Update from Charlie Oppenheim on Immigrant Visa Availability

UnknownCharlie talked with the American Immigration Lawyers Association again at the end of March.  Here are some updates that he gave on potential movements of priority dates in the future.   To summarize:  EB-1 usage is high, not a lot of movement.  EB-2 usage is normal so steady movement.  For more details, see below.

Data Used By Charlie and Possible Changes in Dates

First, in order to better understand how Charlie determines movement on a monthly basis, it is good to know what data sources he uses.  First, Charlie will look at the performance of each category over recent months (visas used, movement on dates, etc.).  In addition, Charlie will also use data given to him from USCIS on the number of cases pending at the National Benefits Center and at local offices (please do note that this data is often not totally accurate).  Following an early April 2019 meeting at the National Benefits Center, Charlie will have additional data upon which to base the Final Action Dates in the May 2019 Visa Bulletin. If that data demonstrates shifts in the demand trends, Charlie may alter his projections for Final Action Date movements through the second half of the fiscal year.

Family-Based Preference Categories

According to Charlie, movements in the family-based preference categories will remain consistent with those in recent visa bulletins. However, he cautions that we should not get too accustomed to consistent rapid forward movement in these categories.  The issue is that Charlie feels that the lack of apparent demand in many of these categories, which is causing the dates to advance more quickly than usual, may eventually result in a great amount of demand materializing all at once. If this were to occur, it could result in an abrupt retrogression and lead to volatility in some categories.  In particular, there has been unusually rapid movement in FB-3 and FB-4 Philippines, each of which advance six months in the April 2019 Visa Bulletin. Those who practice heavily in the area of family-based immigration should consult “Section D. Final Action Date Movement” on page 8 in the visa bulletin for more details on Final Action Date movements.

Employment-Based Preference Categories


Reported demand levels across all countries in the EB-1 category remains high. In absolute terms, EB-1 has used more total visa numbers this fiscal year than any other employment-based category, with usage up to 25% higher than that of EB-2, and EB-3. The increased demand for EB-1 Worldwide numbers is negatively impacting EB-1 China and EB-1 India, which in the past have normally benefitted from the availability of otherwise unused EB-1 numbers from other countries.

According to Charlie, do not expect any movement for EB-1 China and EB-1 India Final Action Dates. Movement for both is only possible if EB-1 Worldwide demand slows down to a sufficient level that would allow otherwise unused numbers to be allocated to these countries.  Charlie is watching the demand trends in this category very carefully. He cannot yet conclude whether this elevated demand represents a bubble that will be processed and then quickly dissipate, or whether it represents an ongoing consistent demand trend.

EB-2 Worldwide:

Charlie mentioned that only about half of the EB-2 Worldwide numbers for this fiscal year have been used, which is approximately where he would like that number to be. If the current demand trend continues, EB-2 Worldwide should remain current throughout the FY2019.

EB-2 and EB-3 India Remain Flipped:

According to Charlie the same movement patterns as the past couple of months are expected for the foreseeable future (he will update if this changes).  EB-2 advanced only 3 days in the April Bulletin and EB-2 advanced a full month, surpassing EB-2 India.

EB-2 and EB-3 China:

In contrast to India, EB-2 China remains ahead of EB-3 China. In April 2019, EB-2 China advances three months to a Final Action Date of April 1, 2016, and EB-3 China advances three weeks to a Final Action Date of August 1, 2015. Like India, these trends are expected to continue for the foreseeable future.

EB-3 Philippines:

Rapid advancement continues for EB-3 Philippines in April, as the category leaps forward three months for a Final Action Date of March 1, 2018.  Although a continuing lack of demand will create additional forward movement, be cautioned to not expect this rapid advancement to continue indefinitely.


Please remember, as always, this blog does not offer legal advice. If you need legal advice, consult with a lawyer instead of a blog. Thank you.

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