September 2018 Visa Bulletin with Commentary

The September 2018 Visa Bulletin was released today. Most notably, EB2 and EB3 worldwide had final action dates imposed and EB2 China and EB2 and EB3 India retrogressed further. All of these dates are expected to return to current or to their August 2018 dates in October. However, contrary to previous visa bulletins, EB1 is now not expected to see much movement until December instead of returning to current in October.  If you are eligible to file and need assistance with filing or if you have any questions about the visa bulletin or these retrogressions, feel free to contact us at info@watsonimmigrationlaw.com.

September 2018

For all countries except India, China, Philippines, and Mexico: F2A category priority date remains 22 July 2016, F2B preference advances 10 days to a PD of 1 November 2011, F4 category advances 17 days to 8 January 2005; EB1 advanced 31 days to 1 June 2016; EB2 retrogresses to 1 January 2013; and EB3 retrogresses 1 November 2016.

For India only:  F2A category remains at the priority date of 22 July 2016, F2B preference advances 10 days to a PD of 1 November 2011, F4 advances 17 days to a PD of 8 April 2004; EB1 remains at a PD of 1 January 2012; EB2 retrogresses to 1 January 2007; EB3 retrogresses to a PD of 1 January 2003.

For China Only: EB1 remains at a PD of 1 January 2012; EB2 retrogresses to a PD of 1 January 2013; EB3 advances 123 days to a PD of 1 November 2014; EB5 Non-Regional Center and Region Center advances 7 days a PD of 8 August 2014.

For Vietnam Only: EB-5 Non-Regional Center and Regional advances 7 days to a PD of 8 August 2014.

Can file your immigrant applications if PD before:

F2A 1 December 2017; F2B 22 March 2014; F4 1 May 2005 for All Areas except India, China, Philippines, and Mexico and 1 January 2005 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 22 May 2009; EB3 India remains at 1 May 2009 EB2 China remains at 1 April 2015; EB3 China remains at 1 January 2016; EB5 China (RC and non-RC) remains at 1 October 2014. Vietnam is not individually listed and should use the all countries category.

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Notes copied from the Department of State regarding Visa availability:

*NOTE: For September, F2A numbers EXEMPT from per-country limit are authorized for issuance to applicants from all countries with priority dates earlier than 01JUL16. F2A numbers SUBJECT to per-country limit are authorized for issuance to applicants chargeable to all countries EXCEPT MEXICO with priority dates beginning 01JUL16 and earlier than 22JUL16. 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, it has been necessary to maintain a September Final Action Date of April 22, 2012.

E.  DETERMINATION OF THE NUMERICAL LIMITS ON IMMIGRANTS REQUIRED UNDER THE TERMS OF THE IMMIGRATION AND NATIONALITY ACT (INA)

The State Department is required to make a determination of the worldwide numerical limitations, as outlined in Section 201(c) and (d) of the INA, on an annual basis.  These calculations are based in part on data provided by U.S. Citizen and Immigration Services (USCIS) regarding the number of immediate relative adjustments in the preceding year and the number of aliens paroled into the United States under Section 212(d)(5) in the second preceding year.  Without this information, it is impossible to make an official determination of the annual limits.  To avoid delays in processing while waiting for the USCIS data, the Visa Office (VO) bases allocations on the minimum annual limits outlined in Section 201 of the INA.  On July 10th, USCIS provided the required data to VO.

The Department of State has determined the Family and Employment preference numerical limits for FY-2018 in accordance with the terms of Section 201 of the INA.  These numerical limitations for FY-2018 are as follows:

Worldwide Family-Sponsored preference limit:    226,000
Worldwide Employment-Based preference limit:  140,292

Under INA Section 202(a), the per-country limit is fixed at 7% of the family and employment annual limits.  For FY-2018 the per-country limit is 25,640.  The dependent area annual limit is 2%, or 7,326.

F.  FAMILY-SPONSORED VISA AVAILABILITY DURING SEPTEMBER

As mentioned in item E of the July Visa Bulletin, the level of applicant demand in several preference categories has been steadily increasing.  This has resulted in the retrogression of the dates for several Family First and Third preference category dates for September.  Such action has been necessary to hold number use within the worldwide annual limits.

The retrogression of the above mentioned family dates will only be temporary and in October, the first month of fiscal year 2019, the final action dates will be returned to (at least) those established for August.

G.  OVERSUBSCRIPTION OF SEPTEMBER EMPLOYMENT-BASED SECOND AND THIRD PREFERENCE CATEGORIES

WORLDWIDE, EL SALVADOR, GUATEMALA, HONDURAS, MEXICO, AND PHILIPPINES EMPLOYMENT-BASED SECOND (E2), Third (E3), and Third Other Worker (EW) PREFERENCES:  As readers were advised in item F of the July Visa Bulletin, there has been an extremely high rate of demand for Employment numbers, primarily for USCIS adjustment of status applicants as a result of the successful implementation of their new interview process. Therefore, pursuant to the Immigration and Nationality Act, it has been necessary to impose E2, E3, and EW Final Action Dates for the month of September with these dates being imposed immediately for new requests for visa numbers.  This action will allow the Department to hold worldwide number use within the maximum allowed under the FY-2018 annual limits.

The implementation of the above mentioned dates will only be temporary and in October, the first month of fiscal year 2019, the final action dates will be returned to those established for August.

Readers were also advised in item F of the July Visa Bulletin that some retrogression might occur prior to the end of the fiscal year. It has been necessary to retrogress the September Final Action Dates for the China Employment-based Second, and India Employment Second, Third, and Third Other Worker preferences in an effort to hold worldwide number use within the maximum allowed under their FY-2018 annual limits.   This will only be temporary and in October, the first month of fiscal year 2019, the final action dates will be returned to those established for August.

H.  VISA AVAILABILITY IN THE COMING MONTHS

FAMILY-sponsored categories (potential monthly movement)

Worldwide dates:

F1: Up to three weeks  (after October recovery)
F2A: Three to five weeks
F2B: Up to six weeks
F3: Three to five weeks (after October recovery)
F4: Up to five weeks

EMPLOYMENT-based categories (potential monthly movement)

Employment First:

WORLDWIDE (all countries):  October Final Action Dates will be imposed for all countries.  Limited, if any forward movement can be expected prior to December.

Employment Second:

Worldwide: Current for the foreseeable future.

China: Slow movement pending receipt of demand from recent advances

India: One or two weeks

Employment Third:

Worldwide:  Current

China: Up to five weeks

India: Slow movement pending receipt of demand from recent advances

Mexico: Current

Philippines: Minimal

Employment Fourth: Current for most countries

El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras:   Little, if any forward movement

Mexico:    Up to three months

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

China-mainland born:  Up to one week

Vietnam:  Steady forward movement

The above final action date projections for the Family and Employment categories indicate what is likely to happen on a monthly basis through January.  The determination of the actual monthly final action dates is subject to fluctuations in applicant demand and a number of other variables.