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State Dept. Projects Employment-Based Visa Number Availability in Coming Months


The Department of State’s Visa Bulletin for December 2015 includes information on visa number availability in the coming months.

For the employment fourth preference (certain religious workers) category, the bulletin notes that the non-minister special immigrant (SR) program expires on December 11, 2015. No SR visas may be issued overseas, or final action taken on adjustment of status cases, after midnight on December 10, 2015. Visas issued before that date will only be issued with a validity date of December 10, 2015, and all individuals seeking admission as non-minister special immigrants must be admitted into the U.S. by midnight on December 10, 2015.

For the employment fifth preference (I5 and R5) categories, visas may be issued until the close of business on December 11, 2015, and may be issued for the full validity period. No I5 or R5 visas may be issued overseas, or final action taken on adjustment of status cases, after December 11, 2015.

The bulletin notes that Congress is considering an extension of the SR, I5, and R5 visa categories, “but there is no certainty when such legislative action may occur.” If there is no legislative action extending one or both of these categories, those cut-off dates would become “Unavailable” on December 12, 2015.

The bulletin also notes the following potential monthly movement for employment-based categories in the coming months: 

Employment First: Current

Employment Second:

  • Worldwide: Current
  • China: Forward movement during FY 2015 has resulted in a dramatic increase in demand. Little, if any, movement is likely during the coming months. 
  • India: Up to eight months.

Employment Third:

  • Worldwide: The rapid forward movement during FY 2015 was expected to generate a significant amount of demand for numbers. If such demand fails to materialize in the near future, it will be necessary to begin advancing this cut-off date.
  • China: Rapid forward movement is expected. Such movement will result in increased demand, which will require “corrective” action as early as April.
  • India: Will advance up to three weeks.
  • Mexico: Will remain at the worldwide date.
  • Philippines: Will advance four to six weeks.

Employment Fourth: Current

Employment Fifth: The category will remain “Current” for most countries.

  • China-mainland born: Slow forward movement.

The bulletin notes that the above projections for the employment categories indicate what is likely to happen on a monthly basis through March based on current applicant demand patterns. “Readers should never assume that recent trends in cut-off date movements are guaranteed for the future, or that ‘corrective’ action will not be required at some point in an effort to maintain number use within the applicable annual limits,” the bulletin states. “The determination of the actual monthly cut-off dates is subject to fluctuations in applicant demand and a number of other variables.”

Also, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced recently that for family-sponsored filings, applicants may use the “Dates for Filing Visa Applications” chart in the December bulletin. For employment-based filings, however, USCIS said the “Application Final Action Dates” for December must be used. 

The Visa Bulletin for December 2015 is at http://travel.state.gov/content/visas/en/law-and-policy/bulletin/2016/visa-bulletin-for-december-2015.html.

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