The Department of State’s (DOS) January Visa Bulletin brings some New Years cheer for China and “All Other Countries” designations indicating that that the EB-3 subcategory for professionals and skilled workers will advance by nine months for China, from June 1, 2010 to March 1, 2011, and seven months for “All Other Countries,” from November 1, 2012 to June 1, 2013. Unfortunately, the EB-3 category for India continues to wallow in a mire of retrogression advancing only two weeks, from December 1, 2003 to December 15, 2003.
The EB-2 category offers little in the way of good reading with China advancing only a month, from January 1, 2010 to February 1, 2010, and India seeing no change from last month’s Bulletin, staying put at February 15, 2005. The EB-2 category remains “current” for “All Other Countries.” The EB-5 category remains current for now, but is expected to change in the second half of the fiscal year.
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These developments come as no surprise to those of you who follow Charles (“Charlie”) Oppenheimer’s, Chief of the Visa Control and Reporting Division at the DOS, predictions for employment-based cut-off numbers, who expected to see forward movement, albeit at a slower pace than in early 2014. In this regard, Charlie indicated that he expects to see some further advancement of the EB-3 category for China in February 2015.
For Indian nationals, in particular, the benefits contained in the upcoming Presidential Memorandum on Visa Modernization for employment-based immigrants cannot come soon enough, considering the lengthy wait times outlined above. Specifically, the Presidential Memorandum is supposed to address, among other things, the following:
- Allowing individuals whose EB-2 and EB-3 cases are retrogressed to file I-485, Applications to Adjust Status immediately rather than wait years. The DOS is expected to modify the Visa Bulletin system, and U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (“USCIS”) should release a proposed rule change in Spring 2015 that compliments DOS’ modifications. According to reports, this will result in changes as to when immigrant visas become available and approximately 410,000 people will benefit
- Establishing faster processing times for PERM labor certification applications, similar to USCIS’ premium processing, along with revised recruitment methods and changes to the harmless error standard
- Providing parole options for entrepreneurs, inventors, researchers and founders. This will require a regulatory change and is unlikely to be implemented until late 2015 at the earliest.
- Enhancing the flexibility and use of I-485 portability to accommodate job changes, such as promotions. Unfortunately, it will be at least six months before specific application details are released by the White House and employers and employees can start enjoying the benefits that will be contained in the Presidential Memorandum, as outlined in the Executive Action announcement last month.
Some relief is around the corner – the Final Rule for H-4 Employment Authorization Documents is expected to be released sometime in January 2015. For the meantime, employers and employees should keep tracking employment-based cut off dates in the DOS’s monthly Visa Bulletins.