News from 2014

November Visa Bulletin

October 10, 2014

The Department of State (DOS) Visa Bulletin for November 2014 outlining immigrant visa availability has been released.  As predicted in the October Visa Bulletin, the employment-based second preference category (EB2) for India retrogressed from May 1, 2009 to February 15, 2005. The EB2 China category moved forward approximately three weeks from November 15, 2009 to December 8, 2009. The EB2 category for all other countries, including Mexico and the Philippines, remains current. The DOS has indicated there will be no movement in the EB2 category for India in the next few months. The EB2 category for China will likely move forward three to five weeks while the EB2 category for all other countries will remain current.

There was forward movement in all of the employment-based third preference categories (EB3). The EB3 category for India moved from November 15, 2003 to November 22, 2003. The EB3 category for China moved forward from April 1, 2009 to January 1, 2010. All other EB3 categories, including Mexico and the Philippines, moved forward eight months from October 1, 2011 to June 1, 2012.The DOS has indicated there will likely be rapid forward movement in the EB3 China and worldwide categories, including Mexico and the Philippines. This rapid forward movement will lead to increased demand for visa numbers and the DOS may take “corrective” action later in the fiscal year. The DOS has predicted little, if any movement, in the EB3 India category.

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 cases and EB2 applications in the national interest), when the I-140 is filed with the 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 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.


2016 DV Lottery Registration Announced

September 24, 2014

The 2016 Diversity Visa Lottery Registration window opens Wednesday, October 1, 2014. The Department of State has an annual diversity visa (“DV”) lottery for immigration to the United States. This program is commonly called the “Green Card Lottery”. Under this program, a maximum of 55,000 immigrants can enter the United States each year from countries with low rates of immigration to the United States. For the 2016 lottery, 50,000 Diversity Visas will be available. Individuals who have successfully entered the lottery are randomly selected by the computer to submit applications for U.S. permanent residency.

An applicant for a Diversity Visa must have either a high school education (or its equivalent) or two years of work experience within the past five years in an occupation requiring at least two years of training or experience.

To apply, an individual fills out an online form at https://www.dvlottery.state.gov/ through the official DV lottery website. Entries will be accepted between noon (Eastern Daylight Time) on Wednesday October 1, 2014 and noon (Eastern Standard Time) on Monday, November 3, 2014. It is recommended that applicants apply as early as possible.  An individual can only apply once, multiple registrations disqualifies an individual. Selection of applicants can be checked starting May 5, 2015.  There is no cost to apply, but if you are selected there are fees associated with immigration to the United States. A list of this year’s designated countries and detailed instructions about applying and eligibility can be found here: http://travel.state.gov/content/dam/visas/DV-2016-Instructions-Translations/DV_2016_Instructions_English.pdf


October Visa Bulletin

September 12, 2014

The Department of State (DOS) Visa Bulletin for October 2014 outlining immigrant visa availability has been released. The DOS has indicated that retrogression is imminent in the employment-based second preference category (EB2) for India. In November, the EB2 India category will likely retrogress to early 2005. Individuals with current priority dates should ensure their adjustment of status applications are filed with USCIS by the end of October 2014. In addition, immigrant visas in the EB2 India category are currently “unavailable” as the USCIS has already reached the maximum number of EB2 immigrant visas available for India for Fiscal 2014. During September, the USCIS will continue to accept and process EB2 India cases with priority dates earlier than May 1, 2009 but cases will not be approved until the start of the new Fiscal Year on October 1, 2014.

The October Visa Bulletin continues to indicate limited forward movement in one of the employment-based second preference categories. The EB2 China category moved forward approximately five weeks from October 8, 2009 to November 15, 2009. The EB2 India category remains at May 1, 2009 while the EB2 category for all other countries, including Mexico and the Philippines, remains current.

