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Department of State Releases October 2013 Visa Bulletin

There is no significant movement in cutoff dates in the employment-based categories; spouses and children of permanent resident family-based sponsors no longer remain current.

The U.S. Department of State (DOS) has released its October 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 October 2013 Visa Bulletin Say?

In August, the cutoff date in the EB-2 category for individuals chargeable to India advanced by three years and four months in an effort to fully utilize the numbers available under the annual limit. As a result of a decrease in the use of EB-1 numbers and in the use of EB-2 numbers from most other countries, the cutoff date in this category advanced in September by an additional five-and-a-half months, a greater advancement than was anticipated. The October Visa Bulletin indicates no movement of this cutoff date.

Cutoff dates in the EB-3 category for individuals from most countries advanced significantly between April and July in an effort to generate demand. It was anticipated that such movement would result in a dramatic increase in demand within this category within a few months; however, no such increase has materialized. As a result, there were significant advancements in these cutoff dates in the month of September. It was further anticipated that the cutoff dates in the EB-3 category would retrogress as of the start of the new fiscal year on October 1, 2013. However, other than a slight advancement for individuals born in the Philippines, the October Visa Bulletin indicates no movement in the EB-3 category.

The family-based F2A category for spouses and children of permanent residents is no longer current. The October Visa Bulletin imposes a cutoff date of September 1, 2013 in this category for individuals from Mexico and a cutoff date of September 8, 2013 for individuals from all other countries.

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

EB-2: A cutoff date of June 15, 2008 for individuals in the EB-2 category chargeable to India remains in effect. A cutoff date of September 15, 2008 is now in effect for individuals in the EB-2 category chargeable to China, reflecting forward movement of 38 days. The cutoff date for individuals in the EB-2 category chargeable to all other countries remains current.

EB-3: The cutoff date for individuals in the EB-3 category chargeable to the Philippines has advanced by two weeks. There is otherwise no movement in cutoff dates in the EB-3 category.

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

China: July 1, 2010 (no movement) 
India: September 22, 2003 (no movement) 
Mexico: July 1, 2010 (no movement) 
Philippines: December 15, 2006 (forward movement of 14 days) 
Rest of the World: July 1, 2010 (no 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 after November 1, 2012. The October Visa Bulletin indicates that the EB-2 category will continue to remain current for these individuals through October 2013.

China

The October Visa Bulletin indicates a cutoff date of September 15, 2008for EB-2 individuals chargeable to China, reflecting forward movement of 38 days. This means that EB-2 individuals chargeable to China with a priority date prior to September 15, 2008 may file AOS applications or have applications approved through October 2013.

India

In August, after 10 months of stagnation, the cutoff date for EB-2 individuals chargeable to India advanced by more than three years to January 1, 2008. In September, the cutoff date in this category advanced by an additional five-and-a-half months to June 15, 2008. The October Visa Bulletin indicates no additional movement in this category. This means that EB-2 individuals chargeable to India with a priority date prior to June 15, 2008 may continue to file AOS applications or have applications approved through October 2013.

Developments Affecting the EB-3 Employment-Based Category

Between April 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. In September, these cutoff dates again advanced significantly. The October Visa Bulletin indicates no additional movement in this category, with the exception of the cutoff date for EB-3 individuals chargeable to the Philippines, which has advanced by two weeks. 

China

The September Visa Bulletin indicated forward movement of the cutoff date for EB-3 individuals chargeable to China by 547 days to July 1, 2010. The October Visa Bulletin indicates no additional movement in this category. This means that EB-3 individuals chargeable to China with a priority date prior to July 1, 2010 may continue to file AOS applications or have applications approved through October 2013.

India

The September Visa Bulletin indicated forward movement of the cutoff date for EB-3 individuals chargeable to India by 243 days to September 22, 2003. The October Visa Bulletin indicates no additional movement in this category. This means that EB-3 individuals chargeable to India with a priority date prior to September 22, 2003 may continue to file AOS applications or have applications approved through October 2013.

Rest of the World

The September Visa Bulletin indicated forward movement of the cutoff date for EB-3 individuals chargeable to the Rest of the World by 547 days to July 1, 2010. The October Visa Bulletin indicates no additional movement in this category. This means that individuals chargeable to all countries other than China, India, Mexico, and the Philippines with a priority date prior to July 1, 2010 may continue to file AOS applications or have applications approved through October 2013.

Developments Affecting the F2A Family-Sponsored Category

In August and September, F2A spouses and children of permanent residents from all countries were current. The October Visa Bulletin imposes a cutoff date of September 1, 2013 in the F2A category for individuals from Mexico and a cutoff date of September 8, 2013 in the F2A category for individuals from all other countries. This means that AOS applicants with a priority date that falls on or after the applicable September cutoff date will be unable to file AOS applications or have applications approved in October. AOS applicants in the F2A category who are now current should therefore aim to file by the end of September.

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 October 2013 Visa Bulletin in its entirety, please visit the DOS website

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

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