On September 8, 2014, the October 2014 Visa Bulletin was released (previously covered by Greenberg Traurig here). Shortly thereafter, on September 11, 2014, AILA “checked in” with Charles (“Charlie”) Oppenheim, Chief of the Visa Control and Reporting Division, U.S. Department of State, to obtain his analysis of current trends and future projections for the various immigrant preference categories. The checkup is part of an AILA monthly series designed to keep members informed of Visa Bulletin progress and projections. Below are highlights of Charlie’s predictions based on the October 2014 Visa Bulletin:

EB-2 India:

  • The October 2014 priority date for EB-2 India is May 1, 2009. However, Charlie believes that both the current demand increase and the large volume of EB-3 to EB-2 upgrades for Indian-born applicants may lead the priority date to retrogress to early 2005. Accordingly, it may be wise for any eligible EB-2 India clients to file their adjustment of status applications by the end of October 2014.
  • The maximum number of India EB-2 immigrant visas for FY 2014 has been reached. However, USCIS offices may continue to accept and process EB-2 India cases with priority dates earlier than May 1, 2009 during the month of September, but those cases will be held in the Visa Office’s “Pending Demand” file until October 1, 2014.

EB-5 China:

  • The State Department made an announcement that as of August 23, 2014, EB-5 immigrant visa numbers for Chinese nationals in the EB-5 category would be unavailable through September 30, 2014. As expected, the October 2014 Visa Bulletin reflected the EB-5 visa is now current for mainland-born Chinese EB-5 investors. However, Charlie continues to predict that a cut-off date may be imposed at some point during the second half of the fiscal year, possibly as early as May. Charlie hopes that sufficient demand data will be available in January which will help in predicting future movement in this category.

Philippines:

  • The October 2014 Visa Bulletin reflects the decreasing demand for both employment-based and family-based visas for the Philippines, as the priority dates have continued to improve. However, Charlie believes that although demand is low and dates will remain favorable for the foreseeable future, this may change if more applicants come forward to claim immigrant visas.

Preference-Based Visa Process:

  • Charlie provided some additional insight into how the DOS and USCIS coordinate to ensure preference-based visas are processed more efficiently since the DOS’s introduction of a new system in spring 2007. Specifically, as a result of the spring 2007 upgrade, cases that are denied authorization due to a non-current priority date are now accepted by DOS and maintained in a “Pending Demand” file. When the priority date becomes current, DOS automatically authorizes the case and notifies the appropriate USCIS office. Accordingly, the new system encourages greater efficiency and visibility between DOS and USCIS, and enables Charlie to better predict priority date movement.