The Chief of Immigrant Visa Control & Reporting for the
United States Department of State has indicated that the May Visa
Bulletin will retrogress. Specifically, the priority date cutoff
for the EB-2 immigrant visa category for mainland-China born and
Indian nationals will return to August 15, 2007. This category is
reserved for members of the professions holding advanced degrees or
persons of exceptional ability. The almost 3-year retrogression is
occurring after the quota jumped forward dramatically, over the
last several months. All of this movement is an attempt by the
State Department to calibrate the flow of applications, so that the
quota for this fiscal year is fully utilized. It is too early to
predict movement for the remainder of the fiscal year, which ends
on September 30, 2012.
Any cases with a priority date that is current in the April 2012
Visa Bulletin can still file their I-485 Applications until May 1,
and, if already pending at USCIS, can continue to be approved.
However, any Indian and Chinese EB-2 cases pending on May 1, with a
priority date after August 15, 2007, cannot be adjudicated until
the priority date becomes current again.
During this period of retrogression, pending I-485 cases will be
processed up to the point of adjudication, so that they will be
ready in October or earlier, if they are needed at the end of this
fiscal year to assure utilization of the full employment-based
permanent resident visa allocation.
What Is the Significance of These Quota Retrogressions
and Quota Backlogs?
Only a limited number of immigrant visa numbers are available to
qualified individuals for permanent residence (the so-called
"green card") in each of the family-based and
employment-based categories. The Immigration and Nationality Act
sets an annual minimum family-sponsored preference limit of
226,000. The worldwide level for annual employment-based preference
immigrants is at least 140,000. In addition, there is a per-country
limit for the preference categories set at 7% of the total annual
family-sponsored and employment-based preference limits, totaling
The State Department publishes a visa bulletin on a monthly
basis, which announces what the cutoff dates are for each of the
preference categories. (The visa bulletin can be accessed at the
Department of State Web site http://travel.state.gov and instructions are
provided at the end of the bulletin to obtain an email subscription
of the visa bulletin.)
What Is The Significance of the Cutoff
Even if an application for labor certification is approved and
an I-140 petition is filed and/or approved, an applicant for a
green card cannot file the final application (Form I-485) unless
the quota is current for his/her priority date. One's priority
date is established by the date that the first application leading
to permanent residence has been filed with the proper authority
(either the application for labor certification, or in cases where
labor certifications are not required, the petition with the United
States Citizenship & Immigration Services).
In our continuing series of reports, Charles ("Charlie") Oppenheim, Chief of the Visa Control and Reporting Division, U.S. Department of State, shares his most recent analysis of current trends and future projections for the various immigrant preference categories with AILA (the American Immigration Lawyers' Association).