Jan 2016 Visa Bulletin Analysis Essay

*Employment Third Preference Other Workers Category:  Section 203(e) of the Nicaraguan and Central American Relief Act (NACARA) passed by Congress in November 1997, as amended by Section 1(e) of Pub. L. 105-139, provides that once the Employment Third Preference Other Worker (EW) cut-off date has reached the priority date of the latest EW petition approved prior to November 19, 1997, the 10,000 EW numbers available for a fiscal year are to be reduced by up to 5,000 annually beginning in the following fiscal year. This reduction is to be made for as long as necessary to offset adjustments under the NACARA program. Since the EW cut-off date reached November 19, 1997 during Fiscal Year 2001, the reduction in the EW annual limit to 5,000 began in Fiscal Year 2002.

B.  DATES FOR FILING OF EMPLOYMENT-BASED VISA APPLICATIONS

The chart below reflects dates for filing visa applications within a timeframe justifying immediate action in the application process. Applicants for immigrant visas who have a priority date earlier than the cut-off date in the chart may assemble and submit required documents to the Department of State’s National Visa Center, following receipt of notification from the National Visa Center containing detailed instructions. The cut-off date for an oversubscribed category is the priority date of the first applicant who cannot submit documentation to the National Visa Center for an immigrant visa. If a category is designated “current,” all applicants in the relevant category may file, regardless of priority date.

The “C” listing indicates that the category is current, and that applications may be filed regardless of the applicant’s priority date. The listing of a date for any category indicates that only applicants with a priority date which is earlier than the listed date may file their application.

Visit www.uscis.gov/visabulletininfo for information on whether USCIS has determined that this chart can be used (in lieu of the chart in paragraph 5.A.) this month for filing applications for adjustment of status with USCIS. 

Employment-
Based
All Chargeability
Areas Except
Those Listed
CHINA-
mainland
born
INDIAMEXICOPHILIPPINES
1stCCCCC
2ndC01JAN1301JUL09CC
3rd01JAN1601OCT1301JUL0501JAN1601JAN10
Other Workers01JAN1601JAN0701JUL0501JAN1601JAN10
4thCCCCC
Certain Religious WorkersCCCCC
5th Non-Regional
Center (C5 and T5)
C01MAY15CCC
5th Regional Center
(I5 and R5)
C01MAY15CCC

6.  The Department of State has a recorded message with the cut-off date information for Final Application Action which can be heard at:  (202) 485-7699.  This recording is updated on or about the tenth of each month with information on cut-off dates for the following month.

B.  DIVERSITY IMMIGRANT (DV) CATEGORY FOR THE MONTH OF JANUARY

Section 203(c) of the INA provides up to 55,000 immigrant visas each fiscal year to permit additional immigration opportunities for persons from countries with low admissions during the previous five years. The NACARA stipulates that beginning with DV-99, and for as long as necessary, up to 5,000 of the 55,000 annually-allocated diversity visas will be made available for use under the NACARA program. This resulted in reduction of the DV-2016 annual limit to 50,000. DV visas are divided among six geographic regions.  No one country can receive more than seven percent of the available diversity visas in any one year.

For January, immigrant numbers in the DV category are available to qualified DV-2016 applicants chargeable to all regions/eligible countries as follows. When an allocation cut-off number is shown, visas are available only for applicants with DV regional lottery rank numbers BELOW the specified allocation cut-off number:

RegionAll DV Chargeability Areas Except
Those Listed Separately
 
AFRICA15,500Except:
Ethiopia:  13,800
ASIA4,150

Except:
Nepal:      2,925

EUROPE16,425 
NORTH AMERICA (BAHAMAS)3 
OCEANIA615 
SOUTH AMERICA,
and the CARIBBEAN
650 

Entitlement to immigrant status in the DV category lasts only through the end of the fiscal (visa) year for which the applicant is selected in the lottery. The year of entitlement for all applicants registered for the DV-2016 program ends as of September 30, 2016. DV visas may not be issued to DV-2016 applicants after that date. Similarly, spouses and children accompanying or following to join DV-2016 principals are only entitled to derivative DV status until September 30, 2016. DV visa availability through the very end of FY-2016 cannot be taken for granted. Numbers could be exhausted prior to September 30.

C.  THE DIVERSITY (DV) IMMIGRANT CATEGORY RANK CUT-OFFS WHICH WILL APPLY IN FEBRUARY

For February, immigrant numbers in the DV category are available to qualified DV-2016 applicants chargeable to all regions/eligible countries as follows. When an allocation cut-off number is shown, visas are available only for applicants with DV regional lottery rank numbers BELOW the specified allocation cut-off number:

RegionAll DV Chargeability Areas Except
Those Listed Separately
 
AFRICA17,200Except:
Ethiopia:  16,100
ASIA4,500Except:
Nepal:      3,700
EUROPE19,100 
NORTH AMERICA (BAHAMAS)5 
OCEANIA750 
SOUTH AMERICA,
and the CARIBBEAN
750 

D.  SCHEDULED EXPIRATION OF TWO EMPLOYMENT VISA CATEGORIES

Employment Fourth Preference Certain Religious Workers (SR): Pursuant to Section 132 of Public Law 114-53, the non-minister special immigrant program expires on December 11, 2015. No SR visas may be issued overseas, or final action taken on adjustment of status cases, after midnight December 10, 2015. Visas issued prior to this date will only be issued with a validity date of December 10, 2015, and all individuals seeking admission as a non-minister special immigrant must be admitted (repeat, admitted) into the U.S. no later than midnight December 10, 2015.

