In our continuing series of reports, Charles (“Charlie”) Oppenheim, Chief of the Visa Control and Reporting Division, U.S. Department of State, shares his most recent analysis of current trends and future projections for the various immigrant preference categories with AILA (the American Immigration Lawyers’ Association).

Below are highlights from the most recent “check-in with Charlie” (July 14, 2015), reflecting his analysis of current trends and future projections for the various immigrant preference categories.

HIGHLIGHTS FROM THE AUGUST VISA BULLETIN

EB-3 Update and Significant Retrogression in EB-3 China. In August, EB-3 China will retrogress seven years to June 1, 2004. It initially appeared that there would be unused family-sponsored numbers available in this category, allowing for advances in the cut-off date earlier in the year. But, demand in family-sponsored China has changed drastically, making the availability of additional numbers very unlikely. Another reason for the retrogression is that the advancement of the cut-off date for EB-3 China earlier in the fiscal year generated significant demand within the allowable annual limit. The good news is that this category will likely recover at the start of the new fiscal year, moving back to a 2010 or possibly 2011 cut-off date in October. EB-3 Other Workers will also retrogress two years to January 1, 2004. EB-3 China, EB-3 India and EB-3 Philippines all have the potential to move forward a few months in September, depending on demand for EB-3 Worldwide through early August. Charlie predicts EB-3 Worldwide and EB-3 Mexico will continue to advance in September but may hold steady starting in October for a month or two to see if significant demand from the recent advancement of the cut-off date materializes.

EB-2 India and China. EB-2 India remained unchanged this month as predicted. There is sufficient demand in this category based on the current cut-off date and this date is likely to hold until at least October. Movement would only be possible if there were a significant decline in EB-1 and EB-2 demand from all other countries prior to the determination of the September cut-off dates. This situation is being monitored very closely. EB-2 China moved forward by 2 1/2 months to December 15, 2003. Based on current demand, this date is likely to either move slightly or remain the same for September.

F-2A Worldwide. This category is moving very rapidly and is likely to continue to move rapidly due to a severe lack of demand. This will continue until demand materializes.

MEMBER QUESTIONS

QUESTION 1: What percentage of EB immigrant visa numbers are used by the U.S. Department of State at U.S. consulates versus USCIS?

ANSWER: Approximately 85-87 percent of the EB number usage comes from USCIS filings, with the remaining 13-15 percent consular filings. How that percentage breaks down within specific categories varies. Typically 50 percent of all EB-3 China cases are processed at the consulates while 90 percent of all family-based cases are processed at consulates.

QUESTION 2: Between the two service centers of USCIS – again for EB immigrant visa numbers – what percentage of approvals come from Texas versus Nebraska? I note that right now Nebraska seems to be adjudicating cases that were filed several months later than ones in Texas, meaning that presumably a lot more EB numbers are being used in Nebraska than Texas.

ANSWER: The percentage of visa usage between the two service centers is roughly the same. For this fiscal year through July 13, Texas requested only 1,500 more immigrant visa numbers than Nebraska.

QUESTION 3: I just read June’s check-in and listened to the audio from the AC on the Visa Bulletin with Charlie on the panel. On the panel, he said that he has good information from the posts/DOS on visa applications but not from USCIS, where 85 percent of the employment-based applications are filed for adjustment. Is it possible to get better information from USCIS so the dates for employment categories could become less volatile?

ANSWER: Charlie meets monthly with the CIS Ombudsman and the agencies are in discussion regarding USCIS providing additional data to the Visa Office. No further details are available at this time, other than to say that these meetings continue to provide positive results in the exchange of data. Charlie favors as much data transparency as possible since it enables the Visa Office to better predict immigrant visa demand within each category, enabling the State Department to more effectively manage the cut-off dates. The State Department uses a “qualifying date” system which provides the information required to minimize/prevent erratic movement in the family-sponsored cut-off dates. The National Visa Center uses this system to send out “Agent of Choice” letters requesting that applicants assemble/submit certain required information, based on expected cut-off date movement during a specific period of time. The end result allows for a much more accurate comparison of targeted number use versus the total number of applicants who could be scheduled for final processing, during the determination of the monthly cut-off dates.

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Alka Bahal is a Partner and the Co-Chair of the Corporate Immigration Practice of Fox Rothschild LLP.  Alka is situated in Fox Rothschild’s Roseland, New Jersey office though she practices throughout the United States and at Consulates worldwide. You can reach Alka at (973) 994-7800, or abahal@foxrothschild.com.