Predictions for Visa Availability
These are the latest predictions from the Chief of the Visa Control
and Reporting Division for the U.S. Department of State concerning
probable movement of priority dates in the coming months:
EB1 will remain Current.
EB2 will remain Current for the world,
China - will move forward, possibly
become Current at some point
India - future
movement is uncertain; best case will reach Summer of 2009
Worldwide should remain "near current" - within 3 or 4 months of
China - may reach early Spring,
India - should advance one to two weeks
Philippines - expected to
EB4 - possible retrogression for some countries -
EB5 - Current for all except China.
China - by September, may reach November 2013, best case
continue backlogs, with forward movement each month:
F1 - 2 to 3 weeks
F2A - 3 to 5 weeks
F2B - limited 4 weeks
F3 - up to 2 weeks
F4 - 3 to 6 weeks
While these predictions come from the individual who actually sets
the priority dates each month, they are not guaranteed.
Expectations of movement in visa availability is based on current and
expected demand for visas. Actual demand may not be the same as
expected demand and may result in very different cutoff dates than those
Visa Bulletin - movement expected
EB 3 Worldwide is virtually current
EB2 China to move three to
five weeks per month
EB2 India expected to move to June or July 2008
in May, then late 2009 by August
EB3 India will move one to two weeks
EB3 for the "world" (i.e., not India or China) is October, 2014 this
month. We expect it to move to December, 2014 when the May Visa
Bulletin is published later this week. Almost all EB3 I-485
petitions and immigrant visa applications are based on approved Labor
Certifications. It is taking the Department of Labor four to six
months to approve a Labor Certification - and the priority date relates
back to the date of filing. Labor certifications which are
approved on or before May 2015 are very likely to have priority dates
which are current.
The Chief of the Immigrant Visa Control
Division is predicting that EB2 for China will move three to five weeks
per months for the next several months. EB2 India is expected to
move to June or July 2008 when the May Visa Bulletin is published, and
should reach late 2009 by the time the August Visa
Bulletin is published. India EB3 will advance one or two
weeks per month.
These predictions are always subject to
change as demand for visas changes in unexpected ways.
December Visa Bulletin -
India EB2 stuck at 15 Feb 2005 but good news later this year.
As predicted, EB2 India retrogressed substantially in November. Little changes with the December Visa Bulletin. Worldwide, EB2
remains current, and EB3 advances seven months to June 1, 2012.
EB2 China moves forward a bit less than a month to January 1, 2010,
while EB2 India remains at February 15, 2005. EB3 China is
still ahead of EB2 China, but we expect "downgrades" to balance that
situation within a few months. EB3 China didn't move this month.
EB3 India advanced a week to December 1, 2003.
We do not expect India EB2 to move
significantly until near the end of the fiscal year - next August or
September. At that time, predictions are for India EB2
to jump almost five years to at least late 2009, and possibly early 2010.
Good news with September Visa Bulletin
Another big jump for India EB2 - China "stuck"
EB2 India has advanced to May 1, 2009 - and EB2 China remains at
October 8, 2009. Worldwide, EB2 otherwise remains "current."
Worldwide EB3 is April 1, 2011, China and India remain at their
August dates: November 1, 2008 and India an November 8, 2003.
Both India and China have used their EB2 allocations for this
fiscal year. However, there are additional visa
numbers available which are "otherwise unused" by the rest of the world.
These "extra" numbers are allocated in strict priority date order.
As a result, they will go first to India as India EB2 is backed up
further than China EB2. If India ever catches up to China,
additional numbers will then be available for both countries.
prediction that retrogression in EB2 for India would occur October
1st with the start of the new fiscal year is evidently premature.
The State Department is now predicting retrogression may not occur until
November. In any event, we highly recommend filing adjustment of
status applications in the first month in which a priority date is
reached - unless there is good reason to wait.
India EB2 & China EB3 move forward
Good news continues, but may not last
India EB2 has advanced again - this time to January 22, 2009.
