Predictions for Visa Availability

Posted 5/18/2015

These are the latest predictions from the Chief of the Visa Control and Reporting Division for the U.S. Department of State concerning probable movement of priority dates in the coming months:

EB1 will remain Current.
EB2 will remain Current for the world, except:
     China - will move forward, possibly become Current at some point
     India - future movement is uncertain; best case will reach Summer of 2009
EB3 - Worldwide should remain "near current" - within 3 or 4 months of "current"
     China - may reach early Spring, 2012
     India - should advance one to two weeks per month
     Philippines - expected to retrogress
EB4 - possible retrogression for some countries - otherwise current
EB5 - Current for all except China.
     China - by September, may reach November 2013, best case

Family - continue backlogs, with forward movement each month:
     F1 - 2 to 3 weeks
     F2A - 3 to 5 weeks
     F2B - limited 4 weeks
     F3 - up to 2 weeks
     F4 - 3 to 6 weeks

While these predictions come from the individual who actually sets the priority dates each month, they are not guaranteed.  Expectations of movement in visa availability is based on current and expected demand for visas.  Actual demand may not be the same as expected demand and may result in very different cutoff dates than those predicted.


Visa Bulletin - movement expected

EB 3 Worldwide is virtually current
EB2 China to move three to five weeks per month
EB2 India expected to move to June or July 2008 in May, then late 2009 by August
EB3 India will move one to two weeks per month

Posted 4/7/2015

EB3 for the "world" (i.e., not India or China) is October, 2014 this month.  We expect it to move to December, 2014 when the May Visa Bulletin is published later this week.  Almost all EB3 I-485 petitions and immigrant visa applications are based on approved Labor Certifications.  It is taking the Department of Labor four to six months to approve a Labor Certification - and the priority date relates back to the date of filing.   Labor certifications which are approved on or before May 2015 are very likely to have priority dates which are current.

The Chief of the Immigrant Visa Control Division is predicting that EB2 for China will move three to five weeks per months for the next several months.  EB2 India is expected to move to June or July 2008 when the May Visa Bulletin is published, and should reach late 2009 by the time the August Visa Bulletin is published.   India EB3 will advance one or two weeks per month. 

These predictions are always subject to change as demand for visas changes in unexpected ways.


December Visa Bulletin -

India EB2 stuck at 15 Feb 2005  but good news later this year.

Posted 11/12/2014

As predicted, EB2 India retrogressed substantially in November.  Little changes with the December Visa Bulletin.  Worldwide, EB2 remains current, and EB3 advances seven months to June 1, 2012.  EB2 China moves forward a bit less than a month to January 1, 2010, while EB2 India remains at February 15, 2005.   EB3 China is still ahead of EB2 China, but we expect "downgrades" to balance that situation within a few months.  EB3 China didn't move this month.  EB3 India advanced a week to December 1, 2003.

We do not expect India EB2 to move significantly until near the end of the fiscal year - next August or September.  At that time, predictions are for India EB2 to jump almost five years to at least late 2009, and possibly early 2010. 

Good news with September Visa Bulletin

Another big jump for India EB2 - China "stuck"

Posted 8/12/2014

EB2 India has advanced to May 1, 2009 - and EB2 China remains at October 8, 2009.  Worldwide, EB2 otherwise remains "current."   Worldwide EB3 is April 1, 2011,  China and India remain at their August dates:  November 1, 2008 and India an November 8, 2003. 

Both India and China have used their EB2 allocations for this fiscal year.   However,  there are additional visa numbers available which are "otherwise unused" by the rest of the world.  These "extra" numbers are allocated in strict priority date order.  As a result, they will go first to India as India EB2 is backed up further than China EB2.   If India ever catches up to China, additional numbers will then be available for both countries.

Our prediction that retrogression in EB2 for India would occur  October 1st with the start of the new fiscal year is evidently premature.  The State Department is now predicting retrogression may not occur until November.  In any event, we highly recommend filing adjustment of status applications in the first month in which a priority date is reached - unless there is good reason to wait.

