The Department of State’s Visa Bulletin for October 2016 was issued this past week. We had some hope that dates would substantially move forward, since October marks the change in the new fiscal year. While there is some positive movement, the movement seems restrained, perhaps due to the State Department’s anticipation of pent-up demand in certain categories. Here are a few points of note in regards to the Employment-Based (EB) categories:
- Good news for the physicians, which we do a lot of work for. The EB-2 World Wide category will again move back to “Current.” Based on comments we’ve seen, this will bear watching through the fiscal year, as there is some chance that the category may retrogress from Current earlier in the next fiscal year.
- EB-1 China and EB-1 India have returned to “Current” for October. This category covers Extraordinary Aliens, Multinational Executives and Managers, and Outstanding Professors and Researchers. The Extraordinary Alien category allows for self-petitioning. Persons who may fit into this category may want to consider taking advantage of the “Current” status in the coming months, as sometime in the year the category may well retrogress again. Notably, when a category is current, it is possible to file a concurrent I-140 and Adjustment of Status application; or in the alternative premium process some types of I-140 applications, and then file the Adjustment of Status. The benefit to this strategy is an employment authorization document and travel document may be available for the pendency for the adjustment application, even if the immigrant visa category later retrogresses.
- EB-3 Worldwide has a Final Action Date of June 1, 2016. While there are indications of pent-up demand, the category will hopefully move forward at least a few weeks to a month each month. Schedule A petitioners (Nurses and Physical Therapists) may want to look at filing sooner than later.
- EB-4 India and EB-4 Mexico returned to current, and we expect this will remain true for the first half of the fiscal year.
- The EB-5 program is up for reauthorization at the end of October. The Visa Bulletin specifically makes note of this.
We are still waiting to hear from USCIS on whether they will apply the Final Action Dates to applications, or accept applications based on the Dates for Accepting Visa Applications Chart. In all likelihood, USCIS will stick with the Final Action Dates table. That’s been their path so far. Unfortunately, the creation of two different charts for the Visa Bulletin has had no impact to date. The Department of State and USCIS are not coordinating as intended by the Administration’s announced immigration reforms. If anything, the process has become more confusing. However, since October bodes a new fiscal year, maybe there is some small chance of change. We can always hope.