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Department of State Releases August 2013 Visa Bulletin

EB-2 category for individuals chargeable to India advances by more than three years.

The U.S. Department of State (DOS) has released its August 2013 Visa Bulletin. The Visa Bulletin sets out per country priority date cutoffs that regulate the flow of adjustment of status (AOS) and consular immigrant visa applications. Foreign nationals may file applications to adjust their status to that of permanent resident or to obtain approval of an immigrant visa at a U.S. embassy or consulate abroad, provided that their priority dates are prior to the respective cutoff dates specified by the DOS.

What Does the August 2013 Visa Bulletin Say?

The cutoff date in the EB-2 category for individuals chargeable to India has advanced by three years and four months in an effort to fully utilize the numbers available under the annual limit. It is expected that such movement will generate a significant amount of demand from individuals chargeable to India during the coming months.

EB-1: All EB-1 categories remain current.

EB-2: A cutoff date of January 1, 2008 is now in effect for individuals in the EB-2 category from India, reflecting forward movement of three years and four months. A cutoff date of August 8, 2008 remains in effect from the July Visa Bulletin for individuals in the EB-2 category from China. The cutoff date remains current for individuals in the EB-2 category from all other countries.

EB-3: There is continued backlog in the EB-3 category for all countries, with minor forward movement for EB-3 individuals from the Philippines and no forward movement for EB-3 individuals from the rest of the world.

The relevant priority date cutoffs for foreign nationals in the EB-3 category are as follows:

China: January 1, 2009 (no forward movement) 
India: January 22, 2003 (no forward movement) 
Mexico: January 1, 2009 (no forward movement) 
Philippines: October 22, 2006 (forward movement of 21 days) 
Rest of the World: January 1, 2009 (no forward movement)

Developments Affecting the EB-2 Employment-Based Category

Mexico, the Philippines, and the Rest of the World

In November 2012, the EB-2 category for individuals chargeable to all countries other than China and India became current. This meant that EB-2 individuals chargeable to countries other than China and India could file AOS applications or have applications approved on or afterNovember 1, 2012. The August Visa Bulletin indicates that the EB-2 category will continue to remain current for these individuals through August 2013.

China

As with the July Visa Bulletin, the August Visa Bulletin indicates a cutoff date of August 8, 2008 for EB-2 individuals chargeable to China. This means that EB-2 individuals chargeable to China with a priority date prior to August 8, 2008 may continue to file AOS applications or have applications approved through August 2013.

India

From October 2012 through the present, the cutoff date for EB-2 individuals chargeable to India has been September 1, 2004. The August Visa Bulletin indicates forward movement of this cutoff date by more than three years to January 1, 2008. This means that EB-2 individuals chargeable to India with a priority date prior to January 1, 2008 may file AOS applications or have applications approved in August 2013. The August Visa Bulletin indicates that this cutoff date has been advanced in an effort to fully utilize the numbers available under the EB-2 annual limit. It is expected that such movement will generate a significant amount of demand from individuals chargeable to India during the coming months.

This significant advancement in the cutoff date for EB-2 individuals chargeable to India will quite possibly be followed by significant retrogression in the new fiscal year. Consequently, AOS applications filed in September 2013 may be received and receipted by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services; however, adjudication could be delayed. Applications for interim benefits, including employment authorization and advance parole, should be adjudicated in a timely manner notwithstanding any possible retrogression of cutoff dates.

Developments Affecting the EB-3 Employment-Based Category

In May, June, and July, the cutoff dates for EB-3 individuals chargeable to most countries advanced significantly in an attempt to generate demand and fully utilize the annual numerical limits for the category. The August Visa Bulletin indicates no additional forward movement in this category, with the exception of the Philippines, which advanced by 21 days.

China

The July Visa Bulletin indicated a cutoff date of January 1, 2009 for EB-3 individuals chargeable to China. The August Visa Bulletin indicates no movement of this cutoff date. This means that EB-3 individuals chargeable to China with a priority date prior to January 1, 2009 may file AOS applications or have applications approved through August 2013.

India

Additionally, the July Visa Bulletin indicated a cutoff date of January 22, 2003 for EB-3 individuals chargeable to India. The August Visa Bulletin indicates no movement of this cutoff date. This means that EB-3 individuals chargeable to India with a priority date prior to January 22, 2003 may file AOS applications or have applications approved through August 2013.

Rest of the World

The July Visa Bulletin indicated a cutoff date of January 1, 2009 for EB-3 individuals chargeable to the Rest of the World. The August Visa Bulletin indicates no movement of this cutoff date. This means that individuals chargeable to all countries other than China, India, Mexico, and the Philippines with a priority date prior to January 1, 2009 may file AOS applications or have applications approved through August 2013.

How This Affects You

Priority date cutoffs are assessed on a monthly basis by the DOS, based on anticipated demand. Cutoff dates can move forward or backward or remain static. Employers and employees should take the immigrant visa backlogs into account in their long-term planning and take measures to mitigate their effects. To see the August 2013 Visa Bulletin in its entirety, please visit the DOS website here.

Copyright © 2014 by Morgan, Lewis & Bockius LLP. All Rights Reserved.

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