Department of State Releases January 2014 Visa Bulletin

Bulletin shows no movement of cutoff dates for individuals born in India in the EB-2 and EB-3 preference categories; the cutoff date for individuals born in China in the EB-3 category continues to move ahead of the EB-2 category.

The U.S. Department of State (DOS) has released its January 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 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 January 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. The January Visa Bulletin indicates no additional movement of these cutoff dates. Meanwhile, the cutoff date for EB-3 China continues to move swiftly ahead of the cutoff date for EB-2 China.

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: All EB-1 categories will remain current.

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 30 days to December 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 remain unchanged from last month. The cutoff date for individuals in the EB-3 category chargeable to China will advance by 183 days. The cutoff date for individuals in the EB-3 category chargeable to the Philippines will advance by 38 days. The cutoff date for individuals chargeable to Mexico and the Rest of the World will advance by 183 days.

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

China: April 1, 2012 (forward movement of 183 days)
India: September 1, 2003 (no movement)
Mexico: April 1, 2012 (forward movement of 183 days)
Philippines: February 15, 2007 (forward movement of 38 days)
Rest of the World: April 1, 2012 (forward movement of 183 days)

Developments Affecting the EB-2 Employment-Based Category

Mexico, the Philippines, and the Rest of the World

The EB-2 category for individuals chargeable to all countries other than China and India has been current since November 2012. The January 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 January 2014.

China

The December Visa Bulletin indicated a cutoff date of November 8, 2008 for EB-2 individuals chargeable to China. The January Visa Bulletin indicates a cutoff date of December 8, 2008, reflecting forward movement of 30 days. This means that EB-2 individuals chargeable to China with a priority date prior to December 8, 2008 may file AOS applications or have applications approved in January 2014.

India

In August, the cutoff date for EB-2 individuals chargeable to India advanced by more than three years, and in September, the cutoff date advanced by an additional 5.5 months. The October and November Visa Bulletins announced no additional movement. In December, the cutoff date retrogressed by 3.5 years to November 15, 2004.

In mid-November, Charles Oppenheim, Chief of the Visa Control and Reporting Division at the DOS, announced that the cutoff date of November 15, 2004 that was to have taken effect December 1 was put into effect as of November 20. The DOS’s decision to enforce the EB-2 India cutoff date for December during the latter part of November came as a result of unprecedented demand for EB-2 visa numbers from applicants chargeable to India. 

The January Visa Bulletin indicates no change to the November 15, 2004 cutoff date. 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 January 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. The January 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 an additional 183 days to April 1, 2012. The cutoff date for individuals in the EB-3 category chargeable to India will remain unchanged.

China

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

India

In December, the cutoff date for EB-3 individuals chargeable to India retrogressed by 21 days to September 1, 2003. The January Visa Bulletin indicates no movement of this cutoff date. This means that EB-3 individuals chargeable to India with a priority date prior to September 1, 2003 may continue to file AOS applications or have applications approved through January 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 Visa Bulletin indicates a cutoff date of April 1, 2012, reflecting additional forward movement of 183 days. This means that EB-3 individuals chargeable to the Rest of the World with a priority date prior to April 1, 2012 may file AOS applications or have applications approved in January 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. The January 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 January 2014.

Anticipated Developments in the Coming Months

The December Visa bulletin predicted 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 in the coming months. According to comments made by Charles Oppenheim, it is possible that the cutoff date for EB-2 India will again advance to around December 2008 in August or September 2014, the last two months of the fiscal year. It is also possible, however, that the EB-2 India cutoff date will further retrogress or that EB-2 India visa numbers will become unavailable for the remainder of the fiscal year. Either action may be announced and become immediately effective without forewarning. For more information, please see our November 2013 Immigration Alert here.

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 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 January 2014 Visa Bulletin in its entirety, please visit the DOS website here.

Topics:  Adjustment of Status, China, Department of State, 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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