China EB3 has moved forward to November 1, 2008. These advances
are occurring at the end of the fiscal year as the State Department
accounts for availability due to expected unused numbers in worldwide
This happens only at the end of the fiscal year, and the State
Department warns that : "Heavy demand by applicants with priority dates
significantly earlier than the established cut-off date is expected to
materialize within the next several months, at which time the cut-off
date is likely to retrogress significantly."
Retrogression will almost certainly occur with the start of the new
fiscal year on October 1st. Those now able to file I-485
applications should not expect their applications to be adjudicated
before retrogression. Those who have pending applications with
priority dates now current may hope to be processed before
retrogression - but once the visa number limits are reached, processing
will again be suspended.
India EB2 - September 2008
After more than six months going nowhere, India EB2 has jumped to
September 1, 2008. Expect retrogression in the Fall
Each year, many categories of unused employment based visa numbers
are made available to EB2 applicants without regard to per country
limitations. India reached its "per country" EB2 limit early this
year - which is why the priority date has not moved since December,
2013. Now, with the end of the fiscal year approaching, unused
visa numbers are being made available in EB2 to those with the oldest
priority dates - virtually all from India.
Those "extra" numbers are likely to be used quickly, and will not
remain available after the end of the fiscal year. Those who are
eligible to file adjustment of status applications in July based on the
jump in India EB2 should do so - but should not expect to have their
applications completed before retrogression. Those with pending
I-485 applications should be certain USCIS has current contact
information and should immediately respond to any request for evidence.
India Frozen - EB2 and EB3
No good news for India or China in new Visa Bulletin -
EB3 not progressing
The March Visa Bulletin shows EB2 India at November 15, 2004.
There has been no forward movement since December, when EB2 India
retrogressed more than four years. More discouraging, the Visa
Bulletin predicts "No Forward Movement" in "the coming months."
EB3 India is backlogged to September 15, 2003, with very little movement
expected. China EB2 is February 15, 2009 and is expected to
progress three to five weeks in the coming months. "Extra"
EB2 numbers available at year end allocated from unused numbers from
other categories will primarily go to India until India EB2 catches up
to China EB2. Worldwide EB2 is expected to remain current.
Worldwide EB3, currently at September 1, 2012 (China is the same) is not
expected to progress much further in coming months.
EB2 India jumps again in September - 6/15/2008
EB3 Worldwide to
July 1, 2010 - 18 months
EB2 for India has jumped again in September to June 15, 2008 from
January 1, 2008 in August. This is huge leap at the end of the
fiscal year, particularly considering that EB2 India has been "stuck" at
September 1, 2004 for the first ten months of the fiscal year.
China EB2 remains at August 8, 2008.
The State Department
visa office has indicated that demand for older numbers from USCIS has
"bottomed out" resulting in the current movement. India has
already used up its allocated EB2 visa numbers this year.
The movement is due to "left over" numbers which drop down to EB2 from
EB1. Those numbers are allocated in strict priority date order,
with no "per country" limitation. Once EB2 applicants from India
with priority dates earlier than August 8, 2008 are accommodated, future
allocations will benefit China.
WARNING: Count on India EB2
to retrogress again on October 1st with the start of the new fiscal
EB2 India to "thaw" - multi year jump coming?
EB2 India has been frozen at 01SEP04 since the start of the fiscal
year 9 months ago. But the July Visa Bulletin holds out some hope
- referring to "movement of this cutoff date" in August or September.
Any forward movement in India EB2 will come from employment visa
numbers unused by the rest of the world as India has already utilized
its allocated share of EB2 numbers. While the size of the
allocation is not yet known, it may be very large - perhaps in the 8,000
to 10,000 range.
The visa office is anticipating a very large movement - current
speculation is February, 2008.
Because of upgrades from EB3 to EB2, and because of previous
retrogression of visa availability, USCIS has "on the shelf" pending
I-485 applications for EB2 India with priority dates later than
September 1, 2004. Those will be the immediate beneficiaries of
any movement in the India EB2 cutoff date. If you have a pending
I-485, so long as you have kept your address current, no further action
should be required to benefit from EB2 cutoff date movement.
