The Department of State (DOS) has released the April Visa Bulletin. There were no changes to the dates of filing chart but, since there is no expectation that the USCIS will utilize this chart, it has effectively become moot. The final action date chart showed nice gains for All Other EB3, China EB3 and Philippines EB3 but, India EB2 and EB3 were virtually unmoved. Retrogression relief remains badly needed but, positive legislation seems but, a dream under this Administration.
We knew it was too good to last and finally, the announcement has come. The DOS has confirmed that as of March 23rd, all available EB2 numbers for India and China for the current fiscal year have been exhausted. I-485 applications may continue to be filed as long as your priority date is current pursuant to the April Visa Bulletin and EAD and Advance Parole applications will continue to be processed however, cases can not be approved and permanent residency can not be granted until visa numbers are once again available. The DOS previously announced that the priority dates would retrogress to August 15, 2007 effective May 1st. As a practical matter, for purposes of adjudication (approval), the priority date has already retrogressed to Aug 15, 2007 however, for purposes of filing, the priority date will remain May 1, 2010. For many people, there remain several advantages to filing your 485 even though it can’t be adjudicated including: issuance of EAD cards for yourself and family members, issuance of advance parole travel documents for yourself and family members, flexibility afforded under AC21, elimination of the reliance on an H-1b visa and avoid the need for the ordeal of visa stamping. For IT staffing companies, there is a great incentive to encourage employees to process 485’s because in most cases, it eliminates the need for an H-1b and all of the restrictions and costs that accompany it. The DOS has published a nice document explaining how the allocation system and priority dates work in case you are curious.
The DOS has released the April Visa Bulletin and unfortunately, the movement of EB2 dates for Indian and Chinese nationals halted with dates remaining the same as the March bulletin. Historically, a month where dates remain constant indicates that the DOS may have enough demand to utilize all available immigrant visas for a fiscal year and it would not be surprising if the date stayed at May 1, 2010 or retrogressed. The EB3 category continued its all too familiar pattern of inching forward.
The DOS recently published a final rule changing the way it would determine the validity dates it would issue for an L-1 visa. L visas will now be issued with validity periods based on the visa reciprocity schedule. The prior rule limited L visas to the petition validity period, as shown on the I-797 approval notice issued by the USCIS.
Earlier this week, the DOS released the March visa bulletin. The EB2 category for persons born in India or China saw another significant advancement of 4 months whereas all other categories continue to see slow but steady movement forward.
The DOS released the Feb Visa Bulletin and the priority dates for EB2 India and China moved forward by a full year to Jan 2010. The rapid movement over the past several months is due to reports from the USCIS of fewer than expected 485 filings. Future retrogression remains likely if the number of I-485 filings increases. All EB3 categories saw snail like movement forward and the predictions are for more of the same.
In the January Visa Bulletin released by the DOS, EB2 numbers for India and China moved ahead over nine months making priority dates current for all of 2008 and before. It is interesting to note the Bulletin's comments on the relatively few new I-485's that have been filed in recent months in spite of the rapid forward movement of dates. I bet if they go ask anyone who had a vacation planned but then cancelled in the summer of 2007, they could explain it to them.
In what has become a holiday tradition, a government agency has announced a fee increase. This time the DOS has published a new schedule for fees applicable to visa issued at Consular posts. If only we could be assured that the Post would apply the law, paying increased fees would not be so bad but, alas, that is but wishful thinking on our part and as likely to happen as Santa coming down a chimney delivering presents !
The Department of State has released the December visa bulletin and EB2 India and PRC dates have surged ahead to March 15, 2008. This is a movement of over 4 months from the November bulletin and an almost 2 year improvement over the December 2010 bulletin. In spite of dire warnings from the DOS that a slowdown of movement and even possible retrogression is in store for the EB2 category, at least for now, there are smiles all around.
The DOS released the September Visa Bulletin and the EB2 categories for India and PRC showed no forward movement whereas the EB3 categories for all countries once again showed slow but, steady movement forward. It is not uncommon for the final Visa Bulletin of the fiscal year to show some slow-down or even retrogression so there should not be too much read into the lack of movement in Sept. dates for EB2 categories.