April 2018 Visa Bulletin with Commentary

The April 2018 Visa Bulletin was recently released. Most notably, EB-1 China and India will retrogress on April 1st. EB-2 and EB-3 China and EB-3 India also saw significant forward movement.

April 2018

For all countries except India, China, Philippines, and Mexico: F2A category priority date advances 40 days to 1 May 2016, F2B preference advances 38 days to a PD of 8 April 2011, F4 category advances 24 days to 15 September 2004; EB1, EB2, and EB3 all remain current.

For India only:  F2A category advances 40 days with the priority date 1 May 2016, F2B preference advances 45 days to a PD of 8 April 2011, F4 advances 14 days to a PD of 15 February 2004; EB1 retrogresses to 1 January 2012; EB2 advances 7 days to a PD of 22 December 2008; EB3 advances 396 days to a PD of 1 February 2008.

For China Only: EB1 retrogresses to 1 January 2012; EB2 advances 236 days to 1 August 2014; EB3 advances 198 days to a PD of 1 June 2015; EB5 Non-Regional Center remains at a PD of 22 July 2014; EB5 Regional Center is currently unavailable.

Can file your immigrant applications if PD before:

F2A 22 September 2017; F2B 1 September 2011; F4 8 March 2005 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 advances to 1 April 2008 EB2 China remains at 1 February 2015; EB3 China remains at 1 January 2016; EB5 China (RC and non-RC) remains at 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 

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Notes copied from the Department of State regarding Visa availability:

*NOTE: For April, F2A numbers EXEMPT from per-country limit are authorized for issuance to applicants from all countries with priority dates earlier than 01APR16. F2A numbers SUBJECT to per-country limit are authorized for issuance to applicants chargeable to all countries EXCEPT MEXICO with priority dates beginning 01APR16 and earlier than 01MAY16. 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 maintain an April 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.  OVERSUBSCRIPTION OF THE CHINA-mainland born AND INDIA EMPLOYMENT-BASED FIRST (E1) PREFERENCE CATEGORIES

There continues to be an extremely high rate of demand for E1 numbers, primarily for USCIS adjustment of status applicants. Pursuant to the Immigration and Nationality Act, it has been necessary to impose E1 Final Action Dates for these two countries, which have already reached their per-country limit. This action will allow the Department to hold worldwide number use within the maximum allowed under the FY-2018 annual limits.

Should the level of worldwide demand for E1 numbers decline, there could be some future movement in this date prior to the end of the fiscal year.

F.  DELAY IN OVERSUBSCRIPTION OF THE VIETNAM EMPLOYMENT FIFTH PREFERENCE CATEGORY

Continued heavy applicant demand had been expected to result in the Vietnam Employment Fifth preference (EB-5) category reaching the per-country annual limit during March. However, the return of unused February EB-5 numbers during the past few days has been much higher than had been expected. This appears to be a direct result of the continuing resolution signed on December 22, 2017 extending the immigrant investor pilot program until January 19, 2018, and the subsequent extension until February 9, 2018.  Uncertainty over category extension greatly delayed the scheduling of February appointments, which would normally have occurred in early January.  As a result, many applicants did not have sufficient advance notice to enable them to appear for their February interview, which could have been expected to result in the use of visa numbers.

The oversubscription of this category will definitely occur for May.

G.  SCHEDULED EXPIRATION OF TWO EMPLOYMENT VISA CATEGORIES

Employment Fourth Preference Certain Religious Workers (SR):

Pursuant to the continuing resolution, signed on February 9, 2018, the non-minister special immigrant program expires on March 23, 2018. No SR visas may be issued overseas, or final action taken on adjustment of status cases, after midnight March 22, 2018. Visas issued prior to this date will only be issued with a validity date of March 22, 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 March 22, 2018.

The final action date for this category has been listed as “Unavailable” for April. If there is legislative action extending this category for FY-2018, the final action date would immediately become “Current” for April for all countries except El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras which would be subject to a December 15, 2015 final action date, and for Mexico which would be subject to an August 8, 2016 date.

Employment Fifth Preference Categories (I5 and R5):

The continuing resolution signed on February 9, 2018 extended this immigrant investor pilot program until March 23, 2018. The I5 and R5 visas may be issued until close of business on March 23, 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 March 23, 2018.

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