India EB2 & China EB3 move forward

Good news continues, but may not last

Posted 7/9/2014

India EB2 has advanced again - this time to January 22, 2009.  China EB3 has moved forward to November 1, 2008.  These advances are occurring at the end of the fiscal year as the State Department accounts for availability due to expected unused numbers in worldwide limits.

This happens only at the end of the fiscal year, and the State Department warns that : "Heavy demand by applicants with priority dates significantly earlier than the established cut-off date is expected to materialize within the next several months, at which time the cut-off date is likely to retrogress significantly."

Retrogression will almost certainly occur with the start of the new fiscal year on October 1st.  Those now able to file I-485 applications should not expect their applications to be adjudicated before retrogression.  Those who have pending applications with priority dates now current may hope to be processed before retrogression - but once the visa number limits are reached, processing will again be suspended.

India EB2 - September 2008

After more than six months going nowhere, India EB2 has jumped to September 1, 2008.  Expect retrogression in the Fall

Posted 6/10/2014

Each year, many categories of unused employment based visa numbers are made available to EB2 applicants without regard to per country limitations.  India reached its "per country" EB2 limit early this year - which is why the priority date has not moved since December, 2013.  Now, with the end of the fiscal year approaching, unused visa numbers are being made available in EB2 to those with the oldest priority dates - virtually all from India. 

Those "extra" numbers are likely to be used quickly, and will not remain available after the end of the fiscal year.  Those who are eligible to file adjustment of status applications in July based on the jump in India EB2 should do so - but should not expect to have their applications completed before retrogression.  Those with pending I-485 applications should be certain USCIS has current contact information and should immediately respond to any request for evidence. 


India Frozen - EB2 and EB3

No good news for India or China in new Visa Bulletin -
Worldwide EB3 not progressing

Posted 2/18/2014

The March Visa Bulletin shows EB2 India at November 15, 2004.  There has been no forward movement since December, when EB2 India  retrogressed more than four years.  More discouraging, the Visa Bulletin predicts "No Forward Movement" in "the coming months."  EB3 India is backlogged to September 15, 2003, with very little movement expected.  China EB2 is February 15, 2009 and is expected to progress three to five weeks in the coming months.   "Extra" EB2 numbers available at year end allocated from unused numbers from other categories will primarily go to India until India EB2 catches up to China EB2.  Worldwide EB2 is expected to remain current.  Worldwide EB3, currently at September 1, 2012 (China is the same) is not expected to progress much further in coming months.

EB2 India jumps again in September - 6/15/2008
EB3 Worldwide to July 1, 2010 - 18 months

Posted 8/13/2013

EB2 for India has jumped again in September to June 15, 2008 from January 1, 2008 in August.  This is huge leap at the end of the fiscal year, particularly considering that EB2 India has been "stuck" at September 1, 2004 for the first ten months of the fiscal year.

China EB2 remains at August 8, 2008. 

The State Department visa office has indicated that demand for older numbers from USCIS has "bottomed out" resulting in the current movement.  India has already used up its allocated EB2 visa numbers this year.   The movement is due to "left over" numbers which drop down to EB2 from EB1.  Those numbers are allocated in strict priority date order, with no "per country" limitation.  Once EB2 applicants from India with priority dates earlier than August 8, 2008 are accommodated, future allocations will benefit China.

WARNING:  Count on India EB2 to retrogress again on October 1st with the start of the new fiscal year!


EB2 India to "thaw" - multi year jump coming?

Posted 6/12/2013

EB2 India has been frozen at 01SEP04 since the start of the fiscal year 9 months ago.  But the July Visa Bulletin holds out some hope - referring to "movement of this cutoff date" in August or September.

Any forward movement in India EB2 will come from employment visa numbers unused by the rest of the world as India has already utilized its allocated share of EB2 numbers.  While the size of the allocation is not yet known, it may be very large - perhaps in the 8,000 to 10,000 range.

The visa office is anticipating a very large movement - current speculation is February, 2008. 

