Yesterday our office attended a American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) discussion session here in Washington, DC with Charles Oppenheim. Mr. Oppenheim is the Chief of the Visa Control and Reporting Division at the U.S. Department of State. For many, he is simply known as the person responsible for the monthly and annual visa number allocations for family- and employment-based green cards. He is also the person who prepares and publishes the monthly visa bulletin which is highly anticipated every month.
We are asked on a daily basis by our clients to provide visa bulletin predictions and when a particular priority date may become current. As a result, on behalf of our clients, we appreciate the opportunity Mr. Oppenheim has afforded us to get some advance sense of the movement of the priority dates.
General Visa Number Trends
Mr. Oppenheim noted that in the employment-based context, each green card application case is larger than previously expected (because many primary beneficiaries have married and have children). As a result, and in recognition of the fact that many EB-3 India and China candidates are now eligible for and applying under the EB-2 category, Mr. Oppenheim noted that the employment-based visa numbers are expected to remain oversubscribed and to move slowly forward.
With respect to family-based cases, Mr. Oppenheim noted that the demand, especially in the FB2 category has been much lower than anticipated and as a result the FB2 category has noted significant forward movement over the past few months and that this aggressive forward movement is expected to continue. Mr. Oppenheim that the FB2A forward movement is unprecedented and provides a rare opportunity to file family-based green card applications
Visa Bulletin Predictions – Employment-Based
Mr. Oppenheim was able to provide some predictions and expectations for movement of visa numbers over the next few months. Please note that these are short-term predictions and depending on the number of applications as a result of the next few months’ visa numbers, the rate of cutoff date movement may change.
EB-3 Rest of World (ROW). This category is expected to move very slightly forward or to remain unchanged in the November 2010 visa bulletin. The reason is the high number of applications waiting for a visa number in this category.
EB-3 China and EB-2 China. These two categories are expected to move slowly over the next few months – by one or two weeks at a time for the next few visa bulletins.
EB-3 India. Similarly, this category is expected to move very slowly over the next few visa bulletins — perhaps 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) in the short-term. This is mainly caused by the fact that many EB-3 India applicants (there are approximately 60,000 EB-3 India pending cases) are “porting” their priority dates into the EB-2 India category and are thus taking visa numbers.
Visa Bulletin Predictions – Family-Based
Mr. Oppenheim was also able to provide some predictions and expectations for movement of the family-based visa numbers over the next few months. Unlike the employment-based visa numbers, which are expected to advance very slowly over the next few months, the family-based visa numbers, especially in the 2A category are expected to continue to advance consistently and relatively quickly.
FB 2A. According to Mr. Oppenheim, this family-based category has shown a very low demand over the past months; accordingly, Mr. Oppenheim expects that the 2A category (spouses and children of permanent residents) will continue to move forward aggressively and by the February 2011 visa bulletin, this category may be current or close to being current.
FB 2B. Similarly, movement in the 2B category has been faster than anticipated due to low demand; accordingly faster forward movement in this category is also expected.
Mr. Oppenheim’s comments are extremely helpful to get a sense of the visa cutoff dates over the next few months. Although our employment-based clients may be disappointed by the slow forward movement which is expected, our family-based clients should consider preparing and filing family-based applications, especially in the FB2A and FB2B categories which are expected to note significant forward movement in the near future.