May 2020 Visa Bulletin and Guidance from Mr. Oppenheim are out

UnknownThe biggest news this month is that the EB-1 category came current for Most Countries (but not all).  Additionally, the EB-2 category remained current.  Otherwise, there was movement but not much in terms of surprises.  Mr. Oppenheim did ensure us that the Visa Bulletin is being processed based upon the same infomration in the past during this difficult time.  However, as he is working remotely, he did not have access to the necessary databases when talking with AILA this month, so was unable to make precise predictions.  Details are below:

Family Based Categories

F1: Moved forward almost three months to March 22, 2014 for most of the World EXCEPT  Mexico (moved forward about 1 month October 22, 1997) and the Philippines (moved forward 6 months to September 1, 2010).

F2A: Remained Current for the World.

F2B: Moved forward two and a half months to January 15, 2015 for most of the World EXCEPT  Mexico (moved forward about one and a half months to January 15, 1999) and the Philippines (moved forward 4 months to June 1, 2010).

F3: Moved forward about one and a half months to March 15, 2008  for most of the World EXCEPT  Mexico (moved forward one month to June 8, 1996) and the Philippines (moved forward 6 months to November 15, 2000).

F4: Moved forward about three weeks to July 22, 2006 for most of the World EXCEPT  India (moved forward about 2 weeks to January 8, 2005), Mexico (moved forward about 1 month to April 15, 1998) and the Philippines (moved forward 5 months to October 1, 2000.

UPDATE FROM DOS:

Mr. Oppenheim stated that all family categories should continue to move forward consistent with his projections last month.

Employment-Based Preference Categories

EB-1:  is now CURRENT for most of the world EXCEPT China (moved forward about 1 month to  July 15, 2017) and India (moved forward about three months to August 1, 2015).

EB-2:  Stayed Current for most of the world EXCEPT China (moved forward about 1 month to September 15, 2015) and India (moved forward about one week to June 2, 2009).

EB-3:  Stayed BACKLOGGED to January 1, 2017 for most of the world EXCEPT China (moved forward one month to May 15, 2016) and India (moved forward over one month to March 1, 2009).

UPDATE FROM DOS:

No further predictions were given this month. Hopefully Mr. Oppenheim can get us this information next month.

Please contact us with any questions or concerns.  And 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.

Update on USCIS, DOS, SEVP and Covid-19

This is just an update on what is and is not happening with USCIS, DOS and SEVP during the Covid-19 pandemic. First, it is important to remember that things are changing so current USCIS policy may change very soon. To keep updated with current policies, you can go to the USCIS homepage at http://www.uscis.gov.

USCIS

Field Offices:

All USCIS field offices are closed to the public. This means that no biometrics appointments or interviews are being made at this time. This is in force through at least May 3, 2020 (we do not yet know if USCIS will extend this or not).

However, USCIS has made two important concessions during this period. First, they are allowing offices to reuse old biometrics for those who have applied to renew their EAD and AP status (Employment Authorization Documents and Advanced Parole). Second, USCIS has extended the time allowed to respond to Requests for Evidence (RFEs), Notices of Intent to Deny, Notices of Intent to Revoke, as well as the time to appeal decisions (this applies to all such notices with an issuance date listed on the request, notice or decision is between March 1, 2020 and May 1, 2020, inclusive.). USCIS policy now states:

Any response to an RFE, NOID, NOIR, or NOIT received within 60 calendar days after the response due date set in the request or notice will be considered by USCIS before any action is taken. Any Form I-290B received up to 60 calendar days from the date of the decision will be considered by USCIS before it takes any action.

Service Centers:

USCIS service centers are open and adjudicating cases. Currently all service centers are open. However, it should be noted that some centers have closed temporarily in the past when a suspected case of Covid-19 has appeared in one of the employees. However, they have reopened the service centers within days.

Any applications that require biometrics appointments or interviews are on hold, however as the field offices are closed to the public (as are the biometrics centers). The only exception are EAD and AP applications for those who have had biometrics in the past. USCIS has issued a policy allowing those applications to go forward based upon the previous biometrics.

