Department of State Releases February 2014 Visa Bulletin

by Morgan Lewis
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Bulletin shows no movement of cutoff dates in the EB-2 and EB-3 India categories; the cutoff dates in the EB-2 and EB-3 China categories show minor forward movement with EB-3 China continuing to move ahead of EB-2 China.

The U.S. Department of State (DOS) has released its February 2014 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 statuses to that of permanent residents or to obtain approval of immigrant visas at U.S. embassies or consulates abroad, provided that their priority dates are before the respective cutoff dates specified by the DOS.

What Does the February 2014 Visa Bulletin Say?

At the end of fiscal year 2013, there were considerable advancements in cutoff dates in the EB-2 and EB-3 India categories. In order to regulate the large increase in demand that followed, these cutoff dates retrogressed significantly in December. In January, there was no movement in cutoff dates for the EB-2 and EB-3 India categories; meanwhile, cutoff dates for the EB-3 China category continued to move ahead of those for the EB-2 China category. The February 2014 Visa Bulletin again indicates no movement in cutoff dates for the EB-2 and EB-3 India categories with continued advancement of cutoff dates for the EB-3 China category ahead of the EB-2 China 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.

EB-1: Cutoff dates for all EB-1 categories will remain the same.

EB-2: The cutoff date for individuals in the EB-2 category chargeable to India will remain unchanged from last month at November 15, 2004. The cutoff date for individuals in the EB-2 category chargeable to China will advance by 31 days to January 8, 2009. Cutoff dates for the EB-2 category for all other countries will remain the same.

EB-3: The cutoff date for individuals in the EB-3 category chargeable to India will remain unchanged from last month. The cutoff date for individuals in the EB-3 category chargeable to China will advance by 61 days. The cutoff date for individuals in the EB-3 category chargeable to the Philippines will advance by 59 days. The cutoff date for individuals chargeable to Mexico and the Rest of the World will advance by 61 days.

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

China: June 1, 2012 (forward movement of 61 days)
India: September 1, 2003 (no movement)
Mexico: June 1, 2012 (forward movement of 61 days)

Philippines: April 15, 2007 (forward movement of 59 days)
Rest of the World: June 1, 2012 (forward movement of 61 days)

Developments Affecting the EB-2 Employment-Based Category

Mexico, the Philippines, and the Rest of the World

The cutoff dates for EB-2 individuals chargeable to all countries other than China and India has been the same since November 2012. The February 2014  Visa Bulletin indicates no change to these categories. 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 February 2014.

China

The January 2014 Visa Bulletin indicated a cutoff date of December 8, 2008 for EB-2 individuals chargeable to China. The February 2014 Visa Bulletin indicates a cutoff date of January 8, 2009, reflecting forward movement of 31 days. This means that EB-2 individuals chargeable to China with a priority date before January 8, 2009 may file AOS applications or have applications approved in February 2014.

India

Between August and September 2013, the cutoff date for EB-2 individuals chargeable to India advanced by approximately three and a half years. This was followed in December 2013 by retrogression of the cutoff date by three and a half years to November 15, 2004 due to unprecedented demand for EB-2 visa numbers from applicants chargeable to India. The cutoff date remained unchanged in the January 2014 Visa Bulletin, and the February 2014 Visa Bulletin again indicates no change. This means that only EB-2 individuals chargeable to India with a priority date before November 15, 2004 may file AOS applications or have applications approved in February 2014.

Developments Affecting the EB-3 Employment-Based Category

There were significant advancements in cutoff dates for EB-3 individuals chargeable to most countries in the latter half of 2013. In January, the cutoff date for individuals in the EB-3 category from China, Mexico, and the Rest of the World advanced by 183 days, and the cutoff date for individuals in the EB-3 category chargeable to India remained unchanged.

China

From September through December 2013, the cutoff date for EB-3 individuals chargeable to China advanced by 2.75 years. The January 2014 Visa Bulletin indicated a cutoff date of April 1, 2012, reflecting forward movement of 183 days. The February 2014 Visa Bulletin indicates a cutoff date of June 1, 2012, reflecting additional forward movement of 61 days. This means that EB-3 individuals chargeable to China with a priority date before June 1, 2012 may file AOS applications or have applications approved in February 2014. As noted above, this cutoff date remains later than that imposed for individuals chargeable to China in the EB-2 category.

India

In the January 2014 Visa Bulletin, the cutoff date for EB-3 individuals chargeable to India was September 1, 2003. The February 2014 Visa Bulletin indicates no movement of this cutoff date. This means that EB-3 individuals chargeable to India with a priority date before September 1, 2003 may continue to file AOS applications or have applications approved through February 2014.

Rest of the World

From September through December 2013, the cutoff date for EB-3 individuals chargeable to the Rest of the World advanced by 2.75 years. The January 2014 Visa Bulletin indicated forward movement to April 1, 2012. The February 2014 Visa Bulletin indicates a cutoff date of June 1, 2012, reflecting additional forward movement of 61 days. This means that EB-3 individuals chargeable to the Rest of the World with a priority date before June 1, 2012 may file AOS applications or have applications approved in February 2014.

Developments Affecting the F2A Family-Sponsored Category

In October 2013, 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. There was no movement of these cutoff dates in December or January. The February 2014 Visa Bulletin again indicates no movement. 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 February 2014.

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 the same. 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 February 2014 Visa Bulletin in its entirety, please visit the DOS website.

 

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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