The Department of State (DOS) has announced a significant retrogression from the July 2019 Visa Bulletin to the August 2019 Visa Bulletin of at least 3 years in many of the employment-based categories.
- EB-1 retrogresses by almost 2 years for most countries to July 1, 2016, except India, which stays at January 1, 2015;
- EB-2 retrogresses by almost 2 years from being current to January 1, 2017, for all other countries, while China and India advanced a bit to January 1, 2017, and May 2, 2009 respectively; and
- EB-3 retrogresses by almost 3 years from being current to July 1, 2016, for all other countries, while India retrogressed by more than 3 years to January 1, 2006, and China advanced by 6 months to July 1, 2016.
USCIS has decided to implement the dates in the August bulletin now.
Individuals with pending adjustment of status applications can expect to continue in the process. Interviews will be scheduled, but cases will not be finally adjudicated until the priority dates become current again.
Charles Oppenheim, Chief of Visa Control and Reporting Division for the Department of State, generally predicted these retrogressions due to continuing increased demand. The hope is that the dates will return to the July 2019 level when the new fiscal year begins in October 2019.
Each month, to make its determinations for the Visa Bulletin, USCIS and DOS compare the number of visas available for the remainder of the fiscal year (ending September 30) with:
- Documentarily qualified visa applicants reported by DOS;
- Pending adjustment of status application reported by USCIS; and
- Historical drop off rate (for example, denials, withdrawals, and abandonments).
DOS also publishes a “Date for Filing Applications” chart each month. The dates on these charts are more beneficial, but are used only if DOS and USCIS predict that the annual allocation of visas will not be used by the end of the fiscal year. DOS announces each month (about a week after the Visa Bulletin is published) whether the Date for Filing chart can be used. Although the Date for Filing charts have been used occasionally in the past, given the current circumstances, they likely will not be used before the end of this fiscal year.
If you have questions about how this retrogression affects green card strategies, please reach out to your Jackson Lewis attorney.