News from 2014

December Visa Bulletin

November 10, 2014

The Department of State (DOS) Visa Bulletin for December 2014 outlining immigrant visa availability has been released. The employment-based second preference category (EB2) for China moved forward approximately three weeks from December 8, 2009 to January 1, 2010. As predicted in the November Visa Bulletin, there was no movement in the EB2 category for India which remains at February 15, 2005. The EB2 category for all other countries, including Mexico and the Philippines, remains current.

There was forward movement in all of the employment-based third preference categories (EB3). The EB3 category for India moved from November 22, 2003 to December 3, 2003. The EB3 category for China moved forward five months from January 1, 2010 to June 1, 2010. All other EB3 categories, including Mexico and the Philippines, moved forward  five months from June 1, 2012 to November 1, 2012.

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.


Holiday travel advisory

October 27, 2014

With the holidays approaching, you may be traveling outside the United States. Before you finalize your travel plans, you should take the time to review the expiration of your passport and all your US government-issued travel documents to ensure your safe return to the United States. We have prepared the following recommendations for you to follow before you make your holiday travel plans. Please contact your attorney at J&H if you have any questions.

Holiday Travel Recommendations:

  1. Check to ensure your travel documents are valid (travel documents include passports, visas, and/or advance parole documents).
  2. If you need a new visa, book a visa appointment ASAP so that you can obtain a new visa stamp.
  3. If you need a new visa stamp, beware of the possibility of security clearance checks and that your return may be delayed. Make sure your manager knows that you are applying for a new visa stamp.
  4. If you are an adjustment of status applicant, ensure that you have a valid Advance Parole document unless you can use your H or L visa to return to the US. You must return to the US while your AP is valid.
  5. If you are traveling to a country other than your home country, ensure that you have the right documents to enter that country.
  6. All of these rules apply to any family members who maybe traveling with you.
  7. When you return to the United States, log in to the CBP website and retrieve your Form I-94 record to ensure that it is accurate. Please send a copy of your I-94 record to our office along with a copy of any new visa stamp. Please do this for each family member traveling with you as well.

Check to ensure your travel documents are valid.  

First, check the expiration date of your passport, nonimmigrant visa stamp in your passport (e.g., H-1B, L-1, O-1, J-1, etc.), and your I-94 record. Please also check your spouse’s and children’s documents, if applicable. If you have an I-94 card, you will be required to surrender your I-94 card (either the white card in your passport or one attached at the bottom of the I-797 approval notice) to the immigration authorities when you depart the United States. You will, however, want to hold on to your USCIS Form I­-797 Approval Notice. When you return to the U.S. be sure to present your Form I-797 Approval Notice and valid nonimmigrant visa stamp (unless you are a visa exempt Canadian). This will demonstrate that you are eligible for admission as a nonimmigrant for the period to which the petition is valid and that you are employment authorized. You should always carry the original Form I-797 Approval Notice on all international trips assuming that the USCIS issued one to you. (Please note that nonimmigrants in certain categories, such as those entering the US under a blanket L-1, E-2, E-3, or TN, will not necessarily have an I-797 Approval Notice, unless their employers had previously filed extensions of their nonimmigrant status with USCIS).

With respect to your nonimmigrant visa stamp itself, please make sure it is valid not only at the time you depart the US, but also for a meaningful period of time after you return from your international trip. Trips to Canada or Mexico lasting less than 30 days require no visa stamp for return to the United States. In this type of situation, you may return to the US using an unexpired Form I-94. However, if you apply for a visa stamp in Canada or Mexico, and your visa stamp application is subsequently denied or delayed, you cannot return to the United States with just your I-797 Approval Notice. You would need to wait outside the U.S. for a visa to be issued.

Finally, with respect to passports: please ensure your (and any family member’s) passport(s) is (are) valid for at least six months beyond your approved period of stay in the United States. If you do not have a passport valid for the full period of authorized nonimmigrant stay, please consider getting a new passport prior to your trip, if possible. Otherwise, it is likely that US CBP will “short change” your period of authorized stay upon return to the United States. That means they will not give you the full period of stay for which you were previously authorized. This is NOT an admission error. One cannot be admitted for a period that exceeds the validity of the passport expiration date. You should contact your country’s nearest Consulate to determine how to obtain a new passport as soon as possible. The passport validity date is the controlling date for your admission to the United States.

Booking a visa appointment to get a new visa stamp (if necessary).

You may need to apply for a new nonimmigrant visa stamp at a US Consulate, if:

(1)  you have either never obtained a nonimmigrant visa stamp for your current employment category, or

(2)  if your previously-issued nonimmigrant visa stamp expires before your intended return date to the United States.

You must apply for and obtain a new visa stamp before you return from your international trip. Please make sure to book your visa appointment as early as possible, even if you do not plan to leave the United States for several weeks from now. Consular appointments typically require personal interviews that can sometimes take weeks to obtain, due to high demand during holiday travel months.

