Cutoff dates in the EB-2 India category advance by sixteen months, cutoff dates in EB-3 for the Rest of the World advance by five months, cutoff dates for China advance by five and a half months, and EB-3 China is still ahead of EB-2 China.

The U.S. Department of State (DOS) has released its March 2015 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 2015 Visa Bulletin Say?

The March 2015 Visa Bulletin shows an advancement of 16 months for the EB-2 India category. EB-3 cutoff dates for the worldwide category will advance by five months, the EB-2 cutoff dates for China will advance by five and a half months, and the EB-3 cutoff dates for China will advance by seven weeks.

The cutoff date for F2A applicants from all countries will advance slightly in March.

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

EB-2: The cutoff date for applicants in the EB-2 category chargeable to India will advance to January 1, 2007. The cutoff date for applicants in the EB-2 category chargeable to China will advance to September 1, 2010. The EB-2 category for all other countries will remain current.

EB-3: The cutoff date for applicants in the EB-3 category chargeable to India will advance by 10 days to January 1, 2004. The cutoff date for applicants in the EB-3 category chargeable to China will advance by seven weeks to October 22, 2011, which remains ahead of the cutoff date for EB-2 China. The cutoff date for applicants in the EB-3 category chargeable to the Philippines, Mexico, and the worldwide category will advance by five and a half months to June 1, 2014.

The relevant priority date cutoffs for foreign nationals in the EB-2 category are as follows:

China: September 1, 2010 (forward movement of 170 days)
India: January 1, 2007 (forward movement of 487 days)
Mexico: Current
Philippines: Current
Rest of the World: Current

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

China: October 22, 2011 (forward movement of 51 days)
India: January 1, 2004 (forward movement of 10 days)
Mexico: June 1, 2014 (forward movement of 151 days)
Philippines: June 1, 2014 (forward movement of 151 days)
Rest of the World: June 1, 2014 (forward movement of 151 days)

Developments Affecting the EB-2 Employment-Based Category

Mexico, the Philippines, and the Rest of the World

The EB-2 category for applicants chargeable to all countries other than China and India has been current since November 2012. The March Visa Bulletin indicates no change to this trend. This means that applicants in the EB-2 category chargeable to all countries other than China and India may continue to file AOS applications or have applications approved through March 2015.

China

The February Visa Bulletin indicated a cutoff date of March 15, 2010 for EB-2 applicants chargeable to China. The March Visa Bulletin indicates a cutoff date of September 1, 2010, reflecting forward movement of five and a half months. This means that applicants in the EB-2 category chargeable to China with a priority date prior to September 1, 2010 may file AOS applications or have applications approved in March 2015.

India

The cutoff date for EB-2 applicants chargeable to India advances by 16 months to January 1, 2007. This means that only applicants in the EB-2 category chargeable to India with a priority date prior to January 1, 2007may file AOS applications or have applications approved in March 2015.

Developments Affecting the EB-3 Employment-Based Category

China

The February Visa Bulletin indicated a cutoff date of September 1, 2011. The March Visa Bulletin shows a cutoff date of October 11, 2011, an advancement of seven weeks. This means that applicants in the EB-3 category chargeable to China with a priority date prior to October 11, 2011 may file AOS applications or have applications approved in March 2015.

India

The February Visa Bulletin indicated a cutoff date of December 22, 2003. The March Visa Bulletin will advance slightly, with a cutoff date ofJanuary 1, 2004. This means that EB-3 applicants chargeable to India with a priority date prior to January 1, 2004 may file AOS applications or have applications approved in March 2015.

Rest of the World

The February Visa Bulletin indicated a cutoff date of January 1, 2014 for EB-3 applicants chargeable to the worldwide category. The March Visa Bulletin indicates a cutoff date of June 1, 2014, reflecting forward movement of 151 days. This means that applicants in the EB-3 category chargeable to the worldwide category with a priority date prior to June 1, 2014 may file AOS applications or have applications approved in March 2015.

Developments Affecting the F2A Family-Sponsored Category

The February Visa Bulletin indicated a cutoff date of April 22, 2013 for F2A applicants from Mexico. The March Visa Bulletin indicates a cutoff date of May 22, 2013, reflecting forward movement of 45 days. This means that applicants from Mexico with a priority date prior to May 22, 2013 will be able to file AOS applications or have applications approved in March 2015.

The February Visa Bulletin indicated a cutoff date of May 8, 2013 for F2A applicants from all other countries. The March Visa Bulletin indicates a cutoff date of June 22, 2013, reflecting forward movement of 45 days. This means that F2A applicants from all other countries with a priority date prior to June 22, 2013 will be able to file AOS applications or have applications approved in March 2015.

Developments in the Coming Months

As noted in last month’s alert, the DOS Visa Office predicts the following movement in the next three months:

F2A Family-Sponsored Category

  • The cutoff date in the F2A category will likely advance by three to four weeks per month.

Employment-Based Second Preference Category

  • The worldwide category will likely remain current.
  • The cutoff date in the EB-2 China category will likely advance by three to six weeks per month.
  • The cutoff date in the EB-2 India category will likely advance by four to six months.

Employment-Based Third Preference Category

  • The cutoff date in the EB-3 worldwide category will continue to advance rapidly for the next several months. Demand is expected to increase significantly, at which point, the cutoff dates will be adjusted accordingly.
  • The cutoff date in the EB-3 China category is expected to advance rapidly in the next few months. Demand is expected to increase and may result in adjustments to the cutoff date within the next six months.
  • The cutoff date in the EB-3 India category will advance up to two weeks.
  • The cutoff date in the EB-3 Mexico category will remain at the worldwide date.
  • The cutoff date in the EB-3 Philippines category will remain at the worldwide date. Increased demand in this category may result in adjustments to the cutoff date later in the fiscal year.

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 2015 Visa Bulletin in its entirety, please visit the DOS website