As is more common at the end of each fiscal year, the DOS’s September 2017 Visa Bulletin (VB) continues to show retrogression even in categories that are not typically backlogged. The VB lists the EB-2 category for all countries as retrogressed. This is impacting “all countries.” India and China remain retrogressed at essentially the same dates as reflected in the July bulletin. Similarly, the EB-1 category for China and India, and the EB-3 category for China, continue to be retrogressed. India experienced no real movement in the EB-3 category, whereas the EB-3 final action date for the Philippines advanced by a few months. Otherwise, the EB-1 and EB-3 visa categories for all countries (except China and India), and the EB-5 category for all countries (except China), remain current.
This month’s VB highlights are as follows:
EB-1: Both India and China are still retrogressed to a final action date of January 1, 2012 (from being current). However, both countries are expected to return to being current next month in the October 2017 Visa Bulletin, which is the first month of fiscal year 2018. All other countries are still current and are expected to remain so.
EB-2: “All countries” remain retrogressed, although the final action a date moved forward nearly a year (except for India and China). Apart from these two countries, all countries should return to being current in the October 2017 Visa Bulletin. China and India continue to be the exceptions in that they both have final action dates that continue to experience little movement forward, and neither country is anticipated to experience meaningful movement for the next few months.
EB-3: Unlike under the EB-2 category, the “all countries” EB-3 category is not retrogressed. China remains retrogressed (i.e. to a final action date of January 1, 2012 from October 1, 2014). However, the China final action date in this category date is expected to return to October 1, 2014 in the new fiscal year (i.e. October 2017 Visa Bulletin). Further, India only experienced nominal movement. The Philippines only advanced by a few months, and all other countries are current.
EB-5: As has been the trend, all countries remain current except for China, which has only experienced no advances and is not expected to see any large movement. However, the regional center category will again become unavailable in the October 2017 Visa Bulletin if no other extension is passed, as the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2017 only extended the regional center program until September 30, 2017.
General Notes on Final Action Dates: The final action or cutoff date is effectively one’s place in line to immigrate based on the individual’s priority date. Individuals with priority dates earlier than the listed cut-off date on the VB 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 accept the case for processing nor adjudicate a pending case because the “visa is not available” if the final action dates is not “current.” The priority date is established a number of ways:
- PERM: The date on which the application is filed with the Department of Labor, provided that the PERM is approved and an I-140 is then filed and approved based on the PERM.
- EB1 & EB2 (NIW, Schedule A): The date on which the I-140 is filed with the USCIS, provided that the petition is approved.
- EB-5: The date on which the Form I-526, Immigrant Petition by Alien Entrepreneur is received by USCIS, provided that the petition is approved.
- Family-based immigration cases: The date on which the I-130 is filed with the USCIS, provided that the petition is approved.
Note that DOS looks at one’s country of birth in determining whether one is a national of a given country, not the country of citizenship. It is country of birth (principal alien or his/her spouse) that determines the country of chargeability to be “counted” against for purposes of permanent residency. Counting against the country of birth of one’s spouse 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.