The U.S. Department of State (DOS) recently released its July 2007 Visa Bulletin. To the surprise of most employers and foreign nationals, the DOS made all employment-based immigrant visa categories (except for the EB-3 Other Worker category) current. Therefore, beginning on July 1, 2007, foreign nationals who are eligible to complete the last stage of the employment-based immigrant visa process, but who previously had not been able to com-plete the process due to the priority date retrogression will now be able to commence the last stage of the process. Additionally, foreign nationals who previously filed in the last stage of the employment-based immigrant visa process, but whose applications were being held up due to the priority date retrogression may now have their files pulled by either the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) as part of the Adjustment of Status process (AOS) or the DOS as part of the Consular Processing (CP) process that the processing of the applications may continue.
Although the DOS made these categories available in the month of July, the DOS warned in the Visa Bulletin that as demand increases in these categories, it will have to severely retrogress all of these categories in the future in order to not exceed the statutory maximum number of employment-based immigrant visas which may be issued an-nually in each category. However, the DOS did not indicate exactly when the categories will again severely retrogress due to the fact that it can not predict when demand for these visas will actually increase. It is assumed that all of the categories will remain current for either the next two or three months. However, this could change if the USCIS and DOS begin to quickly adjudicate pending cases.
Because it currently takes the USCIS at least seven to nine months to review AOS applications and because it nor-mally takes the DOS approximately four to seven months to complete the CP procedure through its consulates abroad, it is assumed that foreign nationals who do not already have applications pending will not be able to have their applications adjudicated prior to the next anticipated retrogression in two to three months. However, foreign nationals who have applied for AOS will be able to continue to obtain Employment Authorization Documents (EAD) and Advance Parole (AP) documents while their applications are pending, even after the priority dates retro-gress. After the priority dates retrogress again, the USCIS and DOS will not be able to continue with the processing of an application until the foreign national’s priority date again becomes available. Additional information about the future movement of the priority dates will be made available in our Firm’s future Immigration Updates when it is made available by the DOS. The following is a chart to illustrate the movement of the priority dates since the dates retrogressed in 2005:
***See PDF for Table***