. Mr. Oppenheim expects the upgrade demand will start to materialize in December/January which will slow advancement in early 2016. Should the demand fail to materialize at the expected rate, then the “up to eight” month movement could occur.

Guidance:

In terms of China, the EB-2 China final action date will remain the same in December 2015 and Mr. Oppenheim does not anticipate much, if any movement in this category over the next few months as he already expects that number use will exceed the targeted usage for the first quarter of the fiscal year.  Since the final action date for EB-3 China is later than the EB-2 China final action date, Mr. Oppenheim expects that some EB-2 China cases will downgrade to EB-3, which will take some of the demand pressure off of EB-2 China. This phenomenon has happened the last two years and ultimately results in increased EB-3 demand which slows movement or even retrogresses that category, while at the same time allowing EB-2 China to advance once again. Mr. Oppenheim expects this rebalancing to occur at some point next year, possibly as early as April.

 

Please remember, as always, this blog does not offer legal advice. If you need legal advice, consult with a lawyer instead of a blog. Thank you.

USCIS Updates its Directions for Use of the New Visa Bulletin Tables

AoS_WebGraphic_V5USCIS has updated its directions in terms of when the new “Dates for Filing Visa Applications” chart can be used to determine when you can file your I-485, or if you need to wait for the “Final Action Date” to become current.

To refresh people’s memories, the Department of State, starting with the October Visa Bulletin, changed the way they report priority dates for immigrant visas.  They now have two charts that they present for family based immigrant visas, and two charts for employment based immigrant visas.  The first chart, the ‘Final Action Date” coincides with the old visa bulletin and lists the date at which a final action can be taken on the I-485 case and an immigrant visa can be issued.  The second chart, the “Dates for Filing Visa Applications” coincides with the date that the Department of State uses to let Embassies and Consulates know when to start processing immigrant visa cases that they think will become current in the near future.  USCIS is now also using this second chart to determine when you can file the I-485 application if you are in the US, with one proviso.  Each Month USCIS will determine whether they are following this second chart or not.  If so, you can file your I-485 according to the “Dates for Filing…” chart.  If not, you can only file when your date is current on the “Final Action Date” chart.

We knew all this previously, but USCIS’s decision on whether to use the “Date for Filing…” chart was listed in the Visa Bulletin itself.  However, starting with the November Visa Bulletin, USCIS no longer lists that data in the Visa Bulletin, instead it appears elsewhere on their website.  According to USCIS:

Beginning with the November 2015 Department of State (DOS) Visa Bulletin, if USCIS determines that there are more immigrant visas available for a fiscal year than there are known applicants for such visas, we will state on www.uscis.gov/visabulletininfo that applicants may use the Dates for Filing Visa Applications chart.  Unless otherwise stated on our website, the Application Final Action Date chart will be used to determine when individuals may file their adjustment of status applications.

We anticipate making this determination each month and posting the relevant chart on our website within one week of DOS’ publication of the Visa Bulletin.

For those who are trying to determine when you can file, the USCIS website is not where you will have to go to ensure you have updated information in this regard.

Please remember, as always, this blog does not offer legal advice. If you need legal advice, consult with a lawyer instead of a blog. Thank you.

October Visa Bulletin and Check in With the Dept. of State

Because of the new format of the Visa Bulletin, it will be easier for me to break these updates into two sections:  Section 1 will discuss the Final Action Date; and, Section 2 will discuss movements in the Dates for Filing section.

Final Action Date Movements:

Family Based:  Most categories moved forward somewhere between 1-2 months.  Some of the categories for the Philippines, etc. moved forward a little more than that (up to six months) but that was only in a couple of categories.

Employment Based:

EB-1:  Still current for everyone

EB-2:  Big move in China (which we had indicated could happen as early as October) from 2006 to January 1, 2012.  Unfortunately, India went the opposite way – from January 1, 20016 to May 1, 2005.

EB-3:  Most of the world stayed at August 15, 2015, however there was movement for certain countries.  China, once again, moved forward rapidly to October 15, 2011 (from 2004) and the Philippines moved from December 22, 2004 to January 1, 2007.  Unfortunately, once again, India retrogressed somewhat, going from December 22, 2004 to March 8, 2004.

Other Workers:  Again, most of the world stayed at August 15, 2015, the Philippines and India saw the exact same movement in this category as was stated above for the EB-3 category.  China progressed from January 1, 2004 to January 1, 2006

Dates for Filing

As this is the first month for this new section, we will just look at what the dates are.  Also, every month at the beginning of this section I will indicate whether USCIS is accepting Adjustment of Status Applications based upon this date (they are going to make this decision on a monthly basis).  It is also important to remember that the dates in this category are based upon the Department of State’s prediction of where the Final Action Dates will move within the next year.