As stated above, USCIS has automatically extended the time to respond to requests for evidence, etc. for an additional 60 days after the due date.

Overseas Offices

Currently overseas offices are being closed on an as needed basis. Offices in Rome and Nairobi are currently closed, other offices are open if the Embassy itself is open. However, as most embassies are closed to the Public, so to are the USCIS offices at such embassies. They will continue to work and adjudicate cases as they can as long as in person interviews are not needed.

Department of State

Embassies

The Department of State has suspended routine immigrant and non-immigrant visa services at all Embassies and Consulates until further notice (No specific date was given). Here is a copy of their announcement:

A. Suspension of Routine Visa Services.

– In response to significant worldwide challenges related to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Department of State is temporarily suspending routine visa services at all U.S. Embassies and Consulates. Embassies and consulates will cancel all routine immigrant and nonimmigrant visa appointments as of March 20, 2020. As resources allow, embassies and consulates will continue to provide emergency and mission critical visa services. Our overseas missions will resume routine visa services as soon as possible but are unable to provide a specific date at this time.

– In response to significant worldwide challenges related to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Department of State is temporarily suspending routine visa services at all U.S. Embassies and Consulates. Embassies and consulates will cancel all routine immigrant and nonimmigrant visa appointments as of March 20, 2020. As resources allow, embassies and consulates will continue to provide emergency and mission critical visa services. Our overseas missions will resume routine visa services as soon as possible but are unable to provide a specific date at this time.

This does not affect the Visa Waiver Program. See https://esta.cbp.dhs.gov/faq?focusedTopic=Schengen%20Travel%20Proclamation for more information.

– Although all routine immigrant and nonimmigrant visa appointments are cancelled, the Machine Readable Visa (MRV) fee is valid and may be used for a visa appointment in the country where it was purchased within one year of the date of payment.

We are aware of the importance of the H-2 program to the economy and food security of the United States and intend to continue processing H-2 cases as much as possible.  For further information about the H-2 program, please visit: https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/News/visas-news/important-announcement-on-h2-visas.html

– Applicants with an urgent matter and need to travel immediately should follow the guidance provided at the Embassy’s website to request an emergency appointment. Examples of an urgent matter include air and sea crew, and medical personnel, particularly those working to treat or mitigate the effects of COVID-19.

J-1 Program

DOS has extended (automatically) the end date for certain J-1 non-immigrants in the United States. According to their memo DOS:

will now push a two-month extension to program end dates in SEVIS on active records with a program end date between April 1 – May 31, 2020 in order to provide exchange visitors the opportunity to complete either their educational or training programs, or continue to finalize travel plans to return home.”

Please remember this ONLY applies to programs with end dates between April 1 and May 31, 2020.

ICE AND SEVP (F-1 and M-1)

Here is a Link to SEVP policies for students at schools that have closed/moved to online coursework.

In summary, they have loosened rules in this regard to protect the status of those on F-1 and M-1 visas in the US whose schools have closed or are now just offering online classes. SEVP has stated that, under the circumstances outlines in the linked document, the status of such students will remain current and active as long as the procedures are followed. We urge you to review their guidance carefully if you are in such a situation.

As more changes are made we will update you as soon as possible.

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.

March Visa Bulletin Update – EB2 Remains current but EB3 Backlogged

UnknownThis past month’s Visa Bulletin had some bright spots and not so bright spots.  The biggest news is that the EB-2 category remained current and most likely will remain current next month as well.  Additionally, the EB-3 category was backlogged worldwide – and will most likely remain that way for the rest of the fiscal year (and, hopefully come back to current in October of this year).  Details are below:

Family Based Categories

F1: Moved forward almost a month and a half to October 8, 2013 for most of the World EXCEPT  Mexico (moved forward about 3 weeks to September 15, 1997) and the Philippines (moved forward 5 months to September 1, 2009).

F2A: Remained Current for the World.

F2B: Moved forward just over three weeks to September 15, 2014 for most of the World EXCEPT  Mexico (moved forward about 1 month to October 15, 1998) and the Philippines (moved forward 5 months to October 1, 2009).

