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Department of State Releases December 2012 Visa Bulletin

EB-2 category for all chargeable areas remains current.

The U.S. Department of State (DOS) has released its December 2012 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 December 2012 Visa Bulletin Say?

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

EB-2: Foreign nationals in the EB-2 category from all countries other than China and India remain current. A cutoff date of October 22, 2007, reflecting forward movement, has been imposed for foreign nationals in the EB-2 category from China; a cutoff date of September 1, 2004, remains in effect for foreign nationals in the EB-2 category from India.

EB-3: There is continued backlog in the EB-3 category for all countries.

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

China: July 1, 2006 (forward movement of 77 days)
India: November 1, 2002 (forward movement of 10 days)
Mexico: December 22, 2006 (forward movement of 30 days)
Philippines: August 15, 2006 (forward movement of 7 days)
Rest of the World: December 22, 2006 (forward movement of 30 days)

Developments Affecting the EB-2 Employment-Based Category

Mexico, the Philippines, and the Rest of the World

In July, the DOS imposed a cutoff date for individuals who qualify for the EB-2 category and are chargeable to a country other than China or India (Mexico, the Philippines, and the Rest of the World). In October, the DOS moved this cutoff date forward to January 1, 2012, and, in November, the DOS completely removed cutoff dates for individuals who qualify for the EB-2 category and are chargeable to a country other than China or India. This meant that, as of November 1, 2012, the EB-2 category once again became "current" for individuals chargeable to these other countries. The December Visa Bulletin indicates that the EB-2 category will remain "current" for individuals who qualify for the EB-2 category and are chargeable to a country other than China or India through the month of December. The DOS predicts that this group should remain "current" in the coming months.

China

The December Visa Bulletin indicates a cutoff date of October 22, 2007, for EB-2 individuals chargeable to China. This means that EB-2 individuals chargeable to China with a priority date prior to this date may file an AOS application or have the application approved on or after December 1 of this year. The DOS predicts that this cutoff date will move forward five to eight weeks in the coming months.

India

The December Visa Bulletin indicates that the cutoff date for EB-2 individuals chargeable to India will remain at September 1, 2004. This means that EB-2 individuals chargeable to India with a priority date prior to this date may file an AOS application or have the application approved on or after December 1 of this year. The DOS predicts no movement of this cutoff date in the coming months.

Developments Affecting the EB-3 Employment-Based Category

The December Visa Bulletin indicates a cutoff date of July 1, 2006, for EB-3 individuals chargeable to China. The DOS predicts forward movement of one to two months in the coming months.

Additionally, the December Visa Bulletin indicates a cutoff date of November 1, 2002, for EB-3 individuals chargeable to India. The DOS predicts forward movement of up to two weeks in the coming months.

The December Visa Bulletin also indicates a cutoff date of December 22, 2006, for EB-3 individuals chargeable to the Rest of the World. The DOS predicts forward movement of three to five weeks in the coming months.

Developments Affecting the EB-5 Employment-Based Category

The DOS predicts that a cutoff date will be established for the EB-5 employment-based category for individuals chargeable to China during the second half of fiscal year 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 December 2012 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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