The U.S. Department of State has released its January 2011 Visa Bulletin, which summarizes the availability of immigrant numbers during January. Consular officers are required to report to the Department of State documentarily qualified applicants for numerically limited visas; the USCIS in the Department of Homeland Security reports applicants for adjustment of status.

Immigrant visas have significantly retrogressed for family sponsored preference categories (FB-1 to FB-3), effective with the January 2011 Visa Bulletin. The level of demand for visa numbers in the family sponsored preference categories was very low from early 2009 through September 2010. Accordingly, the cut-off dates for most family preference categories were advanced at a rapid pace, in an apparent attempt to generate demand so the annual numerical limits could be fully utilized. As a result of the accelerated level of demand over the last few months, the State Department has retrogressed most of the worldwide cut-off dates, effective January 1, 2011. For example, the family sponsored preference 2A category (spouse and children of lawful permanent residents) for most countries retrogressed from August 1, 2010, to January 1, 2008. The family sponsored 2B category for most countries retrogressed from June 1, 2005, to April 15, 2003, in the January 2011 Visa Bulletin.

According to the State Department, it is unlikely these categories will recover for some time, since demand for family sponsored preference categories does not appear to be subsiding.

For employment-based immigrant visas, there has been no change to the priority dates. All EB-1 priority dates remain current, and EB-2 priority dates are current for foreign nationals from all countries, except China and India. The priority date cut-off for Chinese nationals in January is June 22, 2006 (advanced by two weeks from December 2010), and the priority date cut-off for Indian nationals in January is May 8, 2006 (no movement). There is a continued backlog for foreign nationals from all countries in the EB-3 category, most notably:

  • China: December 15, 2003 (forward movement of one week)
  • India: February 1, 2002 (forward movement of one week)
  • Mexico: April 15, 2003 (forward movement of nine-and-one-half months)
  • Philippines: March 22, 2005 (forward movement of one month)
  • Rest of the World: March 22, 2005 (forward movement of one month)