The Department of State (DOS) Visa Bulletin for June 2015 outlining immigrant visa availability and updating availability from the Visa Bulletin for May 2015 has been released.
The Chief of the Visa Control and Reporting Division at DOS, Charles Oppenheim, is responsible for oversight of immigrant visa usage. He had previously indicated that retrogression in the EB-5 immigrant visa category for investors from mainland China would likely take place in 2015. The retrogression went into effect for mainland China EB-5 investors in the May 2015 Visa Bulletin. In May 2015, immigrant visa availability was no longer “current” and instead retrogressed to May 1, 2013. This date remains unchanged as of the June 2015 Visa Bulletin for mainland China EB-5 investors.
By contrast, there was forward movement in the other immigrant categories. The employment-based second preference category (EB2) for China moved forward from April 1, 2011 to June 1, 2012 in the May Visa Bulletin, and more dramatically, an entire year forward to June 1, 2013 in the June Visa Bulletin.
There was also movement in the EB2 category for India, from September 1, 2007 to April 15, 2008 in the May Visa Bulletin, and again to October 8, 2008 in the June Visa Bulletin.
The EB2 category for all other countries, including Mexico and the Philippines, remains current.
There was forward movement in most of the employment-based third preference categories (EB3) as well. The EB3 category for India moved forward slightly from January 8, 2004 to January 15, 2004 in the May Visa Bulletin, and to January 22, 2004 in the June Visa Bulletin. The EB3 category for China moved forward more from January 1, 2011 to May 1, 2011 in the May Visa Bulletin, and to September 1, 2011 in the June Visa Bulletin.
The “all other counties” and Mexico EB3 categories moved forward from October 1, 2014 to January 1, 2015 in the May Visa Bulletin, and to February 15, 2015 in the June Visa Bulletin.
However, the EB3 category for the Philippines retrogressed from October 1, 2014 to July 1, 2007 in the May Visa Bulletin, and further retrogressed to January 1, 2005 in the June Visa Bulletin.
The employment-based first preference category (EB1) continues to remain current for all countries and the DOS has indicated it will remain current in the upcoming months.
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 petitions and EB2 petitions in the national interest), when the I-140 is filed with the USCIS. In the EB-5 context, the priority date is the date that the Form I-526, Immigrant Petition by Alien Entrepreneur is received by USCIS. For family-based immigration cases, the priority date is established when the I-130 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 immigrant visa applications). If these applications were filed and pending but a visa number became unavailable, and then has become available again, these individuals may now have their cases adjudicated by USCIS or DOS. If one’s 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 must refer to 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 that may change immigrant visa chargeability and backlogs, 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.