Visa Bulletin projections according to DOS's Charlie Oppenheim

In hopes of obtaining more in-depth analysis and insight into future immigrant visa availability than that provided in the monthly Visa Bulletin, each month the American Immigration Lawyers Association ("AILA") "checks-in" with Charlie Oppenheim, Chief of the Visa Control and Reporting Division, U.S. Department of State (DOS).  From these discussions, AILA can provide practitioners, employers and foreign nationals better projections so all parties can strategize accordingly.  Highlights from the December 2016 discussions include:

  • EB-1: Based on current demand, Charlie predicts that a "final action cut-off date" will need to be imposed for EB-1 India and EB-1 China later this fiscal year.  If this happens, Form I-140 petitions can continue to be filed with USCIS but Form I-485 Adjustment of Status application cannot be filed until the priority date for those preference categories is current.  This could result in several months of delay, as was seen in fall 2016, so applicants who may be affected by this potential retrogression should consider filing their applications as soon as possible. 
  • EB-2 Worldwide: Charlie expects to impose a "final action cut-off date" for EB-2 Worldwide at some point due to sizeable demand.  Lingering demand from cases that otherwise would have been approvable in August and September 2016 is partly responsible for this surge in demand, as are EB-3 India upgrades.
  • EB-2 China: China has already exceeded its EB-2 quarterly limit, so there is unlikely to be any major forward movement.
  • EB-2 India: Charlie continues to hope that EB-2 India will recover to the November 22, 2008 final action date retrogression from May 2015. However, EB-3 upgrades could negatively impact that recovery.
  • EB-3 Worldwide: Demand has declined, allowing Charlie to advance this category slightly in January 2017. However, at some point when EB-2 Worldwide becomes subject to a "final action cut-off date", we may see applicants filing petitions to downgrade from EB-2 to EB-3 which will increase demand.