Department of State Releases September 2013 Visa Bulletin

EB-3 category for individuals from most countries advances significantly, and EB-2 category for individuals from India advances by five-and-a-half months.

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

In August, the cutoff date in the EB-2 category for individuals chargeable to India advanced by three years and four months in an effort to fully utilize the numbers available under the annual limit. The September Visa Bulletin indicates additional forward movement of five-and-a-half months in this category. This cutoff date has advanced more than expected as a result of a decrease during the last two months in the use of EB-1 numbers and a decrease in EB-2 numbers for most other countries. It is expected that such movement will generate a significant amount of demand from individuals chargeable to India during the coming months.

Cutoff dates in the EB-3 category for individuals from most countries advanced significantly from April through July in an effort to generate demand. It was anticipated that such movement would result in a dramatic increase in demand within this category within a few months; however, no such increase has materialized. As a result, there are significant advancements in these cutoff dates in the month of September.

It is expected that the cutoff dates for individuals in the EB-2 category for India and China, and the cutoff dates for the EB-3 category for all countries, may retrogress as of the start of the new fiscal year on October 1, 2013. AOS applicants in these categories who are now current, or who will be current in September, should therefore aim to file by the end of September.

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

EB-2: A cutoff date of June 15, 2008 is now in effect for individuals in the EB-2 category from India, reflecting forward movement of five-and-a-half months. A cutoff date of August 8, 2008 remains in effect from the August Visa Bulletin for individuals in the EB-2 category from China. The cutoff date remains current for individuals in the EB-2 category from all other countries.

EB-3: There is significant forward movement for EB-3 individuals from all countries.

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

China: July 1, 2010 (forward movement of 547 days)
India: September 22, 2003 (forward movement of 243 days)
Mexico: July 1, 2010 (forward movement of 547 days)
Philippines: December 1, 2006 (forward movement of 41 days)
Rest of the World: July 1, 2010 (forward movement of 547 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 AOS applications or have applications approved on or after November 1, 2012. The September Visa Bulletin indicates that the EB-2 category will continue to remain current for these individuals through September 2013.

China

As with the August Visa Bulletin, the September 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 continue to file AOS applications or have applications approved through September 2013.

India

In August, after 10 months of stagnation, the cutoff date for EB-2 individuals chargeable to India advanced by more than three years to January 1, 2008. The September Visa Bulletin indicates additional forward movement of this cutoff date by five-and-a-half months to June 15, 2008. This means that EB-2 individuals chargeable to India with a priority date prior to June 15, 2008 may file AOS applications or have applications approved in September 2013. This cutoff date has been advanced in an effort to fully utilize the numbers available under the EB-2 annual limit.

It is expected that the cutoff dates for individuals in the EB-2 category chargeable to India will retrogress as of the start of the new fiscal year on October 1, 2013. AOS applications filed by individuals in this category who are now current, or who will be current in September, may therefore be rejected if not received by September 30, 2013.

Developments Affecting the EB-3 Employment-Based Category

From April through July, 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. It was expected that such movement would result in a dramatic increase in demand within this category within a few months. No such dramatic increase has materialized, and there is no indication that it will materialize in the near future. As a result, the September Visa Bulletin indicates significant forward movement in this category for all countries in the month of September.

China

The August Visa Bulletin indicated a cutoff date of January 1, 2009 for EB-3 individuals chargeable to China. The September Visa Bulletin indicates significant forward movement of this cutoff date by 547 days to July 1, 2010. This means that EB-3 individuals chargeable to China with a priority date prior to July 1, 2010 may file AOS applications or have applications approved through September 2013.

India

Additionally, the August Visa Bulletin indicated a cutoff date of January 22, 2003 for EB-3 individuals chargeable to India. The September Visa Bulletin indicates significant forward movement of this cutoff date by 243 days to September 22, 2003. This means that EB-3 individuals chargeable to India with a priority date prior to September 22, 2003 may file AOS applications or have applications approved through September 2013.

Rest of the World

The August Visa Bulletin indicated a cutoff date of January 1, 2009 for EB-3 individuals chargeable to the Rest of the World. The September Visa Bulletin indicates significant forward movement of this cutoff date by 547 days to July 1, 2010. This means that individuals chargeable to all countries other than China, India, Mexico, and the Philippines with a priority date prior to July 1, 2010 may file AOS applications or have applications approved through September 2013.

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

Topics:  Adjustment of Status, Department of State, EB-2, EB-3, Foreign Nationals, 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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