The U.S. Department of State has published the Monthly Visa Bulletin for April 2015, announcing significant advances in visa availability for the month of April under the EB-2 preference category for applicants born in India and China.

Details April 2015 Visa Bulletin

Beginning April 1, 2015, EB-2 applicants born in India with a priority date earlier than September 1, 2007, may file Applications to Adjust Status with U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Services (CIS), or have their pending applications approved. Applicants seeking to apply for their immigrant visas through an appropriate U.S. consulate abroad should also see their pending cases move forward through the National Visa Center and the designated consular post. The advance to a September 1, 2007 “cut-off date” is an advance of eight months from the cut-off date posted in the March Visa Bulletin.

Also beginning April 1st, EB-2 applicants born in China with a priority date earlier than April 1, 2011, may proceed with their applications. This represents a seven-month advance in the cut-off date. This seven-month advance in EB-2 China roughly corresponds with a nine-month retrogression under the EB-3 China category, which should effectively end the “EB-3 downgrade” phenomenon whereby EB-2 China applicants rushed to file under the lower EB-3 category.

EB-3 applicants born in countries other than India and China may now proceed with their applications if their priority date is earlier than October 1, 2014, which represents a four-month advance in the cut-off date.

Details April 2015 Visa Bulletin

The Chief of Visa Control and Reporting for the Department of State (DOS), has projected that visa availability under the EB-2 China category may advance more modestly next month before possibly tapering off or even reaching a correction (retrogression) later in the year. EB-2 India, however, is expected to continue making steady advances over the next couple of months before holding steady later in the fiscal year.

He confirmed that the Department of State’s more rapid advancement of the cut-off dates under the visa bulletin over the past few months has been in response to the President’s immigration executive actions in November 2014, which called for the DOS and U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Services (CIS) to work together on a system to alleviate the visa backlogs.

Key Takeaways

The Department of State appears to have implemented a new strategy that advances cut-off dates by greater degrees earlier in the fiscal year in lieu of more measured and evenly distributed advances throughout the fiscal year. While this new approach cannot result in the approval of applicants in excess of the annual quotas, it is a strategy that should enable more applicants to file their Applications to Adjust Status earlier, perhaps by months or even years. Because applicants are able to file Applications for Employment Authorization Document (EAD) cards together with their Applications to Adjust Status to U.S. Lawful Permanent Resident, earlier filing translates into earlier employment eligibility for spouses and dependent children.

The Department of State’s new approach may result in a comparative “roller coaster” of alternating periods of rapid advancement at the beginning of the fiscal year followed by retrogression or even complete unavailability at the end of each fiscal year. Accordingly, applicants should always proceed with filing Applications to Adjust Status as soon as they are eligible. Additionally, applicants should be prepared for a longer wait time from the date of filing to the date of final approval. Because this situation likely will have been caused by an artificial, earlier-than-expected Adjustment of Status filing date, applicants will likely receive certain benefits earlier even if the majority of applicants are not ultimately approved for permanent residency earlier.

Because the EB-3 China category will retrogress by nine months, applicants with current priority dates that will retrogress in April should file their Applications to Adjust Status, or submit responses to CIS Requests for Evidence seeking new medical examinations, before April 1st. Applicants who will have current priority dates for the first time in April 1st should contact their Foster immigration attorneys now to ensure preparation and filing of their applications as soon as possible.