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February 2015 Visa Bulletin Analysis for Employment-Based (EB) Immigrant Visas

Below is our monthly analysis of the State Department’s Visa Bulletin for employment-based cases. There was unexpectedly strong movement in some categories, but others remain stubbornly stagnant.

First Preference (EB-1): Priority Workers

As expected, all those who qualify as First Preference “EB-1” workers continue to have no priority date cut-off. In other words, they are immediately eligible to petition for permanent residence. (No labor certification is required.) The three types of immigrant who qualify as EB-1 workers are “persons with extraordinary ability in the sciences, arts, or business,” “outstanding professors and researchers,” and “multinational managers or executives.”

Second Preference (EB-2): “Members of the Professions Holding Advanced Degrees or Persons of Exceptional Ability”

Those who qualify as Second Preference “EB-2” workers have no priority date cut-off, with two (major) exceptions: those who are from “mainland” China (PRC) and India. The Chinese date has somewhat unexpectedly accelerated to six-weeks-per-month. However, the main news is the much unexpected over-six-month jump in the India date. This comes after many had predicted that it would not move for at least a few more bulletins following the substantial volatility involving two retrogressions. The date is now predicted to move four to six months per monthly bulletin for the time being. The priority date cutoff was in 2009 in bulletins from last fall, and it looks like the DOS may be planning to advance it back to 2009 by the end of this year.

China (PRC)January 1st 2010
IndiaFebruary 15th 2005
China (PRC)March 15th 2010
IndiaSeptember 1st 2005

To qualify as an EB-2 worker, one needs to either hold an advanced degree, a baccalaureate degree with at least five years of “progressive experience” in the field one wishes to enter in the United States, or be considered a “person of exceptional ability in the sciences, arts, or business.”

Third Preference Employment-Based Visas (EB-3): “Skilled Workers” and Professionals, and “Other Workers” (Two Separate Sub-Categories)

Third Preference “EB-3” workers are cut into two sub-categories: “Skilled Workers and Professionals” and “Other Workers.” (For all areas except for China, both sub-categories share the same date.) All EB-3 immigrants have priority date cut-offs, but most continue to make strong multi-month advancements. For China’s “Skilled Workers and Professionals,” the previous visa bulletin’s nine-month advancement yielded predictions of much greater deceleration than the actual reduction to six-months-per-month. There was even some advancement for China’s “Other Workers” sub-category**. The Indian dates, however, continue to struggle after falling from over one-month-per-month to two weeks or less per month. The rest of the world’s dates are the strongest of all, as they have made consistent jumps to hit 2014.

China (PRC)March 1st 2011**
IndiaDecember 15th 2003
All Other Areas*June 1st 2013
China (PRC)September 1st 2011**
IndiaDecember 22nd 2003
All Other Areas*January 1st 2014

**”Other Workers” from China saw no movement following last July’s two and a half year advancement, until now. Their priority date cutoff is now August 15th 2005. Applicants of all other nationalities have the same priority date cut-off for both EB-3 types, so the two are combined in the chart.

Paradoxically, the rapid movement of this category (in all areas except for India) and increased usage of EB-2 has made it so that some recent EB-2 filers from China will have to wait longer than EB-3 filers for the ability to petition for permanent residence. The situation is somewhat ironic, as the fact that EB-2 is meant to have shorter wait time led to its having higher demand—and therefore longer wait-time. This will likely lead to a spike in downgrade petitions for Chinese immigrants, because EB-1 through EB-3 is essentially a hierarchical scale. Those that are earliest to file may get their I-485 over a year earlier than they would have otherwise. However, this will almost certainly lead to a retrogression to compensate for the increased usage of EB-3, and things will go back to normal with EB-2 having a lower wait time across the board.

Other Employment-Based Immigrant Visas

The Fourth Preference “EB-4” and Fifth Preference “EB-5” visa categories remain current for all areas of chargeability, meaning all such immigrants are immediately eligible to file for permanent residence. EB-4 is an umbrella category for many disparate and specific sub-categories. They are

Religious Ministers;Iraqis that assisted the United States;Children and Spouses of Deceased NATO-6 employees;
BroadcastersEmployees of International Organizations;Panama Canal Zone Employees; and
Afghan/Iraqi Translators;Members of the Armed Forces;retired NATO-6 employees.

An immigrant qualifying for any of these sub-categories is able to petition for permanent residence without delay. (No labor certification is required.) The attorneys at our law firm will be able to determine what applicants stand a good chance of qualifying as an EB-4.

The EB-5 category, however, is for foreign investors. According to Charles Oppenheim, the Chief of Visa Control and Reporting at USDOS, there may soon be a priority date cut-off for EB-5 investors from China. We recently published a blog article on this subject.

Greater than expected EB-5 applicants from the PRC caused the issuance of visas to exceed annual availability at the end of Fiscal Year 2013-2014. Because the USDOS had already announced that these visas were current for the rest of the fiscal year, the government “borrowed” visas from the following fiscal year’s supply. This has prompted Visa Chief Oppenheim to predict that Chinese EB-5 visas from FY ‘14-‘15 will be depleted by May 2015. This means that by then, it is likely that a priority date cut-off will be introduced. In other words, time is running out for many of those who do not wish to wait for EB-5 visas. Our firm is ready to file EB-5 cases as fast as possible to help our clients avoid the cutoff.

Putting together a case to file under one’s most favorable visa category possible can be a daunting process. Contact the Law Firm of Shihab & Associates to ensure that your employment based immigration to the United States goes as smoothly and as fast as possible.

*All other “areas of chargeability” as defined by the USDOS

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