Department of State Releases December 2013 Visa Bulletin

Bulletin shows severe retrogression of the cutoff date for individuals born in India in the employment-based second preference category and continued advancement of the cutoff date for individuals born in China in the employment-based third preference category.

The U.S. Department of State (DOS) has released its December 2013 Visa Bulletin. The Visa Bulletin sets out per country priority date cutoffs that regulate the flow of adjustment of status (AOS) and consular immigrant visa applications. Foreign nationals may file applications to adjust their status to that of permanent resident or to obtain approval of an immigrant visa at a U.S. embassy or consulate abroad, provided that their priority dates are prior to the respective cutoff dates specified by the DOS.

What Does the December 2013 Visa Bulletin Say?

As a result of significant advancements in cutoff dates for individuals chargeable to India in the EB-2 and EB-3 categories at the end of fiscal year 2013, there have been dramatic increases in applicant demand in these categories. Consequently, the cutoff dates for individuals chargeable to India in both categories will retrogress in December to once again regulate demand. Meanwhile, the cutoff date for individuals chargeable to China in the EB-3 category continues to move swiftly ahead of the cutoff date for individuals chargeable to China in the EB-2 category.

A cutoff date of September 1, 2013 for individuals in the family-based F2A category from Mexico, as well as a cutoff date of September 8, 2013 for individuals in the F2A category from all other countries, remains in effect from October.

EB-1: All EB-1 categories will remain current.

EB-2: The cutoff date for individuals in the EB-2 category chargeable to India will retrogress by 3.5 years to November 15, 2004. The cutoff date for individuals in the EB-2 category chargeable to China will advance by 31 days to November 8, 2008. The EB-2 category for all other countries will remain current.

EB-3: The cutoff date for individuals in the EB-3 category chargeable to India will retrogress by 21 days. The cutoff date for individuals in the EB-3 category chargeable to China will advance by 365 days. The cutoff date for individuals in the EB-3 category chargeable to the Philippines will advance by 24 days. The cutoff date for individuals chargeable to Mexico and the Rest of the World will advance by 365 days.

The relevant priority date cutoffs for foreign nationals in the EB-3 category are as follows:

China: October 1, 2011 (forward movement of 365 days)
India: September 1, 2003 (backward movement of 21 days)
Mexico: October 1, 2011 (forward movement of 365 days)
Philippines: January 8, 2007 (forward movement of 24 days)
Rest of the World: October 1, 2011 (forward movement of 365 days)

Developments Affecting the EB-2 Employment-Based Category

Mexico, the Philippines, and the Rest of the World
Since November 2012, the EB-2 category for individuals chargeable to all countries other than China and India has been current. The December Visa Bulletin indicates no changes to these cutoff dates. This means that EB-2 individuals chargeable to all countries other than China and India may continue to file AOS applications or have applications approved through December 2013.

China
The December Visa Bulletin indicates a cutoff date of November 8, 2008 for EB-2 individuals chargeable to China, reflecting forward movement of 31 days. This means that EB-2 individuals chargeable to China with a priority date prior to November 8, 2008 may file AOS applications or have applications approved in December 2013.

India
The cutoff date for EB-2 individuals chargeable to India advanced by more than three years in August and by an additional 5.5 months in September. There was no movement of this cutoff date in October or November. The December Visa Bulletin indicates a cutoff date of November 15, 2004, reflecting retrogression of 3.5 years. This means that only EB-2 individuals chargeable to India with a priority date prior to November 15, 2004 may file AOS applications or have applications approved in December 2013.

Developments Affecting the EB-3 Employment-Based Category

There were significant advancements in the cutoff dates from April through July, and again in September, for EB-3 individuals chargeable to most countries. There was no significant movement in this category in October. In November, the cutoff dates in the EB-3 category for individuals chargeable to China, Mexico, and the Rest of the World advanced by 92 days, while the cutoff dates in the EB-3 category for individuals chargeable to India and the Philippines remained unchanged.

The December Visa Bulletin indicates that the cutoff date for individuals in the EB-3 category from China, Mexico, and the Rest of the World will advance by one full year, whereas the cutoff date for individuals in the EB-3 category chargeable to India will retrogress by 21 days.

China
The cutoff date for EB-3 individuals chargeable to China advanced by 547 days in September and by an additional 92 days in November. The December Visa Bulletin indicates additional forward movement of one year to October 1, 2011. This means that EB-3 individuals chargeable to China with a priority date prior to October 1, 2011 may file AOS applications or have applications approved in December 2013. As noted above, this cutoff date is later than that imposed for the EB-2 category for individuals chargeable to China.

India
The cutoff date for EB-3 individuals chargeable to India advanced by 243 days in September. There was no movement in this category in October or November. The December Visa Bulletin indicates retrogression of this cutoff date by 21 days to September 1, 2003. This means that EB-3 individuals chargeable to India with a priority date prior to September 1, 2003 may file AOS applications or have applications approved in December 2013.

Rest of the World
The cutoff date for EB-3 individuals chargeable to the Rest of the World advanced by 547 days in September and by an additional 92 days in November. The December Visa Bulletin indicates additional forward movement of this cutoff date by one full year to October 1, 2011. This means that EB-3 individuals chargeable to the Rest of the World with a priority date prior to October 1, 2011 may file AOS applications or have applications approved in December 2013.

Developments Affecting the F2A Family-Sponsored Category

In October, a cutoff date of September 1, 2013 was imposed for F2A spouses and children of permanent residents from Mexico, and a cutoff date of September 8, 2013 was imposed for F2A spouses and children of permanent residents from all other countries. The December Visa Bulletin indicates no movement of these cutoff dates. This means that AOS applicants with a priority date that falls on or after the applicable September cutoff date will be unable to file AOS applications or have applications approved in December 2013.

Anticipated Developments in the Coming Months

The December Visa bulletin predicts the following potential changes in visa availability in the coming months:

EB-1: All EB-1 categories are expected to remain current.

EB-2: The cutoff date in the EB-2 category for all countries other than China and India is expected to remain current. The cutoff date for individuals in the EB-2 category chargeable to China is expected to advance by three to five weeks per month. The cutoff date for individuals in the EB-2 category chargeable to India is not expected to move forward.

EB-3: The cutoff date in the EB-3 category for all countries other than China and India has advanced rapidly over the last seven months in an effort to generate new demand. It is anticipated that the number of applications within these categories will increase rapidly, which could have a significant impact on cutoff dates. Therefore, rapid forward movement of worldwide cutoff dates is not expected to continue beyond February 2014. The cutoff date for individuals in the EB-3 category chargeable to China and Mexico is expected to remain consistent with the worldwide date. The cutoff date for individuals in the EB-3 category chargeable to India is not expected to move forward. The cutoff date for individuals in the EB-3 category chargeable to the Philippines is expected to advance by three to six weeks per month.

F2A: The cutoff date for individuals in the F2A category chargeable to Mexico is expected to retrogress at some point in the coming months. The cutoff date for individuals in the F2A category from all other countries is expected to remain unchanged.

How This Affects You

Priority date cutoffs are assessed on a monthly basis by the DOS, based on anticipated demand. Cutoff dates can move forward or backward or remain static. Employers and employees should take the immigrant visa backlogs into account in their long-term planning and take measures to mitigate their effects. To see the December 2013 Visa Bulletin in its entirety, please visit the DOS website at http://www.travel.state.gov/visa/bulletin/bulletin_6211.html.

Topics:  Adjustment of Status, Department of State, EB-1, EB-2, EB-3, Immigrants, Visas

Published In: Immigration Updates, International Trade Updates, Labor & Employment Updates

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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