Department of State Releases July 2013 Visa Bulletin

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EB-2 category for all chargeable areas other than China and India remains current, with considerable forward movement in the EB-3 category for the third month in a row.

The U.S. Department of State (DOS) has released its July 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 July 2013 Visa Bulletin Say?

Contrary to predictions in some quarters, there has not been a significant advance in cutoff dates in the EB-2 category for India. Such an advance may occur in August or September, however.

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

EB-2: Foreign nationals in the EB-2 category from all countries other than China and India remain current. A cutoff date of August 8, 2008, reflecting minor forward movement, has been imposed for foreign nationals in the EB-2 category from China. A cutoff date of September 1, 2004 remains in effect for foreign nationals in the EB-2 category from India.

EB-3: There is continued backlog in the EB-3 category for all countries, with considerable forward movement for EB-3 individuals chargeable to countries other than India and the Philippines.

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

China: January 1, 2009 (forward movement of 122 days)
India: January 22, 2003 (forward movement of 14 days)
Mexico: January 1, 2009 (forward movement of 122 days)
Philippines: October 1, 2006 (forward movement of 9 days)
Rest of the World: January 1, 2009 (forward movement of 122 days)

Developments Affecting the EB-2 Employment-Based Category

Mexico, the Philippines, and the Rest of the World

In November 2012, the EB-2 category for individuals chargeable to all countries other than China and India became current. This meant that EB-2 individuals chargeable to countries other than China and India could file an AOS application or have the application approved on or after November 1, 2012. The July Visa Bulletin indicates that the EB-2 category will continue to remain current for these individuals through July 2013.

China

The July Visa Bulletin indicates a cutoff date of August 8, 2008 for EB-2 individuals chargeable to China. This means that EB-2 individuals chargeable to China with a priority date prior to August 8, 2008 may file an AOS application or have the application approved on or after July 1, 2013.

India

Since October 2012, the cutoff date for EB-2 individuals chargeable to India has been September 1, 2004. The July Visa Bulletin indicates no movement of this cutoff date. This means that EB-2 individuals chargeable to India with a priority date prior to September 1, 2004 may file an AOS application or have the application approved through July 2013.

Developments Affecting the EB-3 Employment-Based Category

In May and June, the cutoff dates for EB-3 individuals chargeable to most countries advanced significantly in an attempt to generate demand and fully utilize the annual numerical limits for the category. The July Visa Bulletin indicates that the cutoff dates for EB-3 individuals chargeable to most countries have advanced significantly for the third month in a row.

China

The June Visa Bulletin indicated a cutoff date of September 1, 2008 for EB-3 individuals chargeable to China. The July Visa Bulletin indicates a cutoff date of January 1, 2009 for these individuals, reflecting forward movement of 122 days. This means that EB-3 individuals chargeable to China with a priority date prior to January 1, 2009 may file an AOS application or have the application approved on or after July 1, 2013.

India

Additionally, the June Visa Bulletin indicated a cutoff date of January 8, 2003 for EB-3 individuals chargeable to India. The July Visa Bulletin indicates a cutoff date of January 22, 2003 for these individuals, reflecting forward movement of 14 days. This means that EB-3 individuals chargeable to India with a priority date prior to January 22, 2003 may file an AOS application or have the application approved on or after July 1, 2013.

Rest of the World

The June Visa Bulletin indicated a cutoff date of September 1, 2008 for EB-3 individuals chargeable to the Rest of the World. The July Visa Bulletin indicates a cutoff date of January 1, 2009 for these individuals, reflecting forward movement of 122 days. This means that individuals chargeable to all countries other than China, India, Mexico, and the Philippines with a priority date prior to January 1, 2009 may file an AOS application or have the application approved on or after July 1, 2013.

Anticipated Developments for the Months of August through October

The July Visa Bulletin predicts the following visa availability in the months of August through October:

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 foreign nationals in the EB-2 category chargeable to China is expected to move forward by two months. The cutoff date for foreign nationals in the EB-2 category chargeable to India is expected to move forward in August and/or September, but the extent to which this cutoff date is expected to move forward is not specified. The DOS anticipates that this forward movement will generate heavy new applicant demand, primarily by those individuals upgrading from the EB-3 to the EB-2 category. The DOS further indicates that a sustained level of heavy demand within this category could impact the cutoff date at some point during fiscal year 2014, resulting in possible unavailability.

EB-3: The cutoff date for individuals in the EB-3 category chargeable to India is expected to move forward by up to three weeks. The cutoff date for individuals in the EB-3 category chargeable to the Philippines is expected to move forward by up to two weeks. The cutoff date for individuals born in China and Mexico is not expected to move forward. Similarly, the cutoff date for individuals in the EB-3 category from the Rest of the World is not expected to move forward. The cutoff date for this latter category has advanced by 18 months over the last three months, and such rapid movement is expected to generate a significant amount of new demand. The DOS indicates that the impact of this increased demand will not be felt for three to five months; therefore, the DOS will maintain the current cutoff date until such time as it can determine the level of demand that is to be expected.

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 July 2013 Visa Bulletin in its entirety, please visit the DOS website here.