F3: Moved forward about 3 week to December 15, 2007 for most of the World EXCEPT  Mexico (moved forward about 2 weeks to April 8, 1996) and the Philippines (moved forward 5 months to October 1, 1999).

F4: Stayed at July 1, 2006 for most of the World EXCEPT  India (moved forward about 2 weeks to December 8, 2004), Mexico (moved forward about 1 month to February 15, 1998) and the Philippines (moved forward 5 months to December 1, 1999).

UPDATE FROM DOS:

F2A demand has evened out and a cutoff is no longer certain – this category may just continue to remain current.

F4 While the Philippines has seen rapid forward movement in this category (as well as all others) Charlie believes it will not last and more demand will materialize requiring a halt to progress and perhaps a retrogression as well (in ALL categories for the Philippines).

Employment-Based Preference Categories

EB-1:  Moved forward about 3 months to March 1, 2019 for most of the world EXCEPT China (moved forward about 1 week to  June 1, 2017) and India (moved forward about 2 months to March 1, 2015).

EB-2:  Stayed Current for most of the world EXCEPT China (moved forward about 1 month to August 15, 2015) and India (moved forward 3 days to May 22, 2009).

EB-3:  BACKLOGGED to January 1, 2017 for most of the world EXCEPT China (moved forward almost 2 months to March 22, 2016), India (moved forward 1 week to January 15, 2009) and the Philippines (is now at worldwide levels).

UPDATE FROM DOS:

EB-1:  Based on currently available information, it remains possible–yet too early to confirm–that this category could become current in the summer of 2020.  According to Charlie as long as usage remains steady in March, there will be a sizable jump in April.

EB-2:  Charlie notes that demand for EB-2 Worldwide numbers continues to trend in such a way that a final action date may be imposed at some point during the second half of FY2020.  Charlie believes that this will be necessary by June of 2020, if not earlier.

EB-3:  This category has now retrogressed for worldwide numbers – there is not much chance that it will move forward much until the new fiscal year in October of 2020.

Please contact us with any questions or concerns.  And 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.

February Visa Bulletin and Update from DOS

UnknownOnce again the EB-2 category has remained current despite the projections that there could be a backlog (although, as you will see below, we are not yet out of the woods on the EB-2 retrogression as of yet).  Below are the movements in most Family and Employment categories as well as an update from Charlie Oppenheim of the Department of State on probable movement in the near future.

Family Based Categories

F1: Moved forward a little over a month to August 22, 2013 for most of the World EXCEPT  Mexico (moved forward about 2 weeks to August 22, 1997) and the Philippines (moved forward 2.5 months to April 1, 2009).

F2A: Remained Current for the World

F2B: Moved forward almost two weeks to August 22, 2014 for most of the World EXCEPT  Mexico (moved forward about 3 weeks to September 15, 1998) and the Philippines (moved forward 3 months to May 1, 2009).

F3: Moved forward about 1 week to November 22, 2007 for most of the World EXCEPT  Mexico (moved forward about 3 weeks to March 22, 1996) and the Philippines (moved forward 4 months to May 1, 1999).

F4: Moved BACKWARD about 8 months to July 1, 2006 for most of the World EXCEPT  India (moved forward about 2 weeks to November 22, 2004), Mexico (moved forward about 1 weeks to January 15, 1998) and the Philippines (moved forward 4 months to July 1, 1999).

UPDATE FROM DOS:

F2A will see a backlog in the coming months.  Charlie is not quite sure when, but it will occur.

F4 retrogressed due to a dramatic increase in demand for this category.  Expect this new date to be held for the next several months.

Employment-Based Preference Categories

EB-1:  Moved forward about 1 month to December 1, 2018 for most of the world EXCEPT China (held at May 22, 2017) and India (stayed at January 1, 2015).

EB-2:  Stayed Current for most of the world EXCEPT China (moved forward about 1 week to July 15, 2015) and India (moved forward 1 day to May 19, 2009).

EB-3:  Stayed Current for most of the world EXCEPT China (moved forward 1 month to January 1, 2016), India (moved forward 1 week to January 8, 2009) and the Philippines (moved forward about 2.5 months to June 1, 2018).