Because of upgrades from EB3 to EB2, and because of previous retrogression of visa availability, USCIS has "on the shelf" pending I-485 applications for EB2 India with priority dates later than September 1, 2004.  Those will be the immediate beneficiaries of any movement in the India EB2 cutoff date.  If you have a pending I-485, so long as you have kept your address current, no further action should be required to benefit from EB2 cutoff date movement.

Those who do not have pending I-485s and who have approved EB2 India  priority dates earlier than June, 2008 would be well advised to be ready to file I-485 applications as early as August 1st.  Visa availability will retrogress with the start of the new fiscal year on October 1st, and possibly by September 1st if the August movement creates enough demand.

Those who are processing abroad should be prepared to be called for immigrant visa interviews in August or September if they have priority dates in 2008 or earlier.

EB2 India "frozen" at 01Sep2004

Posted 11/8/2012 - Updated 4/10/2013

The December 2012 Visa Bulletin was posted today.  Most employment based categories moved forward a bit - and worldwide EB2 remains current.  But EB2 for India remains at 9/1/2004 - the same date as last month.  The really bad news is contained in section D of the bulletin which predicts future visa availability.  Worldwide, EB2 is expected to remain current; China will move forward at five to eight weeks per month, and India will show "no movement."

4/10/2013:  With publication of the May Visa Bulletin today, EB2 India remains at 9/1/2004 - as it has for last six months.  We don't expect any movement before the fourth quarter of the year which begins July 1st - and maybe not then.  In the meantime, EB3 for areas other than India and the Philippines has jumped to 12/1/2007 - a five month leap.  The visa office expects there may be retrogression in this category later in the year. 

My prediction is that the movement in EB3 is not enough to create the expected demand, and there will be further movement forward in May or June.  EB2 for India will remain where it is. 

EB2 Jumps forward with start of new fiscal year

Posted 10/2/2012

With the start of the new fiscal year on October 1, 2012, EB2 opened up again for India and China – at least for those with priority dates earlier than July 15, 2007 (China) or September 1, 2004 (India).  For the rest of the world, the EB2 date is January 1, 2012.   While this is a big improvement over the September visa bulletin – a change from “unavailable” for India and China, and a jump of three years for the rest of the world – it is discouraging compared to earlier in the year when the world was “current” and India and China had reached 2010!

Visa availability has been a rollercoaster.   All categories were current for all countries in July, 2007 – and thousands who filed adjustment of status applications during that time period were caught in the retrogression which immediately followed.  Thousands more were able to file in 2012 – and were again caught in the visa number retrogression.    

Those who have adjustment of status applications “on the shelf” at USCIS offices (or are awaiting visa processing at consulates abroad constitute a known backlog of demand.  In September, USCIS identified over 4,600 EB2 applicants with pending applications who are eligible to have their adjustment of status applications completed in October, with the advance of priority dates.  The State Department allocated that many EB2 visa numbers before the end of September, for use in October! 

India and China are each limited to 2,803 visa numbers in the EB2 category.  However, additional EB2 numbers are made available – without regard to country – if they are not used in the other employment categories.  (Theoretically, additional numbers could also drop down to EB3 – but that won’t happen as all available “extra” numbers will be utilized by the enormous EB2 demand).  We are expecting about 5,000 extra numbers to become available this year for EB2 – with most going to India and the rest to China. 

The “shelf” backlog of India EB2 cases totals 34,000 as last published – while China numbers  6,950.   The extra numbers are critical in moving the EB2 line for India and China – where the wait would otherwise be measured in decades instead of years. 


EB2 - The world waits and nothing for  India/China

Posted 6/12/2012

EB2 continues to remain "unavailable" for India and China with the July Visa Bulletin.  That is "old news" and will be the case for the rest of the fiscal year.  What is new is that the rest of the world is now backlogged  to January 1, 2009.  The State Department is anticipating that EB2 may become "U" ("unavailable") for the entire world before the end of the fiscal year.

This news is temporary in that with the start of the new fiscal year, EB2 will again become available for India and China.  But the EB2 India and China date is likely to be backlogged to well before May 1, 2010 which it had reached in March, 2012.

