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

Below is our monthly analysis of the State Department’s Visa Bulletin regarding employment-based immigration. This month was very eventful. China’s EB-2 and EB-3 dates advance healthily, but its EB-5 cutoff finally arrived. India’s EB-2 date continues to advance, though Filipinos now join Indians in having a relatively poor EB-3 cutoff date. In sharp contrast, the rest of the world’s hits 2015.

First Preference Immigrant Workers (EB-1): Priority Workers

All those who qualify as EB-1 workers continue to have no priority date cut-off. They are also immediately eligible to petition for permanent residence, as 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 Immigrant Workers (EB-2): " Members of the Professions Holding Advanced Degrees or Persons of Exceptional Ability"

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.” Many EB-2 workers have no priority date cutoff. However, the two largest areas, India and mainland (PRC) China, do. While this is an unfortunate distinction for many immigrants, the cutoffs are now advancing strongly.

Nonetheless, it is unclear how long they can keep this up. For the Chinese date, the expectation was that when the EB-3 retrogression occurred, there would be no more major EB-2 advancements. However, this is not the case. Both dates advance this month. There are many possible causes for this, such as demand gauging or high rates of petition abandonment in the dates passed over. The EB-5 retrogression may have something to do with it as well. The Indian date’s movements are expected to keep up for at least a few more months. The cutoff was in 2009 in bulletins from last fall (before retrogressing), so it should not be farfetched to assume that it will make it back to 2009 by the end of the fiscal year.

China (PRC)April 1 st 2011
IndiaSeptember 1st 2007

China (PRC)June 1st 2012
IndiaApril 15th 2008

Third Preference Immigrant Workers (EB-3): " Skilled Workers and Professionals" and “Other Workers” (Two Separate Sub-Categories)

Third Preference “EB-3” workers are effectively 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, and historically only those from India and China have experienced appreciable wait times. However, Filipinos join them this month. It was hinted that this would happen, but retrogression this strong was not expected. Advancements are likely to soften the blow in the coming months.

For Chinese filers, this is precisely what’s happening. This month, the date was able to cut last month’s retrogression in half (if the two months are taken together). But with the huge EB-2 movement, this advancement does not signify a chance for the dates to switch places again. All in all, this is a very good month for non-EB-5 Chinese filers. The Chinese Other Workers date** even moved by a few months as well.

For the Indian date, however, there’s no change this month. It’s stuck at one-week-per-month at the bottom of 2004. Demand here may be strong enough to preclude any major advancement for a year at least. The rest of the world’s date, however, is doing very well. Without the Philippines in its scope, it inches even closer to the present day by making it to 2015. Earlier predictions that this date won’t make it to the present day may have to be revised.

China (PRC)January 1st 2011
IndiaJanuary 8th 2004
PhilippinesOctober 1 st 2014
All Other Areas*October 1st 2014

China (PRC)May 1 st 2011
IndiaJanuary 15 th 2004
PhilippinesJuly 1 st 2007
All Other Areas*January 1 st 2015

**Other Workers from China have a priority date cutoff of November 15th 2005. Applicants of all other nationalities have the same priority date cutoff for both EB-3 types, so the two are combined in the chart.

Certain Special Immigrants (EB-4)

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;
Broadcasters;Employees 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, as no labor certification is required. We can determine what applicants stand a good chance of qualifying as an EB-4.

Employment Creation (EB-5)

This category is for immigrant investors. To qualify in most locations, $1,000,000 must be invested, but in “Target Employment Areas” this is cut by half. These are rural areas or places with unemployment rates at least 1.5 times the national average according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. In both cases however, immigrants must create or save at least 10 jobs to ultimately qualify for permanent residence. They can invest directly and run their own businesses, or they can invest with less risk through a “regional center.” We have written several articles on the subject.

Until this month, there had never been a cutoff in this category. There is now one for Chinese filers, as has been long predicted. Priority date cutoffs will affect this category somewhat differently than they do the others. While potential investors can start the process right away, only those whose petitions were received by USCIS before May 1st 2013 may obtain EB-5 residence. (Again, this only applies to Chinese filers.) Unfortunately, this complicates matters a great deal. We will soon be posting a blog article on advice for Chinese EB-5 filers.

Successfully filing 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 quickly as possible.

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

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