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March 2017 Visa Bulletin – EB-2 India Moves Forward; EB-3 China Advances Significantly

Home/Articles, EB-2, EB-3, News, News Alert, Visa Bulletin/March 2017 Visa Bulletin – EB-2 India Moves Forward; EB-3 China Advances Significantly

The U.S. State Department has just released the March 2017 Visa Bulletin which is the sixth Visa Bulletin for the FY2017 fiscal year. The headline in the upcoming month’s Visa Bulletin is the significant (six months) forward movement in EB-3 China which continues to create a significant opportunity for EB-2 to EB-3 China downgrades and I-485 filings.    EB-2 India advances slightly as well.

Summary of the March 2017 Visa Bulletin – Employment-Based (EB)

EB Category Mar 2017 Feb 2017 Change
Employment Application Final Action Dates (determines when an I-485 or IV can be approved)
EB-1 Current Current No change
EB-2 ROW, MX, PH Current Current No change
EB-2 India Jun 1, 2008 Apr 15, 2008 Forward by 1.5 months
EB-2 China Dec 15, 2012 Nov 15, 2012 Forward by 1 month
EB-3 ROW Dec 1, 2016 Oct 1, 2016 Forward by 2 months
EB-3 India Mar 22, 2005 Mar 22, 2005 No change
EB-3 China Mar 15, 2014 Oct 1, 2013 Forward by 5.5 months
EB-3 Mexico Dec 1, 2016 Oct 1, 2016 Forward by 2 months
EB-3 Philippines Mar 15, 2012 Oct 15, 2011 Forward by 5 months
Dates for Filing Employment Visa Applications (determines when an I-485 can be filed)
USCIS will determine and announce within a week – please check back.
EB-1 Current Current No change
EB-2 ROW, MX, PH Current Current No change
EB-2 India Apr 22, 2009 Apr 22, 2009 No change
EB-2 China Mar 1, 2013 Mar 1, 2013 No change
EB-3 ROW Current Current No change
EB-3 India Jul 1, 2005 Jul 1, 2005 No change
EB-3 China May 1, 2014 May 1, 2014 No change
EB-3 Mexico Current Current No change
EB-3 Philippines Sep 1, 2013 Sep 1, 2013 No change

Please note that USCIS will determine, about a week after this Visa Bulletin is published, whether or not to accept I-485 filings on the basis of these filing dates. Please see the section below.

Summary of the March 2017 Visa Bulletin – Family-Based (FB)

FB Category Mar 2017 Feb 2017 Change
Family Application Final Action Dates (determines when an I-485 or IV can be approved)
FB-1 ROW, China, India Jun 1, 2010 Feb 22, 2010 Forward by 3 months
FB-1 Mexico May 15, 1995 May 8, 1995 Forward by 1 week
FB-1 Philippines Dec 15, 2005 Dec 1, 2005 Forward by 2 weeks
FB-2A ROW, China, India, Philippines May 8, 2015 Apr 15, 2015 Forward by 3 weeks
FB-2A Mexico Apr 22, 2015 Apr 1, 2015 Forward by 3 weeks
Dates for Filing Family Visa Applications (determines when an I-485 can be filed)
USCIS will determine and announce within a week – please check back.
FB-1 ROW, China, India Jan 1, 2011 Jan 1, 2011 No change
FB-1 Mexico Jun 1, 1995 Jun 1, 1995 No change
FB-1 Philippines May 1, 2006 May 1, 2006 No change
FB-2A ROW, China, India, Philippines Nov 22, 2015 Nov 22, 2015 No change
FB-2A Mexico Nov 22, 2015 Nov 22, 2015 No change

Please note that USCIS will determine, about a week after this Visa Bulletin is published, whether or not to accept I-485 filings on the basis of these filing dates. Please see the section below.

