Cutoff dates for EB-2 China and India retrogress to January 1, 2006. Cutoff dates for EB-3 China, India, and the Philippines advance to December 22, 2004.

The US Department of State (DOS) has released its September 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 US embassy or consulate abroad, provided that their priority dates are prior to the respective cutoff dates specified by the DOS.

What Does The September 2015 Visa Bulletin Say?

The September 2015 Visa Bulletin shows a large retrogression of visa numbers for EB-2 China and India, and an advancement of six and a half months for the EB-3 China, Philippines, and India allotments. The cutoff date for F2A applicants in China, India, Philippines, and the worldwide categories will advance by two and a half months in September. The cutoff date for F2A applicants from Mexico will advance by three months.

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

EB-2: The cutoff date for applicants in the EB-2 category chargeable to China will retrogress by nearly eight years, and the cutoff date for applicants in the EB-2 category chargeable to India will retrogress by two years and nine months. For both categories, the cutoff date has been set at January 1, 2006. 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 the worldwide category and Mexico will advance by one month to August 15, 2015. The cutoff date for applicants in the EB-3 category chargeable to China, India, and the Philippines will advance by six and a half months to December 22, 2004.

EB-5: The cutoff date for applicants in the EB-5 category chargeable to China will advance by three weeks to September 22, 2013. The cutoff dates for applicants in the EB-5 category chargeable to the worldwide category remain current.  The relevant priority date cutoffs for foreign nationals in the EB-2 category are as follows:

ChinaJanuary 1, 2006 (retrogression of 2,905 days)

India: January 1, 2006 (retrogression of 1,004 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: December 22, 2004 (forward movement of 204 days)

India: December 22, 2004 (forward movement of 204 days)

Mexico: August 15, 2015 (forward movement of 31 days)

Philippines: December 22, 2004 (forward movement of 204 days)

Rest of the World: August 15, 2015 (forward movement of 31 days)

The relevant priority date cutoffs for foreign nationals in the EB-5 category are as follows:

China: September 22, 2013 (forward movement of 21 days)

Rest of the World: Current

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 September 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 September 2015.

China

The August Visa Bulletin indicated a cutoff date of December 15, 2013 for EB-2 applicants chargeable to China. The September Visa Bulletin indicates a cutoff date of January 1, 2006, reflecting a retrogression of 2,905 days (nearly eight years). This means that applicants in the EB-2 category chargeable to China with a priority date prior to January 1, 2006 may file AOS applications or have applications approved in September 2015.

India

The August Visa Bulletin indicated a cutoff date of October 1, 2008 for EB-2 applicants chargeable to India. The September Visa Bulletin indicates a cutoff date of January 1, 2006, a retrogression of two years and nine months. This means that applicants in the EB-2 category chargeable to India with a priority date prior to January 1, 2006 may file AOS applications or have applications approved in September 2015.

Developments Affecting The Eb-3 Employment-Based Category

China

The August Visa Bulletin indicated a cutoff date of June 1, 2004 for EB-3 applicants chargeable to China. In September, the cutoff date for EB-3 applicants chargeable to China will advance by six and a half months to December 22, 2004. This means that applicants in the EB-3 category chargeable to China with a priority date prior to December 22, 2004 may file AOS applications or have applications approved in September 2015.

India

The August Visa Bulletin indicated a cutoff date of June 1, 2004 for EB-3 applicants chargeable to India. In September, the cutoff date for EB-3 applicants chargeable to China will advance by six and a half months to December 22, 2004. This means that applicants in the EB-3 category chargeable to India with a priority date prior to December 22, 2004 may file AOS applications or have applications approved in September 2015.

The Philippines

The August Visa Bulletin indicated a cutoff date of June 1, 2004 for EB-3 applicants chargeable to the Philippines. In September, the cutoff date for EB-3 applicants chargeable to China will advance by six and a half months to December 22, 2004. This means that applicants in the EB-3 category chargeable to the Philippines with a priority date prior to December 22, 2004 may file AOS applications or have applications approved in September 2015.

Mexico

The August Visa Bulletin indicated a cutoff date of July 15, 2015 for EB-3 applicants chargeable to Mexico. The September Visa Bulletin indicates a cutoff date of August 15, 2015, reflecting forward movement of one month. This means that applicants in the EB-3 category chargeable to Mexico with a priority date prior to August 15, 2015 may file AOS applications or have applications approved in September 2015.

Rest of the World

The August Visa Bulletin indicated a cutoff date of July 15, 2015 for EB-3 applicants chargeable to the worldwide category. The September Visa Bulletin indicates a cutoff date of August 15, 2015, reflecting forward movement of one month. This means that applicants in the EB-3 category chargeable to the worldwide category with a priority date prior to August 15, 2015 may file AOS applications or have applications approved in September 2015.

Developments Affecting The F2a Family-Sponsored Category

The August Visa Bulletin indicated a cutoff date of December 15, 2013 for F2A applicants from Mexico. The September Visa Bulletin indicates a cutoff date of February 1, 2014, an advancement of three months. This means that applicants from Mexico with a priority date prior to February 1, 2014 may file AOS applications or have applications approved in September 2015.

The August Visa Bulletin indicated a cutoff date of December 15, 2013 for F2A applicants from all other countries. The September Visa Bulletin indicates a cutoff date of March 1, 2014, reflecting forward movement of two and a half months. This means that F2A applicants from all other countries with a priority date prior to March 1, 2014 may file AOS applications or have applications approved in September 2015.

Developments In The Coming Months

It is anticipated that EB-2 visa numbers for China and India will advance again at the start of the 2016 fiscal year (October).  Regarding the Diversity Visa (“DV”) program, the US Department of State has warned that “[e]ntitlement to immigrant status in the Diversity Visa (“DV”) category lasts only through the end of the fiscal (visa) year for which the applicant is selected in the lottery. The year of entitlement for all applicants registered for the DV-2015 program ends as of September 30, 2015. . . Numbers could be exhausted prior to September 30.”

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, 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 September 2015 Visa Bulletin in its entirety, please visit the DOS Website.