UPDATE FROM DOS:

EB-1: In February, the final action date for EB-1 Worldwide (including El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras, Mexico, Philippines, and Vietnam) advances two months to December 1, 2018. Based on currently available information, it remains possible–yet too early to confirm–that this category could become current in the summer of 2020.

EB-2:  Charlie notes that demand for EB-2 Worldwide numbers continues to trend in such a way that a final action date may be imposed at some point during the second half of FY2020.

EB-3:  Charlie notes that EB-3 Worldwide and EB-3 Other Workers Worldwide will become subject to a final action date in March 2020. Charlie will determine what that date will be upon receipt of data from USCIS in February 2020.

Please contact us with any questions or concerns.  And 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.

Update on the new 90 Day Rule and USCIS

Immigration Lawyer in Houston New State Department 90-Day RuleBack in.    we wrote an article about the Department of State adopting a new rule on inadmissibility called the 90-day rule.  This replaced their previous 30/60 rule.  For a full rundown on the change in the regulation and what it means, see the article we wrote here.  Basically, the 90-day rule means that any activity contrary to non-immigrant intent done within 90 days of entry on any visa that requires such intent will be evidence of fraud (i.e. that you did not have non-immigrant intent when you were admitted to the United States).  At the time, we were not certain what USCIS’ stance on the new rule would be.  Now, we know.

Just recently USCIS amended it’s Adjudicator’s Handbook to include the following:

3. The U.S Department of State’s 90-Day Rule

The U.S. Department of State (DOS) developed ​a​ 90-day rule ​to​ assist consular officers in evaluating misrepresentation in cases involving ​a person who ​​violated his or her nonimmigrant status or whose conduct is or was inconsistent with representations made to either the consular officer concerning his or her​ intentions at the time of the visa application or to the immigration officer at the port of entry​.​

The 90-day rule is not a “rule” in the sense of being a binding principle or decision​. ​The rule is simply an analytical tool that may assist DOS officers in determining whether an applicant’s actions support a finding of fraud or misrepresentation in a particular case. This DOS 90-day rule is not binding on USCIS. Officers should continue to evaluate cases for potential fraud indicators and, when appropriate, refer cases to Fraud Detection and National Securityaccording to existing procedures.

While at first blush this may look like they are not adopting this rule, closer examination shows us that this is not necessarily the case.  The language used above is the SAME language that USCIS used to explain the previous 30/60 day rule.  So it seems that USCIS will now use the 90-day rule (albeit as a guiding principle more than as a rule).  However, as decisions by USCIS can be appealed to both the Administrative as well as the Civil Courts, it is important to remember that the rule is more nuanced if you are in the US rather than outside the US (where the DOS can make any decision they feel fit and there is no appeal).

While there have been no cases yet on the 90-day rule, there have been many on the 30/60-day rule.  Thos cases may help demonstrate what the Administrative Courts (at least) are going to do.  First, the Administrative Courts have fairly consistently found that the application of such a rule, although not required, CAN be done because they were persuaded by the Department of State’s reasoning in developing the rule.  They have found in many cases that the application of the rule does create the presumption of a misrepresentation, but have also found in certain cases, that the evidence submitted by the petitioner has overcome that presumption.  The Courts have also found (fairly consistently) that the marriage to a US Citizen and subsequent filing of a green card application, even if done within the 30/60 day time period, in and of itself, is not enough to find a misrepresentation or fraud.  In other words, the positives of being married to a US Citizen outweigh any negatives in this type of case – so unless there are other negatives, such cases should not be denied solely based upon the activities related to the marriage and immigration process that were conducted within 30 or 60 days of entry.

While we cannot know what will happen until cases are actually decided by the Administrative Courts specifically on the application of the 90-day rule, I think it is prudent to continue to follow past rulings in this area and to assume that the Courts will allow USCIS to use this rule as a guideline.

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.

 

 

March 2019 Visa Bulletin Released

UnknownRecently, the Department of State and Charlie Oppenheim released the new March 2019 Visa Bulletin.  Below is a summary of the movement in each category.

