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December 2013 Processing Times for Employment-Based (EB) Immigrant Visas

The U.S. Department of State has released the Visa Bulletin for December 2013. In this bulletin, the Department of State reports the availability of immigrant visas during the month of December 2013. As you will note, the visa categories or foreign nations with demand in excess of the numerical limitation have been deemed oversubscribed and will have a date next to the oversubscribed visa category or foreign nation. These dates represent the cut-off date for that oversubscribed visa and will be the priority date of the first applicant who could not be reached within the numerical limits. You must have a priority date that falls before the cut-off date listed below in order to be eligible to apply for your green card.

When comparing current visa bulletins with prior visa bulletins, you are better able to develop a sense of how long processing times are taking and what you may be able to expect for wait times in the future. As such, The Law Firm of Shihab & Associates has included a description of the current visa bulletin and compared it with the Visa Bulletin for November of 2013 to see the current trends. In addition, you will find a description of the Visa Bulletin for December 2012 to serve as an annual comparison that will provide a comprehensive picture of how processing times have progressed, retrogressed, or remained constant in the past year.

First Preference: “EB-1: Priority Workers”

In December 2013, the First Preference Employment-Based Visas for Priority Workers remains current worldwide; meaning visas are available for all qualified applicants. Similarly, the First Preference Employment-Based Visas for Priority Workers was current last month and last year.

Second Preference Employment-Based Visas: “EB-2: Members of the Professions Holding Advanced Degrees or Persons of Exceptional Ability”

Global Glimpse: In December 2013, the processing time for EB-2 visas for Mexico, the Philippines, and all other chargeability areas remains current since last month and last year. As such, qualified applicants from these foreign nations are eligible to apply for a green card immediately. Contact the Law Firm of Shihab & Associates to continue on your path to permanent residence.

On the other hand, EB-2 visas for China are moving slowly, but the cut-off date for India EB-2 has retrogressed considerably.

China: The EB-2 visa for China continues to be oversubscribed, but processing times are slowly moving forward. The cut-off date has progressed from October 8, 2008 last month to November 8, 2008 this December. One year ago, the cut-off date for China EB-2 visas was October 22, 2007. It appears that the processing time is progressing at a slow, but steady monthly pace. However, this year seems to be moving more slowly than 2012 and Chief of the Visa Control and Reporting Division at the U.S. Department of State, Mr. Charles Oppenheim predicted that it will continue to move slowly.

If you have a priority date that falls before November 8, 2008, then you may be eligible to apply for your green card. Contact us to consult with an experienced attorney about your next step.

India: As predicted by Mr. Oppenheim, the cut-off date for EB-2 visas for India retrogressed dramatically from June 15, 2008 last month to November 15, 2004 in December of this year. As previously noted, this is due largely to foreign workers from India “upgrading” from EB-3 to EB-2. The cut-off date one year ago was September 1, 2004, taking whatever progress made in 2013 back to the 2012 processing time rates.

For more information about what this means for you, or if your priority date is before November 15, 2004, contact us to speak with one of our proficient attorneys.

Third Preference Employment-Based Visas: “EB-3, Skilled Workers, Professionals, and Other Workers”

Global Glimpse : While EB-3 visas remain oversubscribed worldwide, the processing times for China, Mexico, the Philippines and all other chargeability areas continue to progress at a steady rate overall in December 2013. However, the cut-off date for EB-3 visas for India has retrogressed slightly.

China : The third-preference employment-based visas for Skilled Workers, Professionals, and Other Workers (EB-3) Visas from China continue to be oversubscribed this December, but the cut-off date progressed by one year since last month, advancing significantly from October 1, 2010 to October 1, 2011. Considering that last December, the cut-off date was July 1, 2006, it is safe to say the processing time for EB-3 visas from China will continue to progress at a healthy rate. According to Mr. Oppenheim, the China EB-3 visas priority date will continue to be ahead of the EB-2 priority date, meaning you may consider filing under the third preference even if you qualify under the second preference. Contact the Law Firm of Shihab & Associates for more information about this option.

If you have a priority date that is before October 1, 2011, you may be eligible to apply for your green card. If your priority date falls soon after October 1, 2011, you should consider preparing to apply for your green card soon. Contact us to get the ball rolling.

India: The cut-off date for EB-3 visas for Indian nationals has retrogressed slightly since November. The cut-off date regressed from September 22, 2003 to September 1, 2003. Mr. Oppenheim predicted that processing times for India EB-3 visas would continue to move very slowly. However, he did not predict that it would retrogress; perhaps indicating that it is moving more slowly than expected. In December of 2012, the priority date cut-off was November 1, 2002. While it appears the processing times for EB-3 visas for India have been moving at a slow, but steady pace since last year, we will keep a close eye on the priority date cut-off and keep you informed of any further retrogression. If you are an Indian national and have questions about what this means for you, contact us to speak to a knowledgeable attorney.