For the Month of October USCIS will accept I-485 application based upon this date.

Family Based:  Most categories have a Date for Filing about 1 year or so ahead of the Final Action date.  A good example is the F2A (Spouses and Children of Permanent Residents).  The Final Action Date is April 15, 2014 and the Date for Filing is March 1, 2015.

Employment Based:

EB1:  As with the Final Action Date this is current for all countries

EB2:  This is more interesting.  While most countries are current, India and China are backlogged in this category.  China, for the final action date, is in 2012, but the Date for filing is at May 1, 2014.  So anyone from China with an approved or pending I-140 in the Eb-2 category with a priority date on or before May 1, 2014 (and in the US legally) can file their I-485 come October 1, 2015.

More interestingly, India, which saw their Final Action Date actual go backwards to 2005, has a Date for Filing of July 1, 2011.  As stated above, this means that the DOS feels that they will be getting close to this date in the next year or so.

EB3 and Other Workers:  This is at September 15, 2015 (about 1 month ahead of the Final Action Date) for most of the world.  Exception are India, which is at July 1, 2005 (meaning there will not be much movement in this category for India over the next year), China, which is at October 1, 2013 for the EB3 category and January 1, 2007 for the Other Worker Category, and the Philippines, which is at January 2, 2015 for both categories (again, foreshadowing that there will be good movement in the Final Action date in these categories for the Philippines in the next year).

Check in With Charlie Oppenheim

The American Immigration Lawyers Association had its monthly check in with Mr. Oppenheim, the person at the DOS who is in charge of setting the above dates.  Basically, they just reviewed the new format of the Visa Bulletin with him.  However there was one item worth mentioning. When discussing what, if any impact, the Dates for Filing would have on the Final Action Dates, Mr. Oppenheim felt there would be little change except that By having USCIS allowing the filing of the I-485 based upon the Dates for Filing will give the DOS a better grasp of the actual numbers of applicants out there waiting for immigrant visas.  This will result in less wild swings in the dates and more steady movements forward (hopefully).

Please remember, as always, this blog does not offer legal advice. If you need legal advice, consult with a lawyer instead of a blog. Thank you.

August 2015 Visa Bulletin and Guidance from DOS on future Movement

Last week the August 2015 visa bulletin came out.   While there were not many major changes, there are some worth noting.

First, in terms of family based numbers, most categories moved forward about 1 month for All Other Countries.  Numbers for Mexico, China, India and the Philippines either stayed at the same date or move forward slightly.  The person at the DOS in charge of Visa Numbers, Charles Oppenheim, did issue guidance saying that the F2A category – Spouses of Permanent Residents, which has been moving forward fairly steadily, would continue to do so for the foreseeable future because of lack of demand.

Moving to employment based, there is more to report:

EB-2:  Most of the world is current for EB-2 except India and China.  India remained in 2008, but China continues its forward movement to December 15, 2013, a jump of 2.5 months.  Mr. Oppenheim says that China will most likely move forward again in September (or, at the worst, hold steady).  India will not move forward.

EB-3:  This category saw the biggest changes.  Worldwide numbers moved forward to July 15, 2015, a jump of 3 months.  Mr. Oppenheim projects that this number will move forward again in September, but he may hold it steady in October and November just to see if additional demand appears.  For China, EB-2 when from 2011 back to 2004, a retrogression of 7 years. According to Mr. Oppenheim, this is because unused family numbers for China that he had been predicting would fall down to the EB-2 category are not materializing (i.e. more family based visas are being used than he thought).  Therefore he had to backlog China.  However he does feel that forward movement (and moving China back to 2011) will happen in October.

Any question?  Please feel free to contact me.  Please remember, as always, this blog does not offer legal advice. If you need legal advice, consult with a lawyer instead of a blog. Thank you.

Department of State Passport and Visa System Off Line

dealing-with-computer-problems-at-work-can-be-frustrating-_16000623_800533407_0_0_7030738_300As of June 15, 2015 the Department of State has been experiencing severe issues with its computer system, which is preventing them from issues visas and passports.  According to the DOS:

This is a global issue, and we are working around the clock to fix it. More than 100 computer experts from both the private and public sectors across the United States are working on this problem 24/7. That said, we do not expect the system will be online before next week. The problems stem from a hardware failure in a State Department facility in the United States on June 9. That failure is preventing the Department from processing and transmitting biometric data checks at visa-issuing embassies and consulates. We cannot bypass the legal requirements to screen visa applicants before we issue visas for travel. Each visa decision is a national security decision, and we take our obligation to protect the United States seriously.

You can read more about it at the DOS website here.

We will update you as soon as this changes.