Department of State Releases March 2013 Visa Bulletin

by Morgan Lewis
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EB-2 category for all chargeable areas other than China and India remains current, with minor forward movement in the EB-3 category.

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

EB-1: All EB-1 categories remain current. The March Visa Bulletin predicts that this category will remain current in the coming months.

EB-2: Foreign nationals in the EB-2 category from all countries other than China and India remain current. A cutoff date of February 15, 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.

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

China: January 22, 2007 (forward movement of 68 days)
India: November 22, 2002 (forward movement of 7 days)
Mexico: May 1, 2007 (forward movement of 47 days)
Philippines: September 1, 2006 (forward movement of 10 days)
Rest of the World: May 1, 2007 (forward movement of 47 days)

Developments Affecting the EB-2 Employment-Based Category

Mexico, the Philippines, and the Rest of the World

In November, 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 March Visa Bulletin indicates that the EB-2 category will continue to remain current for these individuals through March 2013.

The March Visa Bulletin predicts that the EB-2 category for individuals chargeable to all countries other than China and India will remain current in the coming months.

China

The March Visa Bulletin indicates a cutoff date of February 15, 2008,for EB-2 individuals chargeable to China. This means that EB-2 individuals chargeable to China with a priority date prior to February 15, 2008, may file an AOS application or have the application approved on or after March 1, 2013.

The March Visa Bulletin predicts that the cutoff date for EB-2 individuals chargeable to China will move forward by approximately three to six weeks in the coming months.

India

In February, the cutoff date for EB-2 individuals chargeable to India was September 1, 2004. This meant that EB-2 individuals chargeable to India with a priority date prior to September 1, 2004, could file an AOS application or have the application approved on or after February 1, 2013. The March Visa Bulletin indicates no movement of this cutoff date.

The March Visa Bulletin predicts that the cutoff date for EB-2 individuals chargeable to India will remain unchanged in the coming months. The Visa Bulletin further predicts that this cutoff date will eventually be retrogressed if the current rate of demand continues.

Developments Affecting the EB-3 Employment-Based Category

The February Visa Bulletin indicated a cutoff date of November 15, 2006, for EB-3 individuals chargeable to China. The March Visa Bulletin indicates a cutoff date of January 22, 2007, for these individuals, reflecting forward movement of 68 days. This means that EB-3 individuals chargeable to China with a priority date prior to January 22, 2007, may file an AOS application or have the application approved on or after March 1, 2013.

The March Visa Bulletin predicts that the cutoff date for EB-3 individuals chargeable to China will move forward by two to three months in the coming months.

Additionally, the February Visa Bulletin indicated a cutoff date of November 15, 2002, for EB-3 individuals chargeable to India. The March Visa Bulletin indicates a cutoff date of November 22, 2002, for these individuals, reflecting forward movement of seven days. This means that EB-3 individuals chargeable to India with a priority date prior to November 22, 2002, may file an AOS application or have the application approved on or after March 1, 2013.

The March Visa Bulletin predicts that the cutoff date for EB-3 individuals chargeable to India will move forward by up to two weeks in the coming months.

The February Visa Bulletin also indicated a cutoff date of March 15, 2007, for EB-3 individuals chargeable to the Rest of the World. The March Visa Bulletin indicates a cutoff date of May 1, 2007, for these individuals, reflecting forward movement of 47 days. This means that individuals chargeable to all countries other than China and India with a priority date prior to May 1, 2007, may file an AOS application or have the application approved on or after March 1, 2013.

The March Visa Bulletin predicts that (1) the cutoff date for EB-3 individuals chargeable to Mexico will move forward by four to six weeks in the coming months, (2) the cutoff date for EB-3 individuals chargeable to the Philippines will move forward by up to one week in the coming months, and (3) the cutoff date for EB-3 individuals chargeable to the Rest of the World will move forward by four to six weeks in the coming months.

Developments Affecting the EB-5 Employment-Based Category

The December Visa Bulletin predicted that a cutoff date would be established for the EB-5 employment-based category for individuals chargeable to China during the second half of fiscal year 2013. The March Visa Bulletin indicates that the establishment of a cutoff date in this category is no longer necessary in light of reduced demand over the first six months of fiscal year 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 March 2013 Visa Bulletin in its entirety, please visit the DOS website here.

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Morgan Lewis
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