Each month, the U.S. Department of State publishes the Visa Bulletin, listing all "preference" categories and states whether or not a backlog exists for each one. For March 2019, there continues to be a worldwide backlog for all applicants for the EB-1 "Priority Worker" preference category. As in previous months, the final action dates remain steady. This means that only those who filed Form I-140 on or before the date given in the Visa Bulletin are able to file for or be granted permanent resident status. The listed date for all countries other than China and India in the EB-1 category is January 1, 2018. China and India are backlogged to February 22, 2017, meaning that only those applicants whose I-140 was filed on or before that date are able to file Form I-485 to become permanent residents, or if their I-485 applications are already pending, to be approved. DOS predicts that there will be little movement in first quarter of 2019 for EB-1 China, EB-1 India and EB-1 Worldwide. Based on the information provided by USCIS, it appears that there is sufficient EB-1 demand to reach the annual limits this year, which would prevent EB-1 Worldwide from returning to “current” status on October 1, 2019, the start of the government’s new fiscal year.
While, in the EB-2 preference category, there is currently no backlog for the worldwide numbers (except for China and India). China EB-2 numbers are backlogged to January 1, 2016 and India EB-2 is backlogged to April 9, 2009. EB-2 India and EB-3 India according to the Final Action Date Chart are almost identical which is a significant turn of events as traditionally the EB-3 category has a much longer backlog. Some employers may want to consider “downgrading” their Indian employees from EB-2 to EB-3 in the near future if EB-3 continues to move more quickly.
These backlogs may require employers or immigrants to extend H-1B, O-1, and other nonimmigrant categories until such time that visa numbers do become available, so it is strongly advised to plan accordingly and to allow enough time so that no gap exists which could affect the ability of the applicant to work in the United States and/or travel abroad. We will be checking each month to monitor the Visa Bulletin and will provide updates.
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