The U.S. Department of State has published the Monthly Visa Bulletin for May 2015, announcing a cut-off date for the EB-5 (Investor) category for applicants born in China. Additionally, visa availability under the EB-3 category for applicants born in the Philippines retrogresses dramatically, with a new cut-off date of July 1, 2007. Visa availability under all other categories advances.

EB-5 China Cut-off Date

Beginning May 1, 2015, EB-5 applicants born in China (mainland) must have a priority date earlier than May 1, 2013, in order to be issued their immigrant visas at a U.S. Consulate abroad or file their I-485 Applications to Adjust Status to U.S. Lawful Permanent Resident in the United States. The EB-5 priority date is the date the CIS receives the Form I-526, Immigrant Petition by Alien Entrepreneur.

Key Takeaway – The introduction of a “cut-off date” under the EB-5 China category creates additional timing and process considerations for applicants. Instead of applying for an immigrant visa and entering the United States upon approval of the Form I-526, applicants born in China must take into account the fact that they will not be approved for immigrant visas to enter the United States until their priority date becomes current under a future Visa Bulletin. Currently the Department of State offers no prediction on the rate of future advancement under this category. EB-5 China applicants should consult with their Foster immigration attorney to discuss the impact of these changes on their individual cases.

EB-3 Philippines

The most dramatic change in the May Visa Bulletin is the retrogression of more than 7 years under the EB-3 category for persons born in the Philippines. The Department of State noted that visa availability advanced significantly in recent months in order to ensure full usage, but the rapid advancement generated enough demand to require significant retrogression beginning in May 2015.

Key Takeaway – Applicants who have current priority dates under the April Visa Bulletin should proceed rapidly to file their I-485 Applications to Adjust Status before May 1st. The filing of an Application to Adjust Status establishes eligibility for valuable benefits, such as Employment Authorization Document (EAD) cards and travel documents for international travel (advance parole), even if it may be several months or years before permanent residency is ultimately approved.

Advances in Other Categories

While there is certainly bad news for some applicants in the May Visa Bulletin, there is good news for most others. EB-2 China availability advanced 14 months to a new cut-off date of June 1, 2012, while the EB-2 India category advanced more than 6 months to April 15, 2008. Advances were more modest under the EB-3 category, including 3 months for EB-3 China, Mexico and “All Other Areas”, and 1 week for EB-3 India. Applicants should contact their Foster immigration attorney now to initiate a new application for filing on May 1st.

Key Takeaway – Applicants with priority dates that will retrogress in May, or that will become current for the first time in May, should contact their Foster immigration attorney now to ensure preparation and filing of their applications as soon as possible. Applicants with long-pending applications who have priority dates that will become current again in May should also contact their Foster attorney who may contact the CIS to prompt resumed adjudication of pending applications.