Those who do not have pending I-485s and who have approved EB2 India
priority dates earlier than June, 2008 would be well advised to be ready
to file I-485 applications as early as August 1st. Visa
availability will retrogress with the start of the new fiscal year on
October 1st, and possibly by September 1st if the August movement
creates enough demand.
Those who are processing abroad should be prepared to be called for
immigrant visa interviews in August or September if they have priority
dates in 2008 or earlier.
EB2 India "frozen" at 01Sep2004
Posted 11/8/2012 - Updated 4/10/2013
December 2012 Visa Bulletin was posted today. Most employment
based categories moved forward a bit - and worldwide EB2 remains
current. But EB2 for India remains at 9/1/2004 - the same date as
last month. The really bad news is contained in section D of the
bulletin which predicts future visa availability. Worldwide, EB2
is expected to remain current; China will move forward at five to eight
weeks per month, and India will show "no movement."
4/10/2013: With publication of the May Visa Bulletin today, EB2
India remains at 9/1/2004 - as it has for last six months. We
don't expect any movement before the fourth quarter of the year which
begins July 1st - and maybe not then. In the meantime, EB3 for
areas other than India and the Philippines has jumped to 12/1/2007 - a
five month leap. The visa office expects there may be
retrogression in this category later in the year.
My prediction is that the movement in EB3 is not enough to create the
expected demand, and there will be further movement forward in May or
June. EB2 for India will remain where it is.
EB2 Jumps forward with start of new fiscal year
With the start of the new fiscal year on October 1,
2012, EB2 opened up again for India and China – at least for those with
priority dates earlier than July 15, 2007 (China) or September 1, 2004
(India). For the rest of the
world, the EB2 date is January 1, 2012.
While this is a big improvement over the September visa bulletin
– a change from “unavailable” for India and China, and a jump of three
years for the rest of the world – it is discouraging compared to earlier
in the year when the world was “current” and
India and China had reached 2010!
Visa availability has been a rollercoaster.
All categories were current for all countries in July, 2007 – and
thousands who filed adjustment of status applications during that time
period were caught in the retrogression which immediately followed.
Thousands more were able to file in 2012 – and were again caught
in the visa number retrogression.
Those who have adjustment of status applications
“on the shelf” at USCIS offices (or are awaiting visa processing at
consulates abroad constitute a known backlog of demand.
In September, USCIS identified over 4,600 EB2 applicants with
pending applications who are eligible to have their adjustment of status
applications completed in October, with the advance of priority dates.
The State Department allocated that many EB2 visa numbers before
the end of September, for use in October!
India and China are each limited to 2,803 visa
numbers in the EB2 category.
However, additional EB2 numbers are made available – without regard to
country – if they are not used in the other employment categories.
(Theoretically, additional numbers could also drop down to EB3 –
but that won’t happen as all available “extra” numbers will be utilized
by the enormous EB2 demand).
We are expecting about 5,000 extra numbers to become available this year
for EB2 – with most going to India and the rest to China.
The “shelf” backlog of India EB2 cases totals
as last published – while China numbers
6,950. The extra
numbers are critical in moving the EB2 line for India and China – where
the wait would otherwise be measured in decades instead of years.
EB2 - The world waits and nothing for India/China
EB2 continues to remain "unavailable" for India and China with the
July Visa Bulletin. That is "old news" and will be the case for
the rest of the fiscal year. What is new is that the rest of the
world is now backlogged to January 1, 2009. The State
Department is anticipating that EB2 may become "U" ("unavailable") for
the entire world before the end of the fiscal year.
This news is temporary in that with the start of the new fiscal year,
EB2 will again become available for India and China. But the EB2
India and China date is likely to be backlogged to well before May 1,
2010 which it had reached in March, 2012.
The news for India and China EB2 will be particularly bad next year.
