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Explanation of Employment-Based Visa Date Craziness - June 27, 2012

If you are watching the Visa Bulletin ( priority date progression, you may have motion sickness.


The Visa Bulletin is published monthly by the Department of State (DOS) and determines who can file the final stage of permanent residence the following month.  This year the big movements have been in India and China EB2 (advance degree professionals):  They moved up dramatically, allowing many people to file the "adjustment of status" application after many years of waiting, but then just as quickly "retrogressed" to "Unavailable" (no one can file). 


In addition, the "worldwide" EB2 category (all countries but those listed separately) became backlogged for the first time in recent memory starting July 1. This caused a flurry of June filings and re-working strategy for many people who did not anticipate a waiting line for their green card.


What is going on?


According to liaison between the American Immigration Lawyers Association and Charlie Oppenheim of DOS, the Visa Bulletin is based on anticipated demand for the limited number of visas available each year.  DOS tries to award about 13,500 employment-based visas per quarter in all categories.  Because USCIS had adjudicated many I-140 petitions (the preliminary step to the green card), but had not received as many final green card applications ("adjustment of status") as expected, they encouraged DOS to move the EB2 India and China categories forward.


But some unexpected events, like higher usage of EB1 ("priority workers") and EB5 (immigrant investors) and "upgrades" from EB3 (professionals and other workers) to EB2 for those waiting in the EB3 backlog who have now obtained new, higher-level job offers, made the actual demand higher than expected when the numbers moved forward.


For this reason, the EB2 India and China lines had to be cut off completely for July.  They are expected to open again to August or September 2007 and are not expected to move forward for the first two quarters of fiscal year 2013 (starting October 1, 2012).


The worldwide EB2 could retrogress or become Unavailable for the rest of the 2012 fiscal year, but is expected to be "Current" (no waiting line) in October (the start of the new fiscal year).  However, DOS has 17,000 cases adjudicated and waiting for employment-based visas at this time.  Given the normal 13,500/quarter rate, this means that forward movement will be slow.


If you weren't motion sick before, you probably are now.


How do we cure this sickness?  A more realistic number of immigrant visas, both employment- and family-based.  Many of the people in the employment-based line could immigrate in the family line and vice-versa if the visa numbers matched our economic and demographic needs.  As it is, the system is out of balance, causing dizziness for all involved.


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