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August 28, 2014

Department of State Releases March 2014 Visa Bulletin

Bulletin shows minor to moderate advancement of cutoff dates in all EB-2 and EB-3 categories, with the exception of EB-2 India, which will remain unchanged.

The U.S. Department of State (DOS) has released its March 2014 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 statuses to that of permanent residents or to obtain approval of immigrant visas 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 March 2014 Visa Bulletin Say?

At the end of fiscal year 2013, there were considerable advancements in cutoff dates in the EB-2 and EB-3 India categories. In order to regulate the large increase in demand that followed, these cutoff dates retrogressed significantly in December. In January and February, there was no movement in the EB-2 or EB-3 India categories; meanwhile, the EB-3 China category continued to move ahead of the EB-2 China category. The March Visa Bulletin indicates no movement of the EB-2 India category, minor forward movement of the EB-3 India category, and continued advancement of the EB-3 China category ahead of the EB-2 China category.

As a result of continued heavy demand, a cutoff date for individuals in the family-based F2A category from Mexico will retrogress to April 15, 2012, while a cutoff date of September 8, 2013 will remain in effect for individuals in the F2A category from all other countries.

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

EB-2: The cutoff date of November 15, 2004 for individuals in the EB-2 category chargeable to India will remain unchanged from the February Visa Bulletin. The cutoff date for individuals in the EB-2 category chargeable to China will advance by 38 days to February 15, 2009. The EB-2 category for all other countries will remain current.

EB-3: The cutoff date for individuals in the EB-3 category chargeable to India will advance by 14 days to September 15, 2003. The cutoff date for individuals in the EB-3 category chargeable to China will advance by 92 days to September 1, 2012. The cutoff date for individuals in the EB-3 category chargeable to the Philippines will advance by 16 days to May 1, 2007. The cutoff date for individuals chargeable to Mexico and the Rest of the World will advance by 92 days to September 1, 2012.

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

China: September 1, 2012 (forward movement of 92 days)
India: September 15, 2003 (forward movement of 14 days)
Mexico: September 1, 2012 (forward movement of 92 days)

Philippines: May 1, 2007 (forward movement of 16 days)
Rest of the World: September 1, 2012 (forward movement of 92 days)

Developments Affecting the EB-2 Employment-Based Category

Mexico, the Philippines, and the Rest of the World

The EB-2 category for individuals chargeable to all countries other than China and India has been current since November 2012. The March Visa Bulletin indicates no change to these categories. This means that EB-2 individuals chargeable to all countries other than China and India may continue to file AOS applications or have applications approved through March 2014.

China

The February Visa Bulletin indicated a cutoff date of January 8, 2009 for EB-2 individuals chargeable to China. The March Visa Bulletin indicates a cutoff date of February 15, 2009, reflecting forward movement of 38 days. This means that EB-2 individuals chargeable to China with a priority date prior to February 15, 2009 may file AOS applications or have applications approved in March 2014.

India

In December 2013, the cutoff date for EB-2 individuals chargeable to India retrogressed by 3.5 years to November 15, 2004 due to unprecedented demand for EB-2 visa numbers from applicants in this category. This cutoff date remained unchanged in January and February, and the March Visa Bulletin again indicates no change. This means that only EB-2 individuals chargeable to India with a priority date prior to November 15, 2004 may file AOS applications or have applications approved in March 2014.

Developments Affecting the EB-3 Employment-Based Category

China

From September through December 2013, the cutoff date for EB-3 individuals chargeable to China advanced by 2.75 years. From January through February, this cutoff date advanced by an additional 244 days to June 1, 2012. The March Visa Bulletin indicates a cutoff date of September 1, 2012, reflecting additional forward movement of 92 days. This means that EB-3 individuals chargeable to China with a priority date prior to September 1, 2012 may file AOS applications or have applications approved in March 2014.

India

In January and February, the cutoff date for EB-3 individuals chargeable to India was September 1, 2003. The March Visa Bulletin indicates forward movement of this cutoff date by 14 days to September 15, 2003. This means that EB-3 individuals chargeable to India with a priority date prior to September 15, 2003 may file AOS applications or have applications approved in March 2014.

Rest of the World

From September through December 2013, the cutoff date for EB-3 individuals chargeable to the Rest of the World advanced by 2.75 years. From January through February, this cutoff date advanced by an additional 244 days to June 1, 2012. The March Visa Bulletin indicates a cutoff date of September 1, 2012, reflecting additional forward movement of 92 days. This means that EB-3 individuals chargeable to the Rest of the World with a priority date prior to September 1, 2012 may file AOS applications or have applications approved in March 2014.

Developments Affecting the F2A Family-Sponsored Category

Beginning in October 2013, a cutoff date of September 1, 2013 was imposed for F2A spouses and children of permanent residents from Mexico, and a cutoff date of September 8, 2013 was imposed for F2A spouses and children of permanent residents from all other countries. As a result of heavy demand in the F2A Mexico category, the March Visa Bulletin indicates retrogression of the cutoff date for F2A applicants born in Mexico by 504 days to April 15, 2012. The March Visa Bulletin indicates no movement of the cutoff date for F2A applicants from all other countries. This means that only those applicants from Mexico with a priority date prior to April 15, 2012 will be able to file AOS applications or have applications approved in March 2014. Applicants from the Rest of the World with a priority date prior to September 8, 2013 may continue to file AOS applications or have applications approved through March 2014.

Visa Availability in the Coming Months

The March Visa Bulletin projects the following potential changes in the coming months:

  • The EB-1 category is expected to remain current.

  • The cutoff date for the EB-2 China category is expected to advance by three to five weeks per month.

  • The cutoff date for the EB-2 India category is expected to remain stagnant.

  • The cutoff date for the EB-2 worldwide category is expected to remain current.

  • The cutoff date for the EB-3 China category is expected to remain at the worldwide date.

  • The cutoff date for the EB-3 India category is expected to advance little, if at all.

  • The cutoff date for the EB-3 Mexico category is expected to remain at the worldwide date.

  • No forward movement is expected to the cutoff date for individuals in the F2A category.

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 March 2014 Visa Bulletin in its entirety, please visit the DOS website.

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

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