Family-Based cases:

 

F1: Final Action dates moved forward to about a month for most countries – October 22, 2011 for All Other Areas, China and India.  Mexico had no movement and stayed at August 1, 1997.  The Philippines moved forward about two weeks to April 1, 2007. Dates for Filing move to April 22, 2012 for All Areas, China and India, and stayed at September 22, 1999 for Mexico and moved to April 1, 2008 for the Philippines.

F2A: Final Action dates moved forward to a little over a month for most countries – January 8, 2017 for All Areas except Mexico, which moved to December 15, 2016. Dates for Filing moved forward slightly to December 8, 2017 for All Areas.

F2B: Final Action dates for most areas moved forward about three months – All Other Areas, China and India all moved to August 1, 2012. Mexico moved forward two months to September 22, 1997 and the Philippines only moved forward 3 weeks to July 22, 2007. Dates For Filing stayed at June 22, 2014 for All Other Areas, China and India.  Mexico moved forward about 4 months to February 8, 1998, and the Philippines moved forward about one week to January 22, 2008.

F3: Final Action dates moved forward only about 2 weeks for All Other Areas, India and China to September 8, 2006. Mexico moved forward about 3 weeks to January 15, 1996 and the Philippines moved forward almost 4.5 months to January 1, 1996. Dates for Filing moved forward about 1 month for All Other Areas, China and India to March 1, 2007. For Mexico, it stayed at June 8, 2000, and the Philippines moved forward 1 month to September 1, 1997.

F4: Final Action Dates moved forward 3 months to September 22, 2005 for All Other Areas and China. It moved forward about 2 weeks to July 8, 2004 for India. Mexico had no movement and stayed at February 8, 1998. The Philippines moved forward about 3 months to January 1, 1996. Dates for Filing mostly moved forward about 1 week (to June 22, 2006 for All Other Areas and China, to February 8, 2005 for India and to November 8, 1998 for Mexico). The Philippines moved forward about 1 month to January 8, 1997.

Employment-Based Categories

(Please note, because USCIS has consitently stated that employment-based categories will use Final Action Dates we will not discuss the Dates for Filing)

EB1: Moved forward about 1 month – to January 1, 2018 for most countries except India and China which moved to February 22, 2017.

EB2: Stayed Current for most countries except China (moved 3 months to January 1, 2016) and India (moved 3 days to April 9, 2009).

EB3: Stayed Current for most countries except China (moved about 1 week to July 8, 2015) and India (moved forward 1 month to May 22, 2009 – remaining ahead of the EB-2 date for India).  The Philippines moved forward 4 months to December 1, 2017.

Next month there should be another update from Charlie Oppenheim on future movement in all categories.  Please do contact me with any questions.

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

 

Potential Government Shutdown and What it Means for Immigration

imgresWhile it is not the first time that there has been a potential, or actual, shutdown of the US Government, it still does raise many questions about what, if any, immigration services will continue during any potential shutdown.  Below is a list of agencies and what they will be able to do, and what they will not do, during a shutdown:

Department of Labor (DOL):  Would not be impacted by a government shutdown. On September 28, 2018, President Trump signed a minibus appropriations bill funding DOL through the end of September 30, 2019.

USCIS: USCIS is a funded via user fees (application fees),  so if the government shuts down, it is generally business as usual. The exception to this is those programs that receive appropriated funds.  This includes E­Verify (including myEVerify and customer service), the EB­5 Immigrant Investor Regional Center Program, Conrad 30 J­1 doctors, and non­minister religious workers. As announced by USCIS on January 20, 2018, those programs may be suspended or otherwise impacted.  In terms of the programs and cases that USCIS cannot work on during the shutdown, while USCIS has not stated how it will handle such cases, in 2013, USCIS accepted late I­129 filings provided the petition was submitted with evidence that the primary reason for failing to timely file an extension of stay or change of status request was the government shutdown.

NOTE: USCIS confirmed that DACA renewal processing will continue during any

DOS: Visa and passport operations are fee­funded and should not be impacted by a lapse in appropriations, but operating status and funding will need to be monitored closely. If visa operations are affected, consular posts will generally only handle diplomatic visas and “life or death” emergencies.

