The American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) DOS Liaison Committee provides a series of monthly updates designed to keep members informed of Visa Bulletin progress and projections.

Immediately following publication of each month’s Visa Bulletin, AILA “checks-in” with Charles (“Charlie”) Oppenheim, Chief of the Visa Control and Reporting Division, U.S. Department of State, to obtain his analysis of current trends and future projections for the various immigrant preference categories.

Mr. Oppenheim is responsible for setting the cut-off date for immigrant visa priority date movement each month. Here are Mr. Oppenheim’s comments for the month of March 2019:

EB-3 Philippines

Demand in this category continues to remain below the targeted level, requiring the Final Action Date for EB-3 Philippines to advance 4 months to December 1, 2017, in an attempt to generate demand.

Mr. Oppenheim is concerned that this rapid advancement might reflect a similar demand pattern to what this category experienced in FY2014 and early FY2015.

At that time, the demand was similarly low. As such, the Final Action Date rapidly advanced. In the Spring of FY2015, a surge of demand in this category resulted in number use during a three-month period, equaling that of the entire previous year, requiring a more than 7-year retrogression in the Final Action Date for EB-3 Philippines.

The FY2015 Final Action Date had, at one point, reached October 2014 for April. By May 2015 it retrogressed to July 2007, and ultimately ended the year at December 2004. The drastic retrogressions were required to stop all number use once the limit was reached, and it took many years to fully recover to the October 2014 date.

While Mr. Oppenheim is cautious about advancing the Final Action Date too quickly to avoid a re-occurrence of this type of retrogression, he cannot avoid advancing it where he does not see sufficient demand to meet the per country limit.