Please note under the Department of State’s Nonimmigrant Visa Interview Waiver Pilot Program, certain individuals interviewed in conjunction with a prior visa application will be allowed to renew their visas without undergoing another interview. We recommend you check with the specific US Consulate where you will apply for your visa to verify availability and eligibility under this program.

Please note that consular appointments need not necessarily be made in your home country. You may make your visa appointment in Canada, Mexico, or another country, depending upon your circumstances. However, before making a visa appointment with a US consulate in a country besides your home country, please ensure to the extent possible that the post will accept your application. For example, US Consulates in Mexico will not issue an H-1B visa to an individual who was not previously issued an H-1B visa. This means that if you were previously issued an F-1 visa and are now applying for an H-1B visa, the U.S. Consulates in Mexico will not issue you the H-1B visa. Visa application processes at different US Consulates can differ from country to country. Therefore, please check with that specific Consulate for the necessary documents and procedures at the time of making your visa appointment. You can locate different US consulates around the world by checking the US State Department website (http://www.usembassy.gov/).

Beware of security clearance checks.

Anyone applying for a nonimmigrant visa takes a risk of delay resulting from “administrative processing” or “security clearance” delays. This is particularly but not exclusively true for nationals of India, Pakistan, China, and Russia. For the past year, we have seen many citizens of Israel also held up with these processing delays. Sometimes these delays can last days, weeks, or even months. The only way to ensure you never get delayed by security clearance checks is to never apply for a nonimmigrant visa at a US Consulate. This is not a viable option for most nonimmigrants, as it would require a halt to any international travel. There is no US Consulate (e.g., in Canada or Mexico) where you are more or less likely to receive a security clearance check. Security clearance checks can be, and have been, ordered at all US Consulates, depending upon the circumstances. Please plan your travel accordingly so that a delay in your return due to security clearance checks does not come as a total surprise to those expecting your timely return to the United States. Be sure to advise your manager that you intend to apply for a visa.

If you are an applicant for adjustment of status (I-485), you should renew advance parole early.

Individuals who have applied for adjustment of status (Form I-485) can travel internationally using an advance parole (AP) document. The AP must be issued and in your possession prior to your departure from the United States and it must be valid beyond the intended return to the United States from their trip abroad. The AP is the required document for travel once the AOS is filed except for those individuals who also are the beneficiaries of valid H-1B/H-4 or L-1/L-2 status and either have unexpired H-1B/H-4 or L-1/L-2 visa stamps in their passports or will apply for new stamps at a US Consulate before returning to the US.

If you were in O, E, TN, or any other status, not including H/L at the time you filed your application for adjustment of status, you MUST have a valid AP in your possession to travel internationally. If you travel without the AP (and are not eligible to apply for an H/L visa to return), departure from the US will result in your having abandoned your application for adjustment of status.

The USCIS can often take as long as three to four months to process an advance parole renewal application. Thus, it is wise to apply for renewal of any advance parole document within four months of its expiration date, to ensure that a new advance parole document will arrive before the existing advance parole document expires. Otherwise, you may not receive your new advance parole document in time to make your international trip.

Send a copy of your visa/I-94 record to J&H after you return to the US.  

U.S. Customs & Border Protection (CBP) will no longer issue paper Form I-94 cards at most U.S. air and sea ports of entry.  Arrival and departure information is now automated, and can be accessed through a CBP website. The Form I-94 record provides evidence that international visitors, students and temporary workers have been lawfully admitted to the United States and indicates the date that the individual’s status will expire. While CBP will place an admission stamp into the passport, the traveler must log into the CBP site to obtain the Form I-94 admission record.

The Form I-94 card/record documents your lawful admission to the United States. It confirms the status under which you were admitted, and lists the date by which you must depart the United States. We need a copy of your most recent Form I-94 Card/Record if you have not already provided it to our office. To access your online Form I-94 arrival record you will need to input your personal details such as name, port and date of entry at https://i94.cbp.dhs.gov/I94/request.html.  Please print out the record to Adobe Acrobat “PDF” format, and e-mail it to us. We need this for each family member!

In addition to updating us on your most recent Form I-94, please always be sure to update us on any address, phone, and e-mail changes. As you know, as a nonimmigrant visa holder working for a US employer, the I-94 record controls your ability to lawfully work and remain in this country. Our firm works with your employer to help ensure that this critical document is never allowed to expire without extension. While we are here to help, it is ultimately your legal responsibility to ensure your I-94 records (and that of any family members accompanying you) never expire while you are still in the United States. Because you have to now retrieve the I-94 data yourself, you will want to take extra care in this regard. Please be sure to log in to the CBP website listed above each and every time you travel, and send us a copy of the I-94 record you find at the website.

Thank you and enjoy your holidays!


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.