The Department of State (DOS) Visa Bulletin for January 2014 continues to indicate limited forward movement in one of the employment-based second preference category (EB2) after a few months of rapid priority date progression. The EB2 China category moved forward one month from November 8, 2008 to December 8, 2008. The EB-2 India category remains at November 15, 2004 while the EB2 category for all other countries, including Mexico and the Philippines, remains current.
There was also limited forward movement in most of the employment-based third preference categories (EB3). While the EB-3 India category remains at September 1, 2003, the EB3 category for the Philippines moved forward from January 8, 2007 to February 15, 2007. All other EB3 categories, including Mexico and China, moved forward six months October 1, 2011 to April 1, 2012.
The employment-based first preference category (EB1) continues to remain current for all countries. The DOS has indicated that it is unlikely that there will be additional forward movement for most employment-based categories during the next few months. In addition, a sudden surge in demand could require the retrogression of a cut-off date at any time.
The priority date is effectively one’s place in line to immigrate. The priority date is established when a PERM application is filed with the Department of Labor, or for those cases not requiring a PERM application (typically EB1 cases and EB2 applications in the national interest), when the I-140 is filed with the USCIS. Individuals with priority dates earlier than the listed cut-off date on the bulletin are eligible to submit applications for adjustment of status (or consular visa applications) or if their applications are already pending may have their cases adjudicated. If ones priority date is not “current” neither agency may accept the case for processing nor adjudicate a pending case because the “visa is not available” if the priority date is not “current.”
Note that DOS looks at your country of birth in determining whether you are a national of a given country, not your country of citizenship. It is country of birth (yours or your spouse) that determines which country to which you are “charged” or “counted” against for purposes of permanent residency. For example, if you were born in India but have since become a citizen of Canada, you are still charged against India and you have to look at advancements for India rather than worldwide numbers. As another example, if you (principal applicant on an employment based process) were born in India but you are married to a person who was born in Canada, both of you can be charged against Canada. This latter example is called “cross-chargeability.”
For general information on visa retrogression, please see our FAQ on this subject. For more information on the Visa Bulletin and country quota movements, including information about movement in the Family-Based Quotas, please see our DOS Visa Bulletin and Quota Movement page, which includes detailed nationality-specific charts of quota movement since 1996. Please also note that while Congress is contemplating new immigration legislation it is far too early to look at the potential changes and their impact on the immigration system. Until new legislation is actually passed and becomes law, we can only look to the current laws for how cases will be processed.