Both countries exhausted their allocated EB2 numbers very early in the
year, and benefitted from being allocated numbers from the rest of the
world. Those numbers can only be allocated in the expectation that
they will be otherwise unused. The current situation shows that
this was a miscalculation - and the State Department will be unlikely to
provide so many "extra" EB2 numbers to India and China next year.
The good news for EB2 India and China is over. In May 2011 EB2
India advanced to July 1, 2006 - the first movement in a year. As
of this month (and for next month) the visa bulletin shows EB2 India and
China at May 1, 2010!! But on or before April 6, 2012,
the May, 2012 Visa Bulletin will be published and this is what it will
EB2 India....... EB2 China...... 15AUG2007
That's right - India and China will retrogress almost three years.
And as of last week, the Visa Office has stopped
issuing visa numbers to USCIS for EB2 India and China for priority dates
later than August 15, 2007. If USCIS has already requested a visa
number for applicants with those priority dates, their adjustment of
status applicants can be completed. But if visa numbers have not
been requested, those applications cannot be completed - not
withstanding that the visa bulletin shows their priority dates are
current. Those with priority dates earlier than May 1, 2010 can
continue to file I-485 adjustment of status applications through the end
of April - but those applications may be pending for a very long time.
This information comes from Charles Oppenheim, the
Chief of the Immigrant Visa Control and Reporting Division of the Bureau
of Consular Affairs of the U.S. Department of State. He does not
expect any substantial movement in EB2 for India and China before the
end of the fiscal year (September 30, 2012).
Mr. Oppenheim has predicted that EB3 will continue to advance for all
countries. The worldwide cutoff (08Apr06) will advance 3 to 5
weeks. EB3 China (01Mar05) will advance up to six weeks, and EB3
India (01Sep02) will advance up to 2 weeks. EB1 will remain
current for all countries. Family categories will advance
generally from 3 to 5 weeks, except F2A which could move up to 2.5
EB2 moves forward for India/China
Employment based 2nd preference advances to January 1, 2009 - a huge
move forward for India and China. But this move almost guarantees
that this category will retrogress later this year.
In Section D
of the January Visa Bulletin, DOS explains that the rapid advancement is
meant to generate sufficient demand to utilize the annual EB2 limit.
An advance in the visa bulletin availability date produces I-485 filings
- but there is a lag of three to six months before visa numbers are
actually requested by USCIS. For this reason, advancing the cutoff
date late in the year does not result in utilization of visa numbers for
this fiscal year. Therefore, State is aggressive early in
the year in advancing cut off dates. As explained in the Visa
Bulletin for January: " While this action greatly
increases the potential for an eventual retrogression
of the cut-off at some point during the year, it also provides the best
opportunity to utilize all numbers available under the annual limit."
Priority dates which are current in January may not be current later
India & China EB2 advances to March 8, 2007
The July visa bulletin shows EB2 India and China advancing to March
8, 2007. Our earlier prediction that EB2 for India would not
pass 2006 is now clearly wrong. The "upgrade demand" may be less
than the State Department expected - or may not have cleared the
PERM/I-140 pipeline yet. The advance since October 2010 is now
exactly one year!
India and China will move in "lock step" for
EB2 through September 30, 2011.
EB3 for India is backed up to May
1, 2002 - which represents less than four months movement since
EB2 India to move forward - finally
EB2 India advances 7 weeks - first movement this year
The May Visa Bulletin shows an advance in India EB2 to July 1,
2006. There are no "regular" EB2 visa numbers left for
India - this cutoff date represents an allocation of the "otherwise
unused" numbers now available to India.
The State Department
advanced the India date "more rapidly than normal,
in an attempt to ascertain the amount of 'upgrade' demand in the
pipeline," and warns that this may result in a surge in demand
that will adversely affect future movement in India EB2.
are still predicting that by the end of the year (September 30,
2011), India and China EB2 will not have passed 2006.
New information from Visa Control & Reporting Division indicates
movement may be more than two weeks. India will receive most of
12,000+ add'l visa numbers during fiscal 2011. See our report
EB2 Story - India, China & the
"Otherwise Unused" Employment Visa Numbers.
