Posts Tagged ‘Visas’

Why Do Visa Numbers Surge Forward and Then Retrogress? Predicting Visa Availability for Backlogged Categories

Friday, September 14th, 2012

Predicting when one’s priority date will become current and when the wait on the long immigrant visa queue will finally be over can often be pure guess work. With visas suddenly unavailable or unexpectedly within reach, preference-visa applicants and their attorneys have learned to accept this phenomenon as just another part of the immigration system. In a recent interview with the head of the Visa Control and Reporting Division at the State Department’s Visa Office – the office charged with establishing the monthly priority dates for the Visa Bulletin – Charles Oppenheim sheds some light on the process and provides his predictions for the months to come.

In October 2012, when new visas are allocated for fiscal year 2013, the employment-based second category (EB-2) worldwide will become current but, Mr. Oppenheim warns, the EB-2 category may retrogress or become unavailable for the rest of the year if USCIS adjudicates a significant number of cases in the summer. EB-2 cut-off dates for China (Mainland born) and India, currently “unavailable,” will only move to August or September 2007 and are not likely to move forward for at least six months due to pent-up demand.  Many of these individuals were just two years away from obtaining their green cards in April 2012 when the priority date was May 1, 2010. Now, these foreign nationals can expect at least a five-year wait. Why did this happen?  Why do priority dates move so far ahead and then retrogress so drastically?

Apparently, USCIS had approved many I-140 employment-based immigrant visa petitions but had not received a corresponding number of I-485 adjustment of status applications to adjudicate and thus urged DOS to move these priority dates forward.  Moreover, USCIS expected that adjudication of EB-1 cases would be at the same rate as last fiscal year, and not more. All of these factors led to the forward movement of the EB-2 priority date. The dates then severely retrogressed when demand caught up with visa availability. Another factor for seesawing EB-2 priority dates was the increase in EB-5 investor immigrant visa cases. Unused EB-5 visas trickle down into the EB-1 category, and unused EB-1 visas fall into EB-2. This year, there was less of the normal trickle-down between categories.

Another issue that clouds prediction of visa demand and visa availability, as explained by Mr. Oppenheim, is that neither USCIS nor DOS maintains statistics on upgrades from the EB-3 category to the EB-2 preference category. This can occur, for example, when an applicant applies for an EB-3 visa petition but then advances in his or her career or changes jobs and becomes eligible for an EB-2 visa or marries an EB-2 applicant. In these instances, the individual then has two visa numbers allocated to him. The unused or duplicate visa number (EB-3) is only cancelled when the visa applicant uses the EB-2 visa number during green card issuance. According to Mr. Oppenheim, there are between 10,000 and 15,000 duplicate visas numbers as a result of “upgrades” each fiscal year – a wide variance.  For 2013, that number is already at 17,000, which underscores the difficulty in predicting upgrades and thus visa availability.

Retrogressions are not good for anyone and neither agency likes them.  For USCIS, it means it has to adjudicate more work authorization and travel documents without a fee, and for DOS, it means lack of predictability. For individuals, it means further uncertainty and futures delayed.

 

Employment-Based Second Preference Visa Category Retrogresses to 1/1/09 Worldwide, and for Mexico and the Philippines

Friday, June 29th, 2012

The July Visa Bulletin reports that the employment-based second preference (advanced degree/exceptional ability) immigrant visa category has retrogressed to January 1, 2009 for worldwide applicants and for Mexico and the Philippines due to heavy demand for green cards. This means that applicants whose immigrant visa applications are still pending will have to wait to at least until October 1 for their green cards to be issued. In late April, the annual limit in the EB-2 immigrant visa category for China-mainland born and India had been reached; no further visas for those categories would be authorized until at least the beginning of the next fiscal year, starting on October 1.

Update on Visa Number Availability

Friday, October 28th, 2011

In the November Visa Bulletin, the Department of State (DOS) provides its prognosis on the likely availability and movement of visas for the next few months:

For Family (Worldwide) Categories: F1, expected to advance three to six weeks; F2A, three to six weeks; F2B, one to two weeks; F3, one to two weeks; and F4, up to one month.

For Employment Categories:  EB-1, current; EB-2, current for Worldwide, Mexico, and The Philippines. (For China EB-2 and India EB-2, DOS reports that the current EB-2 cut-off date is approaching the most favorable date previously reached for such applicants; the dates reflect an effort to generate demand based on new filings for adjustment of status at USCIS offices. DOS advises, however, that once the level of demand increases sufficiently, the forward movement may be slowed or stopped, and a retrogression of the cut-offs at some point during the year is possible); EB-3, for Worldwide, expected to advance up to one month; China EB-3, one to three weeks; India EB-3, up to two weeks; Mexico EB-3, up to one month; Philippines EB-3, up to one month; EB-4, current; EB-5, current.

Overall Little Movement in September Visa Numbers

Friday, September 2nd, 2011

As expected, there was little forward movement in visa backlogs as reported in the Visa Bulletin for September.  Some notable exceptions are family 2A (spouses and children of permanent residents), which moved forward five months across the board (except for Mexico) to 12/01/2008, and Other Workers (EB-3), which progressed four months (except for China and India) to 08/01/2005.  We can expect some forward movement in October when the FY2012 visa allotment becomes available.

Visas for Entrepreneurs — Current Considerations

Monday, March 1st, 2010

Over the last couple years, the immigrant investor program (also called the EB-5 program) has gained popularity and media attention as a viable option for those of means to obtain lawful resident status. Even those traditionally less-well-off financially have considered the program in light of ever growing immigrant visa backlogs and the devaluation of the dollar (which means fewer and fewer euros and yen are needed to meet the $1 million investment requirement (or $500,000 in certain cases)). Nevertheless, various issues have deterred would-be eligible applicants from applying for an investor green card including the uncertainly of USCIS interpretations of program requirements, and, more recently, USCIS’ fixation on the source and chain of custody of funds used for the investment.

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