In a recent conference last week, hosted by the American Immigration Lawyers Association in Monterey, California, Charles Oppenheim, Chief Immigrant Control and Reporting Division of the Department of State, revealed that this coming January 2011, there will once again be retrogression in certain categories of family petitions.
According to him, there was a surge of visa applications in the past few months as a result of the progression. He justified the need for retrogression to meet with the numerical limitations set by law.
The Department of State’s Visa Bulletin for the month of December 2010 indicates which visa numbers are affected by the retrogression.
There are three groups affected by the change.
The first group is the “second preference-B petitions” filed by green card holders on behalf of their single adult children. The visa priority dates under this group retrogressed from September 1, 2002 to March 1, 2000.
The second group affects petitions filed under the “third preference category” by US citizens on behalf of their married children. The priority dates have been moved from March 1, 1995 back to July 1, 1992. This is a retrogression of almost three years.
For siblings of US citizens under the “fourth preference category,” the priority dates have been pulled back from April 1, 1991 to January 1, 1988. This is the group which has the most severe backlog.
Thus, beneficiaries whose petitions were filed after January 1988 will have to wait longer before they are issued their visas.
“First preference” petitions by US citizens on behalf of single unmarried children; and, “second preference-A” petitions by green card holders for their spouses and minor children are fortunately not affected by the recent changes.
What to expect
The retrogression of visa numbers will not begin until the month of December 2010. The National Visa Center and the consular office of the US embassy may still continue to accept applications and supporting documents for visa processing of certain applicants.
Depending on the discretion of the consular officer, applicants may still be issued their visas if all documents are completed and a visa interview is scheduled before November 30, 2010. However, if the processing is not completed by December, the visas can no longer be issued until the priority dates become current once again. When this is going to happen remains to be seen.
Considering the progression and retrogression movement of the priority dates, one can no longer anticipate with reasonable certainty when an immigrant visa will be available.
It may be a matter of time for the Department of State, but to those affected, family unity has become uncertain.