 

CBP: Inspection and law enforcement personnel are considered “essential.” Ports of entry will be open; however, processing of applications filed at the border may be impacted.

ICE: ICE enforcement and removal operations will continue, and ICE attorneys will typically focus on the detained docket during a shutdown. The ICE Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) offices are unaffected since SEVP is funded by fees.

EOIR: Immigration court cases on the detained docket will proceed during the lapse in congressional appropriations while non­detained docket cases will be reset for a later date when funding resumes. Courts with detained dockets will receive all filings but will only process those involving detained dockets. Courts with only non­detained dockets will not be open and will not accept filings.

CIS Ombudsman: The DHS Office of the CIS Ombudsman would close and would not accept any inquiries through its online case intake system.

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

Check in With Charlie Oppenheim on Immigrant Visa Movement

UnknownCharlie Oppenheim has released some more information on how he sees immigrant visa usage heading this year.

Overall his  predictions are largely positive, with forward movement predicted in most categories.  However, it should be noted that the new USCIS policy requiring transfer of employment-based I-485s to field offices for interview is expected to increase volatility in final action date movement in employment-based categories. These categories may actually see faster advancement of certain final action dates in the near term because fewer cases will be adjudicated, though once the transition is complete and the USCIS adjudications process has stabilized, there may be slower movement or retrogression in certain categories depending on usage.

In addition, if there are delayed adjudications, this would  mean less visibility in demand for the State Department, which may result in more rapid forward movement (if Charlie does not know of pending cases, or projected usage, he cannot account for it in setting dates in the visa bulletin). The timeliness of the sharing of demand data by USCIS may also be impacted, as data will need to be pulled from multiple offices, as opposed to a more centralized approach to adjudications and data collection in the past.

The total number of visas used by USCIS as a whole during this fiscal year (or, at least, the first quarter of the fiscal year (October through December, 2017)) has decreased by several thousand as compared to FY2017. Charlie plans to advance categories as needed to generate sufficient demand to ensure usage of all available visa numbers, while trying not to do so too rapidly to avoid retrogression or unavailability.

In terms of specific categories:

Employment-Based Categories

EB-1 India and EB-1 China:  The imposition of a final action date for EB-1 China and EB-1 India in July/August/September of 2017, created pent up demand which was largely adjudicated in October, November and December of 2017. However, so far, this fiscal year, EB-1 India and EB-1 China have already used 7,000 and 4,500 visa numbers, respectively. Charlie expects these categories to remain current for the coming months, but the imposition of a final action date in the summer remains likely if the current rate of demand continues. This could, however, be delayed if the transition of I-485s to USCIS Field Offices results in slowed processing of EB-1 China and EB-1 India cases in the coming months.

EB-2 Worldwide: This category should remain current for the foreseeable future.

EB-2 and EB-3 China:  As stated in my last post, EB-2 China will advance just under two months to October 1, 2013, and EB-3 China will advance five months to September 15, 2014 in the February Visa Bulletin. According to Charlie this category will continue to  advance at a rate of two to three months each bulletin, and may progress at a faster pace to generate demand. EB-3 China is predicted to advance at a pace of “(u)p to five months.” Charlie advised that EB-3 China will likely continue to advance at a faster pace than EB-2 China.

However, this may “flip” around, and EB-2 China may start progressing at. Faster rate.   It is unclear whether this “flip” will occur in FY18 due to a combination of factors, including the availability of otherwise unused family-based preference numbers for China, and uncertainty as to how the transfer of employment-based I-485s to USCIS Field Offices will impact the speed of adjudications and the processing of upgrade and downgrade requests.

EB-2 India:  Again, as stated in my previous post, EB-2 India will advance by less than one month in February from November 22, 2008, to December 8, 2008. Given heavy demand, the February Visa Bulletin predicts modest forward movement for EB-2 India at a rate of “(u)p to two weeks.”

EB-3 India:  The final action date for EB-3 India will advance one month to December 1, 2006. The February Visa Bulletin predicts forward movement in this category at a pace of one to three months. Once the final action date advances beyond August 2007, Charlie will have very little visibility into demand. Once this occurs, there is the potential for rapid movement of the EB-3 India final action date to generate new demand. This may happen either late this fiscal year (August or September of this year) or next fiscal year.

