On November 9, 2015 the December 2015 Visa Bulletin was released. Immediately following publication of the December 2015 Visa Bulletin, AILA “checked in” with Charlie Oppenheim, Chief of the Visa Control and Reporting Division, U.S. Department of State, for his analysis of current trends and future projections for the various immigrant preference categories. The following are highlights of Mr. Oppenheim’s projections for monthly final action date movement through the first quarter of 2016:
Per the December 2015 Visa Bulletin, the final action dates for EB-2 India will advance ten months to June 1, 2007. Mr. Oppenheim projects that EB-2 India may advance monthly by as many as eight months in the upcoming months. He expects that this EB-2 movement may spark EB-3 India upgrades beginning in December 2015/January 2016, which will impact demand and eventually slow EB-2 India advancement in early 2016.
EB-2 and EB-3 China
The EB-2 China final action date remains unchanged for December 2015 and Mr. Oppenheim expects that this date will remain the same in the upcoming months, given that immigrant visa number use is expected to exceed targeted usage for the first quarter of fiscal year 2016.
The EB-3 China final action date is later than the EB-2 China final action date, and thus Mr. Oppenheim anticipates that some EB-2 China cases will downgrade to EB-3. This may result in an increased EB-3 demand which could slow or even retrogress that category, thereby allowing EB-2 China to advance again. Mr. Oppenheim expects that this rebalancing may occur as early as April 2016
F-2A and F-2B
Mr. Oppenheim predicts that we will continue to see advancements in family-based 2B and 2A categories. Family-based 2B category dates have advanced to the point where demand is increasing, due to the fact that this category advanced quickly last year when demand did not materialize. Similarly, Mr. Oppenheim expects to see advancements in family-based 2A category dates until sufficient demand materializes.
Impact of New “Filing Dates”
The initial data does not indicate that the new “filing dates” process adopted by USCIS will show enough demand to be meaningful. However, Mr. Oppenheim does not expect that we will have better visibility with regard to immigrant visa demand to even out priority date movement in the employment-based immigrant visa categories until April 2016, when USCIS begins requesting visa numbers based on October 2015 filings.