There was also forward movement in all of the employment-based third preference categories (EB3). The EB3 category for India moved from November 8, 2003 to November 15, 2003. The EB3 category for China moved forward from November 1, 2008 to April 1, 2009. All other EB3 categories, including Mexico and the Philippines, moved forward six months from April 1, 20011 to October 1, 2011.

The employment-based first preference category (EB1) continues to remain current for all countries.

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. 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 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.


Visa system delays mostly resolved

September 9, 2014

The U.S. Department of State has announced that they have cleared the backlog of nonimmigrant visas and passports recently delayed due to technical issues with the Consular Consolidated Database (CDC). The DOS continues to prioritize visa issuance for immigrant visas, adoption cases, and emergency nonimmigrant visa cases as they work to bring the CDC back to full capacity. Please continue to check your specific embassy or consulate’s website for additional information regarding any residual delays in visa and passport issuance.


September Visa Bulletin

August 26, 2014

The Department of State (DOS) Visa Bulletin for September 2014 outlining immigrant visa availability movement has been released.

A major announcement relating to EB-5 investor visas was made by Charlie Oppenheim, the DOS Chief of Visa Control and Reporting Division, which affects the September Bulletin. He announced that effective Saturday, August 23, 2014, the number of EB-5 visas available to those born in China has been reached for the 2014 fiscal year, which ends on September 30, 2014.

The EB2 India category continues to move forward from January 22, 2009 to May 01, 2009. As we noted in last month’s update, DOS unofficially predicted this forward movement towards the later part of the fiscal year, which ends in September 2014, in order to utilize EB2 visa numbers that were unused by other categories. This rapid movement forward is expected to continue. However, the duration of this trend is uncertain and will depend on the demand on the available visa numbers by applicants with priority dates earlier than the new cut-off date.

The EB2 China category remains unchanged at October 8, 2009.  The EB2 category for all other countries, including Mexico and the Philippines, remains current.

There is also some forward movement in the employment-based third preference category (EB3) for the Philippines. The EB3 category for the Philippines moved forward from June 1, 2010 to April 1, 2011.

The EB3 category for Mexico remains at April 1, 2011.  The EB3 category for China stays at November 1, 2008. The EB3 category for India is still at November 8, 2003. The EB3 category for all other countries stays at April 1, 2011.

The employment-based first preference category (EB1) continues to remain current for all countries.

Family based (FB) preference categories showed forward movement in some but not all categories for all countries of birth, most prominently the F-2A category (for spouses and children under 21 of lawful permanent residents).

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. 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 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.


Technical issues with visa system causing delays

July 30, 2014

The Department of State Bureau of Consular Affairs has provided an update regarding the technical issues that are causing U.S. visa processing backlogs. The technical issues with the global visa processing system have caused delays at U.S. Consulates around the world. The system is technically functional but issuing visas at a reduced capacity. The Department of State is making progress in restoring the nonimmigrant visa system to full functionality. They have implemented a system change aimed at addressing the technical challenges. Please note some Embassies and Consulates may temporarily limit or reschedule nonimmigrant visa interview appointments until the problem is resolved.


August Visa Bulletin

July 10, 2014

The Department of State (DOS) Visa Bulletin for August 2014 has been released, and  again presents good news for the employment-based, second preference (EB2) category for India. The EB2 India category moves forward from September 1, 2008 to January 22, 2009. As we noted in last month’s update, DOS unofficially predicted this forward movement towards the later part of the fiscal year (which ends in September 2014), in order to utilize EB2 visa numbers that were unused by other categories. This rapid movement forward is expected to continue; however the duration of this trend is uncertain and will depend on demand on available visa numbers by applicants with priority dates earlier than the new cut-off date.

This month’s Visa Bulletin also provides for limited movement forward in the EB2 category for China.   The EB2 China category moved forward from July 1, 2009 to October 8, 2009.  The EB2 category for all other countries, including Mexico and the Philippines, remains current.

There is also some forward movement in a few of the employment-based third preference categories (EB3).The EB3 category for the Philippines moved forward from January 1, 2009 to June 1, 2010.The EB3 category for China moved forward from October 1, 2006 to November 1, 2008.