Final Action Dates for EB-3 China Ahead of EB-2 China – Favorable Conditions for Downgrading

Clients and readers who are interested in EB China will note that EB-3 China has a more favorable cutoff date than EB-2 China by about one year (EB-3 China is at March 15, 2014 while EB-2 China is December 15, 2012).   This is similar to what happened in 2014 when EB-3 China was more favorable and when our office handled many cases for Chinese nationals who are EB-2 applicants and who were able to downgrade to EB-3 and file their I-485 adjustment of status.

Here’s how this can work:  in some cases,  an EB-2 China applicant can seek to “downgrade” their preference category, while retaining their priority date, in order to have a current priority date under the EB-3 category and to be able to file their I-485 application.   As a background, many EB-2 PERM Labor Certifications are drafted in a way allowing the subsequent filing of an EB-3 I-140 petition on the basis of the same PERM — thereby retaining the priority date under the EB-3 category.    While it is possible to use a PERM which has already expired if it has been used in support of a previous I-140, a new EB-3 I-140 filing may not be filed under premium processing.  Filing an I-140 under regular processing may take around four to five months and it is entirely possible that by the time an EB-3 I-140 is approved, the EB-3 China cutoff dates may retrogress.

We also caution our clients and readers, especially the China employment-based applicants, that the historic average for an EB-3 China priority date to become current and for a green card under this category to be approved is still significantly higher than the historic average wait time under EB-2.   As a result, even if it is possible that an EB-3 “downgrade” may allow the I-485 filing, we still believe that ultimately, an EB-2 China application would take less time to approve.

Our office is happy to consult applicants who are in this situation and are considering filing under EB-3 to take advantage of the more advanced EB-3 China cutoff dates.   Please contact us if we can help.

Visa Bulletin Predictions – Employment-Based

The March 2017 Visa Bulletin provides some predictions and expectations for movement of visa numbers over the next few months.   Please note that these are short-term predictions and depending on the number of applications as a result of the next few months’ visa numbers, the rate of cutoff date movement may change.

EB-1 Rest of World (ROW).   Expected to remain current.

EB-1 India/China.   Cutoff date is expected by August (expected to be current again on October 1).

EB-2 Rest of World (ROW).  Expected to remain current.

EB-2 India.  Expected to advance by up to four weeks per month.

EB-2 China. Expected to advance by up to five weeks per month.

EB-3 Rest of World (ROW).  Forward movement of up to three months per Visa Bulletin.

EB-3 India.  “Extremely limited” forward movement, if any.

EB-3 China.  Expected to advance by up to six months per month.

EB-3 Mexico.  Expected to match the EB-3 ROW level.

EB-3 Philippines.  Advance by up to six months per Visa Bulletin.

Current Date?

Our office stands ready to assist in the applicable process to take advantage of the significant restructuring in the way the cutoff dates are determined and published.  There are many applicants across many of the employment and family categories who can now process their (and their family members’) I-485 Adjustment of Status applications from within the U.S. or process their immigrant visa at a U.S. Consulate abroad.

Please do not hesitate to contact us if our office can help you take advantage of this (very time-sensitive for some) opportunity to file I-485 applications. We are also happy to provide a free quote for preparing and filing your I-485 application.

Further Updates and News

We invite you to subscribe to our free weekly immigration newsletter to receive timely updates on this and related topics. We also invite you to contact us if our office can be of any assistance in your immigration matters or you have any questions or comments about the March 2017 Visa Bulletin. Finally, if you already haven’t, please consider our Visa Bulletin Predictions tool which provides personalized predictions and charts helping you understand when a particular priority date may become current and what are the movement patterns.

By | 2017-05-20T21:46:59+00:00 February 8th, 2017|Articles, EB-2, EB-3, News, News Alert, Visa Bulletin|

About the Author:

Dimo R. Michailov, Esq.
As one of the senior attorneys and the founding member of the Capitol Immigration Law Group, Mr. Michailov is at the forefront of the immigration law community. He represents individuals from more than 50 countries in their quest for U.S. immigration options and solutions. He also represents companies and organizations ranging from small entrepreneurs to multinational corporations in meeting their goals to recruit, hire and retain talented foreign nationals while maintaining full compliance with the relevant immigration rules and procedures.