Mr. Charles Oppenheim of the Department of State's Visa Office has announced predictions for the movement of priority dates for the remainder of this fiscal year (October 1, 2008 through September 30, 2009) and future years. Based on processing at USCIS for the first 7.5 months of the fiscal year, Mr. Oppenheim estimates that all 140,000 employment-based immigrant visa numbers will be used this fiscal year. Mr. Oppenheim announced the following:
- The employment-based first preference (EB1) worldwide category will remain current for the remainder of the fiscal year, but demand in this category is high. As of July 2009, the EB1 categories for India and China are current, but the establishment of a cut-off date may become necessary in August or September 2009 if demand remains high.
- As of July 2009, the cut-off date for individuals from India in the employment-based second preference (EB2) category is January 1, 2000. This category may become unavailable in August or September 2009. The backlog is due to the fact that there are currently approximately 25,000 EB2 Indian cases that are awaiting visa numbers from the Department of State, but, as for all countries, only 2,800 EB2 visas are available per year, plus any unused numbers from the first, fourth, and fifth preference categories. As of July 2009, the cut-off date for EB2 Chinese cases is January 1, 2000, and this category also may become unavailable in August or September 2009, given the significant number of such cases that USCIS has reviewed, but that are awaiting visa numbers from the Department of State.
- With respect to employment-based third preference (EB3) visa availability, the worldwide category will remain unavailable for the duration of this fiscal year, and the Department of State estimates that, as of October 1, 2009, the cut-off date for the category will be March 1, 2003. EB3 visa numbers for applicants from India, China, and Mexico also will be unavailable for the remainder of the fiscal year. Based on current demand, it is estimated that as of October 1, 2009, the following cut-off dates might be established: March 1, 2003 for China; November 1, 2001 for India; and March 1, 2003 for Mexico.
- The employment-based fourth preference category, which includes religious workers and other special immigrants, has experienced increased usage this year. Although this category is current for July 2009, continued heavy demand could require the establishment of a cut-off date later in the fiscal year.
- Usage of the employment-based fifth preference category for immigrant investors has also increased this year.