The EB3 category for Mexico remains at April 1, 2011. The EB3 category for India remains in November, pushing forward a few days to November 8, 2003.The EB3 category for all other countries stays at April 1, 2011.

The employment-based first preference category (EB1) continues to remain current for all countries.

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. 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 visa applications) or if their applications are already pending may have their cases adjudicated. If one’s priority date is not “current,” neither agency may either 1) accept the case for processing, nor 2) adjudicate a filed and pending case, because an immigrant 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.


July Visa Bulletin

June 10, 2014

The Department of State (DOS) Visa Bulletin for July 2014 has been released, and  presents good news for the employment-based, second preference (EB2) category for India. The EB2 India category moves forward dramatically, from November 15, 2004 to September 1, 2008. DOS unofficially predicted this forward movement towards the later part of the fiscal year (which ends in September 2014), in order to utilize EB2 visa numbers that were unused by other categories.

There is also limited movement forward in the EB2 category for China.   The EB2 China category moved forward from May 22, 2009 to July 1, 2009.  The EB2 category for all other countries, including Mexico and the Philippines, remains current.

There is also some forward movement in a few of the employment-based third preference categories (EB3).The EB3 category for the Philippines moved forward from January 1, 2008 to January 1, 2009. The EB3 category for India moved from October 15, 2003 to November 1, 2003.

The EB3 category for Mexico remains at April 1, 2011. The EB3 category for China is also unchanged, at October 1, 2006. The EB3 category for all other countries stays at April 1, 2011.

The employment-based first preference category (EB1) continues to remain current for all countries.

Family based (FB) immigrant visa numbers also demonstrated limited forward movement.

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. 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 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.


June Visa Bulletin

May 8, 2014

The Department of State (DOS) Visa Bulletin for June 2014 has been released.  There is limited movement forward in some of the employment-based categories. The EB2 China category moved forward from April 15, 2009 to May 22, 2009. The EB2 India category remains at November 15, 2004 while the EB2 category for all other countries, including Mexico and the Philippines, remains current.

There is also limited forward movement in a few of the employment-based third preference categories (EB3). The EB3 category for India moved from October 1, 2003 to October 15, 2003. The EB3 category for the Philippines moved forward from November 1, 2007 to January 1, 2008.

There is significant movement backwards in all other EB3 categories.  The EB3 category for Mexico moved from October 1, 2012 to April 1, 2011. The EB3 category for China moved from October 1, 2012 to October 1, 2006. The EB3 category for all other countries moved from October 1, 2012 to April 1, 2011.

The employment-based first preference category (EB1) continues to remain current for all countries.

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. 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 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.

 


DHS announces proposals to expand work authorization to some H-4 spouses

May 6, 2014

On May 6, 2014, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced the publication of two proposed rules aimed at attracting and retaining highly skilled immigrants to the United States.

One of the rules would extend work authorization to some spouses of H-1B nonimmigrants. Under current regulations, spouses of H-1B nonimmigrants (H-4 nonimmigrants) are unable to work in the United States. In the situation where an employer is sponsoring an H-1B employee for a green card, the process can take many years to complete, due to processing time delays or immigrant visa priority date backlogs. This proposed rule change would allow certain spouses in this situation to obtain work authorization. It would enable H-4 nonimmigrants, whose spouses are in the process of applying for permanent resident status based on an offer of employment, to work while waiting for the family to immigrate. Specifically, H-4 spouses of H-1B nonimmigrants who are the beneficiary of an approved I-140 immigrant visa petition, or of an H-1B extension of status beyond the six year limit, would become eligible for work authorization.

The other proposed rule changes would better align the H-1B1 (Singapore and Chilean) and E-3 (Australian) work visas to other employment classifications allowing for continued work authorization while applications for extension of stay are pending with the USCIS.

Neither of these regulatory changes is in effect and are simply proposals by the agency.  You may read the press release here.