Mexico: The priority date for EB-3 visas for Mexican nationals has progressed by one year since last month, advancing from October 1, 2010 in November to October 1, 2011 in December. Hence, if you have a priority date before October 1, 2011, you may be eligible to apply for your green card. Last December, the priority date was December 22, 2006. Thus, given the rate of processing times, if your priority date falls within six months of October 1, 2011, you may want to consider preparing your green card application process for next month. Contact us to get ahead of the game.

Philippines: In December 2013, the EB-3 priority date for the Philippines has advanced slightly since last month, from December 15, 2006 to January 8, 2007, meaning if your priority date falls before January 8, 2007, you may be eligible to apply for your green card. One year ago, the priority cut-off date was August 15, 2006. Thus, it appears the processing time for EB-3 visas for foreign nationals from the Philippines is moving slowly. Contact us if your priority date is before January 8, 2007 and you want to begin the process for obtaining your green card.

All Other Chargeability Areas: Similar to Mexico, the priority date for EB-3 visas for foreign nationals from all other chargeability areas has progressed by one year since last month, advancing from October 1, 2010 in November to October 1, 2011 in December. If you have a priority date before October 1, 2011, you may be eligible to apply for your green card. Last December, the priority date was December 22, 2006. Considering this progression rate, if your priority date falls within six months of October 1, 2011, you may want to consider preparing your green card application process for next month. Contact us to get a head start on applying for your number.

Other Workers

Global Glimpse: In December 2013, the processing times for employment-based immigrant visas for the Other Workers category continue to be oversubscribed across the board. While the processing times for China, Mexico and all other chargeability areas progressed by one year since November 2013, the priority date cut-off for the Philippines only progressed slightly and the priority cut-off date for India retrogressed.

China: The priority date for employment-based immigrant visas for the Other Workers from China progressed one year since November 2013, from October 1, 2010 to October 1, 2011. It is worth noting that last December, the priority date cut-off was July 1, 2003, meaning processing time for visas from China in the Other Workers category is making rapid progress. If your priority date is before or within six months of October 1, 2011, contact The Law Firm of Shihab & Associates to continue on your path legal permanent residence.

India: Similar to EB-3 visas for Indian nationals, the cut-off date for visas in the Other Workers category has retrogressed slightly since November. The cut-off date relapsed from September 22, 2003 to September 1, 2003. In December of 2012, the priority date cut-off was November 1, 2002. The processing time for employment-based immigrant visas in the Other Workers category for India has been making slow progress since last year. However, given this slight retrogression, we will closely monitor the priority date cut-off and alert you if there is any further retrogression. If your priority date is before September 1, 2003 and you like to begin the application process for your green card, or if you have questions about retrogression, contact us to speak to an experienced attorney.

Philippines: The processing time for the Other Workers visa category for foreign nationals of the Philippines is slowly progressing. From November to December 2013, the priority date cut-off progressed a little less than one month, from December 15, 2006 to January 8, 2007. In the past year, the priority date cut-off progressed approximately five months, from August 15, 2006 to January 8, 2007. As such, it appears that the processing time is progressing slowly. If your priority date is before January 8, 2007, contact us to apply for your green card.

Mexico and All Other Chargeability Areas: The priority date cut-off for Other Worker visas for Mexico and all other chargeability areas progressed by one year since last month, from October 1, 2010 to October 1, 2011. The priority date has progressed significantly since last year, when the cut-off date was December 6, 2006, indicating a healthy progression of processing time for these areas in the Other Worker visa category. Thus, if you are a foreign national of Mexico or another chargeability area not listed above and your priority date is before or soon after October 1, 2011, then you may be eligible to apply for your green card. Contact us to learn more.

Other Employment-Based Immigrant Visas:

Since before last December, the processing times for fourth preference employment-based petitions (certain special immigrants), certain religious workers and the fifth targeted employment areas (employment creation visas) have been current across the board.

However, as reported in November 2013, Mr. Oppenheim stated that there is concern over how quickly the EB-5 visa numbers for China are moving and the Department of State’s Visa Office may impose a priority date cut-off for China EB-5 visas as early as June of 2014. In addition, Mr. Oppenheim stated that the number of EB-5 visas has gone up worldwide. Thus, if you are interested in filing for an EB-5 visa, you may want to get started before a cut-off date is imposed. Contact the Law Firm of Shihab & Associates to stay ahead of the curve.

For a chart showing all processing times described above, click here.

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