The news for India and China EB2 will be particularly bad next year.  Both countries exhausted their allocated EB2 numbers very early in the year, and benefitted from being allocated numbers from the rest of the world.  Those numbers can only be allocated in the expectation that they will be otherwise unused.  The current situation shows that this was a miscalculation - and the State Department will be unlikely to provide so many "extra" EB2 numbers to India and China next year.

Posted 3/26/2012

The good news for EB2 India and China is over.  In May 2011 EB2 India advanced to July 1, 2006 - the first movement in a year.  As of this month (and for next month) the visa bulletin shows EB2 India and China at May 1, 2010!!    But on or before April 6, 2012, the May, 2012 Visa Bulletin will be published and this is what it will say:

EB2 India....... EB2 China......  15AUG2007

That's right - India and China will retrogress almost three years.

And as of last week, the Visa Office has stopped issuing visa numbers to USCIS for EB2 India and China for priority dates later than August 15, 2007.  If USCIS has already requested a visa number for applicants with those priority dates, their adjustment of status applicants can be completed.  But if visa numbers have not been requested, those applications cannot be completed - not withstanding that the visa bulletin shows their priority dates are current.  Those with priority dates earlier than May 1, 2010 can continue to file I-485 adjustment of status applications through the end of April - but those applications may be pending for a very long time.

This information comes from Charles Oppenheim, the Chief of the Immigrant Visa Control and Reporting Division of the Bureau of Consular Affairs of the U.S. Department of State.  He does not expect any substantial movement in EB2 for India and China before the end of the fiscal year (September 30, 2012). 

Other Categories

Mr. Oppenheim has predicted that EB3 will continue to advance for all countries.  The worldwide cutoff (08Apr06) will advance 3 to 5 weeks.  EB3 China (01Mar05) will advance up to six weeks, and EB3 India (01Sep02) will advance up to 2 weeks.  EB1 will remain current for all countries.  Family categories will advance generally from 3 to 5 weeks, except F2A which could move up to 2.5 months.



EB2 moves forward for India/China

Posted 12/13/2011

Employment based 2nd preference advances to January 1, 2009 - a huge move forward for India and China.  But this move almost guarantees that this category will retrogress later this year.

In Section D of the January Visa Bulletin, DOS explains that the rapid advancement is meant to generate sufficient demand to utilize the annual EB2 limit.  An advance in the visa bulletin availability date produces I-485 filings - but there is a lag of three to six months before visa numbers are actually requested by USCIS.  For this reason, advancing the cutoff date late in the year does not result in utilization of visa numbers for this fiscal year.   Therefore, State is aggressive early in the year in advancing cut off dates.  As explained in the Visa Bulletin for January:   " While this action greatly increases the potential for an eventual retrogression of the cut-off at some point during the year, it also provides the best opportunity to utilize all numbers available under the annual limit."

Priority dates which are current in January may not be current later this year!  

5 months!
India & China EB2 advances to March 8, 2007

Updated 6/14/2011

The July visa bulletin shows EB2 India and China advancing to March 8, 2007.   Our earlier prediction that EB2 for India would not pass 2006 is now clearly wrong.  The "upgrade demand" may be less than the State Department expected - or may not have cleared the PERM/I-140 pipeline yet.  The advance since October 2010 is now exactly one year!

India and China will move in "lock step" for EB2 through September 30, 2011.

EB3 for India is backed up to May 1, 2002 - which  represents less than four months movement since October, 2010. 

EB2 India to move forward - finally

Updated 4/8/2011

EB2 India advances 7 weeks - first movement this year

The May Visa Bulletin shows an advance in India EB2 to July 1, 2006.   There are no "regular" EB2 visa numbers left for India - this cutoff date represents an allocation of the "otherwise unused" numbers now available to India.

The State Department advanced the India date "more rapidly than normal, in an attempt to ascertain the amount of 'upgrade' demand in the pipeline,"  and warns that this may result in a surge in demand that will adversely affect future movement in India EB2.

We are still predicting that by the end of the year (September 30, 2011), India and China EB2 will not have passed 2006.

