On September 22, 2010, Charles Oppenheim of the Department of State’s (DOS) Visa Office met with the American Immigration Lawyers Association’s (AILA) DC Chapter, where he discussed the Visa Bulletin, family- and employment-based priority dates, and other issues.

According to AILA, Mr. Oppenheim noted that many EB-3 beneficiaries from India and China are now eligible for and applying under the EB-2 category. He said that he does not expect priority dates in the EB-3 category for Indian and Chinese nationals to advance at a pace greater than that experienced during fiscal year (FY) 2010.

Mr. Oppenheim also made the following short-term predictions about the employment-based priority dates:

  • EB-2 and EB-3, China. These two categories are expected to move slowly over the next few months, by one or two weeks at a time.
  • EB-2, India. This category is expected to remain unchanged or to move very slowly forward, by a week or so. This is mainly a result of EB-3 Indian applicants (approximately 60,000 cases pending) “porting” their priority dates into the EB-2 category and thus using visa numbers.
  • EB-3, India. Similarly, this category is expected to move very slowly over the next few months, perhaps by one or two weeks at a time.
  • EB-3, Rest of World (ROW). This category is expected to move slightly forward or to remain unchanged in the November 2010 Visa Bulletin due to the high number of applications waiting for a visa number in this category.
  • E-4, Special Immigrant Religious Workers, may have cut-off dates by the end of this year.

EB-3 “Other Worker” has such a small number of visas (5,000 per year) that it will advance very slowly. As with those in the EB-3 category, many of these cases are at the District Offices, so Mr. Oppenheim does not know the numbers until after moving the cut-off date forward.

AILA reported that Mr. Oppenheim also said that under AC21, EB-1 China/India cases are not currently subject to the per-country limit, because of the crossover in that category of otherwise unused numbers from other countries. This has allowed 5,000-6,000 visa numbers to be allocated to the India and China EB-1 categories when approximately 2,800 would be the normal limit. The remaining unused EB-1 numbers “fall down” into the EB-2 categories, which has allowed approximately 20,000 EB-2 numbers for India and nearly 6,500 for China. The availability of these numbers “fall across” strictly in priority date order, not by country, Mr. Oppenheim noted.

The November 2010 Visa Bulletin is available here.