May Visa Bulletin to show advance of one to two weeks - maybe
We have learned from the Chief of the Visa Control and Reporting
Division, U.S. Department of State, that India EB2 will finally move
forward in the month of May, 2011. The May Visa Bulletin will
likely be published at the beginning of next week, and should show some
advance - one or two weeks - possibly more.
As most are aware,
the EB2 India cutoff has been May 8, 2006 since September, 2010.
What many do not realize is that the annual limit for India EB2 (2,803)
has already been reached - even though the cutoff date has not moved
thus far during the entire fiscal year. The reason for the advance
is that overall employment demand for the
rest of the world will be less than the available supply of visas.
The "otherwise unused" visas in certain categories can be allocated to
oversubscribed countries (India and China) in the second preference,
without regard to the seven percent limitation.
12,000 extra EB2 numbers for India?
The Visa Control
Office is looking at EB1 demand this year - projecting that about 12,000
EB1 numbers will go unused and fall through to EB2. Those
"otherwise unused" numbers become available for EB2 without regard to
the section of law which limits each oversubscribed country to 7% of the
preference allocation. What this means is that the "extra" numbers
are issued in priority date order, without regard to country.
Of course, the oldest priority dates for noncurrent EB2 applicants
belong to applicants from India.
How many Indian applicants
will become eligible to file for adjustment of status if the EB2
priority date is advanced by two weeks? By one month?
The answer is currently unknown, but the Visa Control Office wants to
get a good feel for this before the end of the fiscal year so that all
the "otherwise unused" visa numbers can be used. As a
result, while the initial intent of the Visa Control Office was to
advance the EB2 India date by a week or two, it is now considering a
more substantial advance so that actual demand can be tested.
Visa Control and Reporting Division allocates the "extra" numbers in advance - assuming that
they will not be required during the remainder of the fiscal year.
India EB2 could reach November 2006 by fiscal year end
In August or
September, the Visa Control and Reporting Division will make an
additional allocation based on world wide employment demand. The
intent is to use all the "otherwise unused" and available visa numbers.
The best case scenario for India EB2 based on currently available data is Fall,
EB3 for India, China and world to continue slow
Worldwide EB3 movement may be in the
range three to six weeks per month. EB3 for India and China may
move forward at the rate of one or two weeks per month.
These dates are predictions - not promises.
Small movements in priority dates as published in the visa bulletin can
create huge demand. Some of that demand is predictable from data
currently available to the Department of State. Some of that
demand is unknown. The largest current variable for EB2 India
demand for priority dates after May 8, 2006 may be "upgrades" from EB3
to EB2. Beneficiaries who have obtained new labor certifications
and preference petitions in EB2 category keep their EB3 priority dates
in certain circumstances. We know this includes substantial
numbers in the Indian EB3 line who can move to EB2. The actual
number, and their priority dates is currently unknown to the Department
EB2 India - How long??
updated December, 2010
Bulletin for January, 2011 shows a processing date for EB2 India of
May 8, 2006. That date has not advanced since September,
2010. In the December Visa Bulletin, the State Department
predicted "Visa Availability in the Coming Months." For
the Employment Second category, the prediction is "India: no
The numbers tell the story:
Only 140,000 visas (or adjustment of status applications) for
employment based applicants can be granted in each year.
Subject to some adjustment for numbers flowing between categories,
only 40,040 visas can be issued for EB2. When an immigrant enters the U.S. as an
EB2, with a spouse and two
children, four visa numbers are used - not one. The average
employment based immigrant family will use between two and three visa
numbers. That means less than 70,000 families will enter the U.S.
each year as employment based applicants - and fewer than 20,000
families based with EB2 preference category.
And it gets worse.
Each country is limited to no more than seven percent of the total of
visas available, and if it appears that a country will use its full
seven percent, then limits also apply within preference
categories. That doesn't matter for most countries, but is
critical for those from India or China with EB2 classification.
