The U.S. Department of State (DOS) recently released its May 2012 Visa Bulletin. As discussed in our firm's Immigration Update dated March 19, 2012, the DOS has severely retrogressed the EB-2 Indian and Chinese national categories from May 2010 to August 15, 2007. The severe retrogression was caused by an "unexpected" increase in demand for immigrant visas from U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to complete the adjudication of adjustment of status applications in the EB-2 category for Indian and Chinese nationals. Even before the release of the Visa Bulletin, the DOS ceased as of March 23, 2012 the issuance of immigrant visas for any case with a priority date after the August 15, 2007. Although the DOS ceased issuing immigrant visas for these cases, the USCIS decided to honor the April 2012 Visa Bulletin and continue to accept adjustment of status applications filed by individuals in the EB-2 Indian and Chinese national preference categories with priority dates prior to May 2010. Indian and Chinese nationals who are able to file adjustment of status applications prior to April 30, 2012 or who have pending adjustment of status applications which have priority dates after August 15, 2007 and which were not able to be closed out by the USCIS prior to March 23, 2012 will be able to continue to extend their Employment Authorization Documents (EADs) and Advance Parole documents until their priority dates become available again and the USCIS is then eligible to complete the adjudication of their adjustment of status applications.
The DOS hopes that by retrogressing the EB-2 Indian and Chinese national preference categories to August 15, 2007, it will be able to keep the approval of immigrant visas for these categories within the statutory limitations. However, the DOS does not have accurate information from the USCIS as to the number of adjustment of status applications that it has pending with priority dates before August 15, 2007. Therefore, there is a likelihood that the DOS may have to further retrogress these categories or make them Unavailable at least until the beginning of the government's next fiscal year on October 1, 2012 in order to ensure that the statutory limitations on these categories are honored not exceeded.
Additionally, in the Visa Bulletin, the DOS for the first time has indicated that a priority date cut-off may have to be established for the EB-2 World Category. Except during fiscal year 2008 when the DOS had to make all employment-based immigrant visa categories Unavailable due to extreme over demand when it made all of the employment-based immigrant visa categories Available in the month of July 2007, the EB-2 World category has never retrogressed but has always been Available. Increased demand in all of the employment-based immigrant visa categories may be causing the DOS to reconsider the availability of immigrant visas in the EB-2 World category. Finally, the DOS stated that it is unable to predict future movement in the EB-2 Indian and Chinese national categories at this time and will not be able to predict when the categories will be able to return to the May 2010 priority date cut-off .
Please click here to view table showing a comparison of priority date movement since the inception of the current retrogression in October 2005