During this season where it seems like bad news is the order of the day, the Department of State (DOS) released the March Visa Bulletin and also made some very positive predictions for movement in the coming months. For example, the DOS predicted that we could see a movement of 1 month per month for the India EB2 category, up to the 3 months for the all other EB3 category, and up to 6 months each month for the EB3 Philippines category. They also indicated that EB2 would remain current for all other countries.
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.
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.
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.
Last night, the U.S. House of Representatives passed H.R. 3012, the Fairness for High-Skilled Immigrants Act by an overwhelming vote of 389-15. This bill would change the way employment-based (EB) green cards are allocated by eliminating the per country quotas. If the bill becomes law, it will equalize the waiting times for employment based permanent residence, which would result in significant advancement in EB green card availability for India and China. Unfortunately, it would also create retrogression for persons from other countries, specifically those in the EB2 category, who now enjoy a "current" status. The seven percent limit per country would be eliminated by 2015. Instead of separate queues for each country in each employment based green card category, there would be eventually be a single queue for each employment-based green card category. Until 2015, per-country limits on green cards would still exist, but a certain number of immigrant visas would be immediately allocated to India and China and away from other countries. As a result, priority dates for India and China would quickly advance in the EB-2 and EB-3 categories. However, for other countries EB-2 could retrogress and EB-3 could see further retrogression. By 2015, the EB-2 and EB-3 categories would all be backlogged, but there would be a single priority date for all countries in each category. Although, certainly not a perfect solution, this bill is a step in the right direction and corrects one glaring defect in the employment based green card system. It is hoped that the positive reaction that this bill received in the House would motivate other immigration bills including: special treatment for STEM and Schedule A occupations, an overall increase in the level of employment based immigration, the elimination of counting dependents toward the overall EB quota, a re-capture of unused immigrant visa numbers from [...]
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.
This week, the DOS released the November Visa Bulletin and the dates jumped once again for EB2 India and Chinese nationals but, remained painstakingly slow for all others. The National Foundation for American Policy recently released a study in which it calculated that the wait in the EB3 category had reached 70 years for Indian and Chinese nationals. Yes, that says 70 !
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.
Recently, Erik Anderson, an immigration attorney and friend of our firm wrote a nice article calling for Congress to act to relieve the EB2 backlog for Indian nationals. Check out the full post here but, please return to our blog when you are finished reading.