EB-3 Philippines:  This category will advance two weeks to March 1, 2016, in February. Demand in this category is comfortable, but not extremely high, which means there is less room to advance this date significantly. Charlie is watching this category closely since there have been spikes in demand, and he does not want to advance the final action date too quickly to avoid future retrogression. At this time, demand in this category is heavily weighted toward consular processing, but it is expected that USCIS filings could increase significantly in the coming months.

Family Based Categories

Final action date movement tends to be less erratic and more predictable in the family-based categories since Charlie has greater visibility into demand patterns based on the fact that these cases are primarily adjudicated at consular posts rather than domestically by USCIS. Charlie predicts FB-1 Worldwide advancing at a pace of up to one month, FB-2A Worldwide advancing three to five weeks, FB-3 Worldwide advancing up to five weeks, and FB-4 worldwide advancing up to three weeks.

FB-1 Philippines and FB-2B Philippines, which had retrogressed in December, will advance seven months and 21 days in February, respectively. Charlie will continue to monitor demand carefully in these categories over the next several months. Recent volatility is attributable to the lack of visibility of rescheduled appointments made by applicants through the Department of State’s Global Support System (GSS). Charlie is working closely with the post in Manila to obtain more accurate demand data, and he hopes that as a result, these dates will slowly advance and recover.

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.

February 2018 Visa Bulletin Released

UnknownUSCIS has released the February 2018 Visa Bulletin. While there is certainly some movement forward, the guidance given by Mr. Oppenheim last month is still in effect and has not changed. Relevant changes are listed below.

Employment Based Immigrant Visas:

EB-1A: Still current for all Countries

EB-2: Current for Worldwide. China is at October 1, 2013, a jump of almost two months. India is at December 8, 2008, forward movement of approximately 2 weeks.

EB-3: Current for Worldwide. China is at September 15, 2014 a jump of about 5 months. India is at December 1, 2006, forward movement of one month.

Family Based Immigrant Visas:

FB-1: Worldwide, China and India are at March 15, 2011. Mexico moved forward about 2 months to July 1, 1996. The Philippines moved forward about 7 months to August 1, 2005.

FB-2A: Worldwide, India, China and the Philippines moved forward 1 month to March 1, 2016. Mexico also moved forward about 1 month to February 1, 2016.

FB-2B: Worldwide, China and India all moved forward about one and half months to January 15, 2011. Mexico and the Philippines each moved forward about 2-3 weeks to September 8, 1996 and July 22, 2006 respectively.

FB-3: Worldwide, China and India all moved forward about 5 weeks to November 15, 2005. Mexico moved forward about 1 week to June 22, 1995 and the Philippines did not move, but stayed at March 15, 1995.

FB-4: Worldwide and China moved forward 1 month to July 22, 2004. India moved forward about 3 weeks to January 8, 2004. Mexico only moved forward 1 week to November 8, 1997. The Philippines moved forward about 1 month to October 1, 1994.

The above summarizes the movements for the mentioned categories. If you are interested in another category, please feel free to contact me directly.

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.

Update from Charlie Oppenheim RE: Visa Bulletin Movement

UnknownCharlie Oppenheim recently released a new update on possible movement of various visa categories.  While for the most part there are no surprises, it is good to review what he says on your particular category to ensure you are not surprised in future months.  However, overall, it was a short update this month.

EB-1:  All countries should remain current for the foreseeable future (including China and India)

EB-2:  Worldwide should remain current for the foreseeable future.  India and China will have some forward movement but not much.

EB-3:  Worldwide should remain current for the foreseeable future.  India will most likely hold steady and China will move forward slowly.  Charlie has been paying close attention to China especially because of the number of EB-2 downgrades.  To prevent any retrogression, Charlie is only moving forward slowly in that category.  The Philippines should also progress slowly.

Family based:  Mostly modest movement forward.  The only surprise is FB-4 for India, which is having lower than expected demand and may move forward more quickly than Charlie previously thought.