If you read the blog from September 16th, you may recall that we said it’s impossible to predict visa availability with much accuracy because there is so much missing information, such as the number of pending cases in each category and from each country. A few days after that blog, the USCIS released an I-485 Inventory Chart (which had previously been requested by the Department of State). Although that chart doesn’t provide ALL the information we need for accurate predictions (e.g. we need data on approved I-140’s etc.), it does provide a more accurate picture of the visa backlog.
Keep in mind that the world-wide level for employment-based green cards is at least 140,000 per year. The first preference, second preference and third preference categories each get 28.6% of the overall limit. There is a per-country limit of 7% of the overall total. Any unused numbers from a category trickle down to the next lower category and across the countries in that category.

The USCIS I-485 Inventory Chart displays the total number of pending adjustment of status applications, per preference category, priority date and per country. The USCIS also issued separate charts for India, China, Mexico and the Philippines as those countries historically have higher demand for visas and reach their yearly quota.

Here’s some interesting data from the I-485 inventory chart:

*There are a total of 234,000 cases at the I-485 stage at USCIS awaiting visa numbers to become available. The USCIS stated that the number of I-485 adjustments is typically about 85% of the overall number of immigrant visas (green cards) issued, meaning there could be approximately 35,100 cases at the National Visa Center.

*There are a total of 4,0510 EB1 cases pending; 74,932 EB2 cases pending; and 151,231 EB3 cases pending.

*The number of pending I-485 EB3 cases from the Philippines is 11,563 as compared to 62,607 for India. In essence, the number for India EB3 is 5 times more than that of Philippines EB3.

*While the total number of EB2 for India is 47,728 and EB3 for India is 62,607, the EB3 cases are in the earlier years so that the number of India EB2 cases has been more than India EB3 in every year since 2005.

*The number of I-485 cases pending also includes spouse and dependents.

*The number of China EB2 cases are significantly more than the China EB3 cases: whereas there are only 6,343 in the EB3 category, there are 19,333 in the EB2 category.

Here are a few predictions based upon the I-485 inventory chart:

*India EB3 may surpass India EB2 sometime in the next two fiscal years. Once USCIS gets passed the cases with 2004 priority dates, there may be a shift because there are significantly more India EB2 cases than India EB3 cases since 2005. Caveat: this presumes that the labor certification cases pending at the Department of Labor and I-140’s at the USCIS are roughly the same proportion of EB2 to EB3 as contained on the I-485 inventory chart (note: the “trickle down” of unused visas from first preference category to second preference category will provide some relief to the second preference category).

*Within the next fiscal year EB3 Philippines category should move to at least the priority dates from the middle of 2005. The following fiscal year EB3 Philippines should move at least to the cases with priority dates in the middle of 2006.
*Within the next fiscal year, the visa numbers should move through most of 2005 priority dates for China EB2.