Department of State Releases November 2012 Visa Bulletin

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[authors: Eric S. Bord, Lisa Stephanian Burton, Tracy Evlogidis, Malcolm K. Goeschl, Eleanor Pelta, and A. James Vázquez-Azpiri]

EB-2 category for all chargeable areas except China and India is once again current.

The U.S. Department of State (DOS) has released its November 2012 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 cutoff dates specified by the DOS.

What Does the November 2012 Visa Bulletin Say?

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 are once again current. A cutoff date of September 1, 2007, 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.

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

China: April 15, 2006 (forward movement of 66 days)
India: October 22, 2002 (forward movement of seven days)
Mexico: November 22, 2006 (forward movement of 31 days)
Philippines: August 8, 2006 (forward movement of seven days)
Rest of the World: November 22, 2006 (forward movement of 31 days)

Developments Affecting the EB-2 Employment-Based Category

Mexico, the Philippines, and the Rest of the World

In July, for the first time in many years, the DOS imposed a cutoff date for individuals who qualify for the EB-2 category and are chargeable to a country other than China or India (Mexico, the Philippines, and the Rest of the World). On October 1, 2012, this cutoff date moved forward to January 1, 2012. This meant that, during the month of October, an individual chargeable to Mexico, the Philippines, or the Rest of the World with a priority date before January 1, 2012, can file an AOS application or an immigrant visa application.

In the November Visa Bulletin, the DOS announced that it has completely removed cutoff dates for individuals who qualify for the EB-2 category and are chargeable to a country other than China or India. This means that, as of November 1, 2012, the EB-2 category will once again be "current" for individuals chargeable to these other countries.

India and China

The November Visa Bulletin indicates a cutoff date of September 1, 2007, for EB-2 individuals chargeable to China. The bulletin also indicates that the cutoff date for EB-2 individuals chargeable to India will remain at September 1, 2004. This means that EB-2 individuals chargeable to India or China with a priority date prior to these respective dates may file an AOS application or have the application approved on or after November 1 of this year.

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 November 2012 Visa Bulletin in its entirety, please visit the DOS website here.