Updated 4/6/2011

New information from Visa Control & Reporting Division indicates movement may be more than two weeks.  India will receive most of 12,000+ add'l visa numbers during fiscal 2011.  See our report EB2 Story - India, China & the "Otherwise Unused" Employment Visa Numbers.

updated 4/4/2011

May Visa Bulletin to show advance of one to two weeks - maybe more!

We have learned from the Chief of the Visa Control and Reporting Division, U.S. Department of State, that India EB2 will finally move forward in the month of May, 2011.  The May Visa Bulletin will likely be published at the beginning of next week, and should show some advance - one or  two weeks - possibly more.

As most are aware, the EB2 India cutoff has been May 8, 2006 since September, 2010.  What many do not realize is that the annual limit for India EB2 (2,803) has already been reached - even though the cutoff date has not moved thus far during the entire fiscal year.  The reason for the advance is that overall employment demand for the rest of the world will be less than the available supply of visas.  The "otherwise unused" visas in certain categories can be allocated to oversubscribed countries (India and China) in the second preference, without regard to the seven percent limitation. 

12,000 extra EB2 numbers for India?

The Visa Control Office is looking at EB1 demand this year - projecting that about 12,000 EB1 numbers will go unused and fall through to EB2.  Those "otherwise unused" numbers become available for EB2 without regard to the section of law which limits each oversubscribed country to 7% of the preference allocation.  What this means is that the "extra" numbers are issued in priority date order, without regard to country.    Of course, the oldest priority dates for  noncurrent EB2 applicants belong  to applicants from India.

How many Indian applicants will become eligible to file for adjustment of status if the EB2 priority date is advanced by two weeks?  By one month?   The answer is currently unknown, but the Visa Control Office wants to get a good feel for this before the end of the fiscal year so that all the "otherwise unused" visa numbers can be used.   As a result, while the initial intent of the Visa Control Office was to advance the EB2 India date by a week or two, it is now considering a more substantial advance so that actual demand can be tested.

The Visa Control and Reporting Division allocates the "extra" numbers in advance - assuming that they will not be required during the remainder of the fiscal year.   

India EB2 could reach November 2006 by fiscal year end

In August or September, the Visa Control and Reporting Division will make an additional allocation based on world wide employment demand.  The intent is to use all the "otherwise unused" and available visa numbers.  The best case scenario for India EB2 based on currently available data is Fall, 2006.

EB3 for India, China and world to continue slow forward movement

Worldwide EB3 movement may be in the range three to six weeks per month.  EB3 for India and China may move forward at the rate of one or two weeks per month.

These dates are predictions - not promises.  Small movements in priority dates as published in the visa bulletin can create huge demand.  Some of that demand is predictable from data currently available to the Department of State.   Some of that demand is unknown.  The largest current variable for EB2 India demand for priority dates after May 8, 2006 may be "upgrades" from EB3 to EB2.  Beneficiaries who have obtained new labor certifications and preference petitions in EB2 category keep their EB3 priority dates in certain circumstances.  We know this includes substantial numbers in the Indian EB3 line who can move to EB2.  The actual number, and their priority dates is currently unknown to the Department of State.

EB2 India - How long??

updated December, 2010

The Visa Bulletin for January, 2011 shows a processing date for EB2 India of May 8, 2006.  That date has not advanced since September, 2010.  In the December Visa Bulletin, the State Department predicted "Visa Availability in the Coming Months."  For the Employment Second category, the prediction is "India: no movement."

The numbers tell the story:

Only 140,000 visas (or adjustment of status applications) for employment based applicants can be granted in each year.

Subject to some adjustment for numbers flowing between categories, only 40,040 visas can be issued for EB2.  When an immigrant enters the U.S. as an EB2, with a spouse and two children, four visa numbers are used - not one.  The average employment based immigrant family will use between two and three visa numbers.  That means less than 70,000 families will enter the U.S. each year as employment based applicants - and fewer than 20,000 families based with  EB2 preference category.  

And it gets worse.  