This year, only 2,803 EB2 visa numbers can be allocated for India.
How long is the line?
Data used by the State Department to determine the cut off dates
used in the Visa Bulletin tell part of the story. Here is what was
used for the January, 2010 Indian EB2 determination:
|Cumulative Demand prior to:
|| Entire World
as of 12/8/2010)
|January 1, 2006
|January 1, 2007
|January 1, 2008
|January 1, 2010
At the rate of 3,000 visa numbers a year allocated to India EB2, and
with a cumulative demand of 13,125 with priority dates earlier than
1/1/2007, it will take more than four years from now before all those
with 2006 priority dates become current!!
Seven percent plus.... a bit of relief
While India and China are each limited to seven percent (2,803) EB2
visa numbers, if worldwide demand is insufficient to use all
available numbers in a particular Employment preference category, then
the otherwise unused numbers may be made available without regard to the
annual per-country limits. Last year, this meant that additional
EB2 visa numbers were made available to India
and China. Instead of 2,803 EB2 numbers, India was able to use
19,961. If this keeps up, the four year backlog for those with
2006 priority dates may be much less. The additional EB2 numbers
for India are the result of a lack of demand worldwide. In years
when the economy has been strong, there has been no such drop down.
And this fiscal year, as there are 10,657 fewer total employment based
visa numbers available world wide, it is likely that there will be far
fewer unused numbers available to India and China.
But not so fast ...
Notice that "Cumulative Demand" only increases by about
9,000 from 1/1/2007 to 1/1/2008. And notice it only increases by
100 for the two years 2008-2009. Is it possible that only 100
Indians have EB2 priority dates between January 1, 2008 and
December 31, 2009? The clear answer is "no."
"Cumulative Demand" includes only those cases which are
either at U.S. consuls ready to process immigrant visas or which are
sitting on the USCIS Service Center shelf attached to pending I-485
petitions. Recall that in July, 2007 all employment based
preference categories became current, and thousands of applications were
filed. In August, 2007, visa availability retrogressed - and those
I-485 filings are still sitting on Service Center
shelves. In the meantime, thousands of labor
certifications have been approved, and thousands of preference petitions
have been approved. Some of those labor certifications were filed
earlier than July, 2007. In fact, the Department of Labor
completed a backlog elimination project in late 2007 adding about 70,000
labor certifications to the line.
Applicants who did not file I-485s by August 14, 2007 are not
included within Cumulative Demand. Applicants whose preference
petitions were approved after July 31, 2007 are not included within Cumulative
Demand. Applicants whose pending adjustment of status applications
have been transferred from Service Centers to District Offices are not
included within Cumulative Demand. Applicants who are
included in the EB3 Cumulative Demand who have upgraded to EB2 through
the filing of a second PERM application are not included in Cumulative
Cumulative Demand is the visible tip of the EB2 Indian visa
So how long is the EB2 wait for Indians?
Predicting future visa arability is a guessing game - and predictions
are often wrong. However, based on experience and known data, I
believe the following are realistic minimums:
2006 priority dates range from current to a four year wait.
2007 priority dates range from four years to an seven year wait
2008 priority dates more than seven years.
2009 priority dates more than eleven years.
2010 priority dates - beyond prediction
Is it really this bad?
If nothing changes, I believe the above predictions are
realistic. However, I anticipate that there will be change.
Even without comprehensive immigration reform, there are those in
Congress who recognize who absurd this situation is. Minor changes
in the law can reduce or eliminate the EB2 (and the EB3)
backlog. These include not counting family members against
the quota, and recapturing visa numbers wasted from prior years.
A major change in the law can result in those in the existing
employment lines being grandfathered into a shorter
wait. If the economy does not improve and the
demand for employment visas remains low, extra EB2 numbers will be
available for India.
Several bills have already been introduced that include these types
of provisions, and I do expect some kind of change for the better long
before an Indian with a 2010 EB2 priority date would reach the end of
the line in the normal course.