Employment Fifth Preference Categories (I5 and R5): Section 133 of Public Law 114-53 extended this immigrant investor pilot program through December 11, 2015. The I5 and R5 visas may be issued until close of business on December 11, 2015, and may be issued for the full validity period. No I5 or R5 visas may be issued overseas, or final action taken on adjustment of status cases, after December 11, 2015.

The cut-off dates for the categories mentioned above have been listed as "Unavailable" for January. Congress is currently considering an extension of the SR, I5 and R5 visa categories, but there is no certainty when such legislative action may occur. If there is legislative action extending one or both of these categories for FY-2016, those cut-off dates would immediately become "Current" for January for all countries except China-mainland born I5 and R5 categories which would be subject to a January 8, 2014 cut-off date.

E.  OBTAINING THE MONTHLY VISA BULLETIN

To be placed on the Department of State’s E-mail subscription list for the “Visa Bulletin”, please send an E-mail to the following E-mail address:

listserv@calist.state.gov

and in the message body type:
Subscribe Visa-Bulletin 
(example: Subscribe Visa-Bulletin)

To be removed from the Department of State’s E-mail subscription list for the “Visa Bulletin”, send an e-mail message to the following E-mail address:

listserv@calist.state.gov

and in the message body type: Signoff Visa-Bulletin

The Department of State also has available a recorded message with visa cut-off dates which can be heard at: (202) 485-7699. The recording is normally updated on/about the 10th of each month with information on cut-off dates for the following month.

Readers may submit questions regarding Visa Bulletin related items by E-mail at the following address:

VISABULLETIN@STATE.GOV

(This address cannot be used to subscribe to the Visa Bulletin.)

Department of State Publication 9514
CA/VO:   December 9, 2015

January 2016 Visa Bulletin was released earlier today.

EB2:

Cut-off dates for EB2 India moved from 01 JUN 07 to 01 FEB 08. EB2 China stayed at 01 FEB 12. The cut-off for all other EB2 countries are Current.

Good News is the EB2 India is moving forward.

EB3:

Cut-off dates for EB3 India moved from 22 APR 04 to 15 MAY 04. EB3 China moved from 15 APR 12 to 01 JUL 12. EB3 Philippines moved from 01 AUG 07 to 01 NOV 07. For all other countries the date moved from 01 SEP 15 to 01 OCT 15.

Good news is there is forward movement for all countries.

I-485 Pending inventory:

I-485 pending inventory data was released in October. For EB2 India, there are 18,814 pending applications, whose priority is before 01 MAY 2010. For EB3 India, it is 20,207 applicants before 01 SEPT 2007 Priority date.

What is new ?:

From October visa bulletin, they introduced two different dates. The above dates you see reflect the cut-off date for getting Green Card. They have introduced a new chart of dates. If your priority date is before the cut-off date, then you can apply for I-485, EAD and AP.

More information is here  -- http://www.uscis.gov/visabulletininfo#New Visa

EB2:

Adjustment of Status (AOS) filing cut off date for EB2 India is 01 JUL 09. For, EB2 China it is 01 JAN 13. The cut-off for all other EB2 countries are Current.

EB3:

Adjustment of Status (AOS) filing cut off date for EB3 India is 01 JUL 05. For, EB3 China it is 01 OCT 13; For EB3 Philippines it is 01 JAN 10. For all other countries it is 01 JAN 16.

After this, they recently introduced another complexity to this whole puzzle. Now, you see this date on DOS visa bulletin and then, you have to go verify if the same chart is applicable or not on USCIS website. USCIS will determine according to its inventory, whether they want to introduce a new chart. That info can be filed here -- http://www.uscis.gov/visabulletininfo 

What to Expect Next Few Months:

For EB3 India:

I am hoping EB3 India will keep moving forward 2 to 3 weeks, every visa bulletin.

For EB2 India:

What will happen will depends on DOS Strategy. From the looks of it, they are keeping the AOS date as it is and moving the Green Card date slowly forward. It will change based on EB3 to EB2 conversion.

If you are waiting to file I-485, please use this opportunity to gather all the documents and keep it in place:

The above links are for reference only. Please check with your lawyer and check the USCIS website for official latest list.

Final Notes:


I am still trying to wrap my head around why DOS has to introduce this chart and then USCIS has to decide whether this one or new one. Why not USCIS release it directly ? I don't have an answer.

This fiscal year has been very dramatic. From the time DOS introduced the new chart, with very high numbers and then retrogress back, even before October. Then, they decided, DOS will introduce it and USCIS will decide and introduce another chart. I am expecting more to come as they try new things to implement President's Executive Order. We will keep a watch.


For all EB2, EB3 India folks -- Unfortunately, if we want to be here, we all have to go through it. Yes, it is a tough long frustrating journey. Hang in there. It will get over soon.

Links:
You can see the official January 2016 Visa Bulletin here -http://travel.state.gov/content/visas/en/law-and-policy/bulletin/2016/visa-bulletin-for-january-2016.html

You can see the official I-485 pending inventory Data here - http://www.uscis.gov/green-card/green-card-through-job/previous-pending-employment-based-i-485-inventory/pending-employment-based-i-485-inventory

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