As we reported in the March 2012 issue of the Immigration eAuthority, the U.S. Department of State (DOS) announced that, effective March 23, 2012, no further EB-2 category immigrant visas will be authorized for China-mainland born and India applicants with priority dates later than August 15, 2007. On April 23, 2012, the DOS announced that the annual limit for the China-mainland born and India EB-2 categories has in fact been reached and, therefore, no green card applications in these categories will be approved until the beginning of the new fiscal year, which is October 1, 2012.

Factors causing the retrogression and subsequent unavailability of immigrant visas include not only an increase in demand for immigrant visa numbers in the EB-2 category, but also higher demand than in 2011 for visa numbers in the EB-1 (Employment-Based first preference) category. This means that there are fewer, if any, unused EB-1 visa numbers that will “trickle down” to the EB-2 quota. Once the immigrant visa numbers are exhausted for the fiscal year, new immigrant visa numbers are not available until the beginning of the next fiscal year.

The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has confirmed that it will continue to accept  adjustment applications received for aliens with priority dates prior to the dates established in the April and May 2012 Visa Bulletins. However, requests from USCIS service centers and field offices for visas in the China and India EB-2 category will be retained by the DOS for authorization in FY 2013, beginning on October 1, 2012. 

Ogletree Deakins will continue to work with eligible EB-2 Chinese and Indian nationals with current priority dates to ensure that their immigrant visa and adjustment of status applications are filed and received by USCIS by April 30, 2012. Those with priority dates later than the cut-off date specified in the Visa Bulletin will be unable to file until a visa number becomes available.