February 2018 Visa Bulletin

The February 2018 visa bulletin was recently released. Most notably, EB5 Regional Center visas are currently unavailable. The immigrant investor pilot program was extended through January 19, 2018. If there is legislative action that extends the program beyond January 19, 2018, the final action date will become current for all countries other than China and July 22, 2014 for Chinese citizens. Additionally, there was significant movement forward in the EB3 China category. Additionally significant movement forward is expected in the EB2 and EB3 China categories in the coming months.

February 2018

For all countries except India, China, Philippines, and Mexico: F2A category priority date advances 29 days to 1 March 2016, F2B preference advances 45 days to a PD of 15 January 2011, F4 category advances 30 days to 22 July 2004; EB1, EB2, and EB3 all remain current.

For India only:  F2A category advances 29 days with the priority date 1 March 2016, F2B preference advances 45 days to a PD of 15 January 2011, F4 advances 24 days to a PD of 8 January 2004; EB1 remains current; EB2 advances 16 days to a PD of 8 December 2008; EB3 advances 30 days to a PD of 1 December 2006.

For China Only: EB1 returns to current; EB2 advances 54 days to 1 October 2013; EB3 advances 153 days to a PD of 15 September 2014; EB5 Non-Regional Center advance 7 days to a PD of 22 July 2014; EB5 Regional Center is unavailable.

Can file your immigrant applications if PD before:

F2A 1 November 2016; F2B 1 September 2011; F4 15 November 2004 for All Areas except India, China, Philippines, and Mexico and 22 June 2004 for India

EB1 is current for all countries; EB2 All Countries except India and China are current; EB3 All countries except China, India, and the Philippines are current; EB2 India remains at 8 February 2009; EB3 India remains at 1 January 2008 EB2 China remains at 15 November 2013; EB3 China advances to 1 January 2016; EB5 China (RC and non-RC) retrogresses to 1 September 2014.

*If you have any questions or comments, you are welcome to get in touch with us. Please email us at info@watsonimmigrationlaw.com 

**Copyright 2017 by Watson Immigration Law. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Notes copied from the Department of State regarding Visa availability:

*NOTE: For February, F2A numbers EXEMPT from per-country limit are authorized for issuance to applicants from all countries with priority dates earlier than 01FEB16. F2A numbers SUBJECT to per-country limit are authorized for issuance to applicants chargeable to all countries EXCEPT MEXICO with priority dates beginning 01FEB16 and earlier than 01MAR16. All F2A numbers provided for MEXICO are exempt from the per-country limit.

D.  SPECIAL IMMIGRANT (SI) TRANSLATOR CATEGORY VISA AVAILABILITY

Given the limited availability of visa numbers and the existing demand, the Department expects to reach the FY-2018 annual limit of 50 Special Immigrant Visas in the SI category early this year. As a result, it has been necessary to establish a February Final Action Date of April 22, 2012. It is likely that number use will require the SI category to become “unavailable” in the coming months. Once the annual limit of 50 visas is reached, further issuances in the SI category will not be possible until October 2018, under the FY-2019 annual limit. The SQ Special Immigrant Visa category for certain Iraqi and Afghan nationals employed by or on behalf of the U.S. government in Iraq or Afghanistan is not affected and remains current.

E.  SCHEDULED EXPIRATION OF TWO EMPLOYMENT VISA CATEGORIES

Employment Fourth Preference Certain Religious Workers (SR):

Pursuant to the continuing resolution, signed on December 22, 2017, the non-minister special immigrant program expires on January 19, 2018. No SR visas may be issued overseas, or final action taken on adjustment of status cases, after midnight January 18, 2018. Visas issued prior to this date will only be issued with a validity date of January 18, 2018, and all individuals seeking admission as a non-minister special immigrant must be admitted (repeat, admitted) into the U.S. no later than midnight January 18, 2018.

The final action date for this category has been listed as “Unavailable” for February. If there is legislative action extending this category for FY-2018, the final action date would immediately become “Current” for February for all countries except El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras which would be subject to a December 1, 2015 final action date, and for Mexico which would be subject to a June 22, 2016 date.

Employment Fifth Preference Categories (I5 and R5):

The continuing resolution signed on December 22, 2017 extended this immigrant investor pilot program until January 19, 2018. The I5 and R5 visas may be issued until close of business on January 19, 2018, 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 January 19, 2018.

The final action dates for the I5 and R5 categories have been listed as “Unavailable” for February. If there is legislative action extending them for FY-2018, the final action dates would immediately become “Current” for February for all countries except China-mainland born I5 and R5 which would be subject to a July 22, 2014 final action date.

F.  VISA AVAILABILITY IN THE COMING MONTHS

FAMILY-sponsored categories (potential monthly movement)

Worldwide dates:

F1: Up to one month
F2A: Three to five weeks
F2B: Three to six weeks
F3: Up to five weeks
F4: Up to three weeks

EMPLOYMENT-based categories (potential monthly movement)

Employment First: The category will remain “Current” for all countries for the next several months.

Employment Second:

Worldwide: Current
China: Several months
India: Up to two weeks

Employment Third:

Worldwide:  Current
China: Up to five months
India: One to three months
Mexico: Current
Philippines: Up to one month

Employment Fourth: Current for most countries

El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras:  Up to three weeks

Mexico:  Some forward movement

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

China-mainland born:  Little if any forward movement.

Vietnam:  Will become subject to a final action date no later than April.  The China-mainland born and Vietnam Employment Fifth preference dates would be the same.

The above final action date projections for the Family and Employment categories indicate what is likely to happen on a monthly basis through April and May based on current applicant demand patterns.  Readers should never assume that recent trends in final action 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 determination of the actual monthly final action dates is subject to fluctuations in applicant demand and a number of other variables.