Each country is limited to no more than seven percent of the total of visas available, and if it appears that a country will use its full seven percent, then limits also apply within preference categories.  That doesn't matter for most countries, but is critical for those from India or China with EB2 classification.    This year, only 2,803 EB2 visa numbers can be allocated for India.

How long is the line?

Demand Data used by the State Department to determine the cut off dates used in the Visa Bulletin tell part of the story.  Here is what was used for the January, 2010 Indian EB2 determination:

Cumulative Demand prior  to:  India  Entire World
     (data as of 12/8/2010)    
January 1, 2006 0 0
January 1, 2007 13,125 18,025
January 1, 2008 22,825 33,275
January 1, 2010 22,925 33,525

At the rate of 3,000 visa numbers a year allocated to India EB2, and with a cumulative demand of 13,125 with priority dates earlier than 1/1/2007, it will take more than four years from now before all those with 2006 priority dates become current!!

Seven percent plus.... a bit of relief

While India and China are each limited to seven percent (2,803) EB2 visa numbers, if worldwide demand is  insufficient to use all available numbers in a particular Employment preference category, then the otherwise unused numbers may be made available without regard to the annual per-country limits.  Last year, this meant that  additional  EB2 visa numbers were made available to India and China.  Instead of 2,803 EB2 numbers, India was able to use 19,961.  If this keeps up, the four year backlog for those with 2006 priority dates may be much less.   The additional EB2 numbers for India are the result of a lack of demand worldwide.  In years when the economy has been strong, there has been no such drop down.  And this fiscal year, as there are 10,657 fewer total employment based visa numbers available world wide, it is likely that there will be far fewer unused numbers available to India and China.

But not so fast ...

Notice that "Cumulative Demand" only increases by about 9,000 from 1/1/2007 to 1/1/2008.  And notice it only increases by 100 for the two years 2008-2009.  Is it possible that only 100 Indians have EB2 priority dates between  January 1, 2008 and December 31, 2009?  The clear answer is "no." 

"Cumulative Demand" includes only those cases which are either at U.S. consuls ready to process immigrant visas or which are sitting on the USCIS Service Center shelf attached to pending I-485 petitions.   Recall that in July, 2007 all employment based preference categories became current, and thousands of applications were filed.  In August, 2007, visa availability retrogressed - and those I-485 filings are still sitting on Service Center shelves.    In the meantime, thousands of labor certifications have been approved, and thousands of preference petitions have been approved.  Some of those labor certifications were filed earlier than July, 2007.   In fact, the Department of Labor completed a backlog elimination project in late 2007 adding about 70,000 labor certifications to the line.

Applicants who did not file I-485s by August 14, 2007 are not included within Cumulative Demand.  Applicants whose preference petitions were approved after July 31, 2007 are not included within Cumulative Demand.  Applicants whose pending adjustment of status applications have been transferred from Service Centers to District Offices are not included within Cumulative Demand.   Applicants who are included in the EB3 Cumulative Demand who have upgraded to EB2 through the filing of a second PERM application are not included in Cumulative Demand.

Cumulative Demand is the visible tip of the EB2 Indian visa backlog.

So how long is the EB2 wait for Indians?

Predicting future visa arability is a guessing game - and predictions are often wrong.  However, based on experience and known data, I believe the following are realistic minimums:

2006 priority dates range from current to a four year wait.

2007 priority dates range from four years to an seven year wait

2008 priority dates more than seven years.

2009 priority dates more than eleven years.

2010 priority dates - beyond prediction

Is it really this bad?

If nothing changes, I believe the above predictions are realistic.  However, I anticipate that there will be change.  Even without comprehensive immigration reform, there are those in Congress who recognize who absurd this situation is.  Minor changes in the law can reduce or eliminate the EB2 (and the EB3) backlog.   These include not counting family members against the quota, and recapturing visa numbers wasted from prior years.   

A major change in the law can result in those in the existing employment lines being grandfathered into a shorter wait.    If the economy does not improve and the demand for employment visas remains low, extra EB2 numbers will be available for India.

Several bills have already been introduced that include these types of provisions, and I do expect some kind of change for the better long before an Indian with a 2010 EB2 priority date would reach the end of the line in the normal course.