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” (January 22, 2020), reflecting his analysis of current trends and future projections for the various immigrant preference categories.

This month, Charlie’s comments on the first quarter of this fiscal year are limited due to insufficient data, but we look forward to more specific predictions on demand trends and date movement in the coming months.

Check-in with DOS’s Charlie Oppenheim:  January 22, 2020

Family-based Preference Categories

All F2A categories remain current in February. However, per the January 2020 Visa Bulletin, AILA members should prepare for a final action date to be imposed within the next few months across all F2A categories.

As previewed in the January 2020 visa bulletin and evident in the February Bulletin, the F4 “Rest of World” Final Action Dates will retrogress due to a dramatic increase in demand for this category, with F4 “Rest of World”retrogressing seven months to July 1, 2006.

Employment-based Preference Categories

EB-1:  In February, the final action date for EB-1 Worldwide (including El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras, Mexico, Philippines, and Vietnam) advances two months to December 1, 2018. Based on currently available information, it remains possible–yet too early to confirm–that this category could become current in the summer of 2020.  The final action dates for EB-1 China and EB-1 India continue to hold at May 22, 2017, and January 1, 2015, respectively in February.

EB-2:  EB-2 Worldwide is current for February 2020.  Charlie notes that demand for EB-2 Worldwide numbers continues to trend in such a way that a final action date may be imposed at some point during the second half of FY2020.  EB-2 China advances two weeks in February to July 15, 2015, and EB-2 India advances one day to May 19, 2009.

EB-3:  Charlie notes that EB-3 Worldwide and EB-3 Other Workers Worldwide will become subject to a final action date in March 2020.  Charlie will determine what that date will be upon receipt of data from USCIS in February 2020.  EB-3 China advances one month to January 1, 2016, in February 2020, slightly widening the final action date spread between EB-3 China’s and EB-2 China’s final action dates, placing EB-3 China 5.5 months ahead of EB-2 China.  Evidence of significant downgrades from EB-2 to EB-3 have not yet materialized, but Charlie continues to watch these categories closely.  EB-3 India advances one week to January 8, 2009, in February 2020, narrowing the gap with EB-2 India, final action date of May 19, 2009, to about four months.  The final action date for EB-3 Philippines advances 2.5 months in February 2020, which exceeds the “up to one month” advancement projected in the January 2020 Visa Bulletin.  According to Charlie, the reason for this more aggressive advancement was to allow for additional number usage before EB-3 Worldwide becomes subject to a final action date in March 2020.  Approximately 36 percent of EB-3 Philippines demand is processed at USCIS, with 64 percent processed at the U.S. Consulate in Manila.

EB-4:  The final action dates for EB-4 Mexico and EB-4 El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras hold at September 1, 2017, and July 1, 2016, respectively in February 2020.  Given current demand trends, Charlie expects to impose a final action date for EB-4 India as early as July 2020.

EB-5:  In February 2020, EB-5 China advances one week to December 1, 2014.  As applicants are not becoming documentarily qualified as quickly as Charlie might expect, in the future this category may advance more rapidly than previously anticipated.  EB-5 India advances 4 months to September 1, 2018, in February 2020, and EB-5 Vietnam advances one week to December 15, 2016.

You may access the January 2020 Visa Bulletin here and the February 2020 Visa Bulletin here.