For EB2 category movement (Aug - Dec 2013), please click here: http://blog.mygcvisa.com/2013/06/eb2-india-prediction-2013-2014.html
For USCIS/DOS prediction for Aug-Oct 2013 VB, please click here: http://blog.mygcvisa.com/2013/06/uscis-prediction-for-august-to-october.html
Q. Why did the dates move 5-7 months in many EB3 categories?
A. As we mentioned in few earlier posts, visa allocation is simply a matter of supply and demand. The supply is fixed at around 140,000 per year + any spillover from FB category (which is 18,000 this year).
The demand however is NOT fixed. It changes every day and due to many factors involved, the future demand cannot be predicted (maybe except that it will keep growing). Based on latest PERM application filings, demand is 20% higher than last year.
The I-485 pending inventory gives an idea about how much demand is currently there for various EB categories. It does not include consular processing cases which is about 25%-30% (changes every year).
Currently the I-485 pending inventory has data for EB3 categories till Aug 2007 only. Since EB3ROW reached July 2007 in April 2013 VB, USCIS/DOS has no idea what the demand is after Aug 2007. Hence to find out this demand USCIS/DOS has started moving dates forward.
Q. Why are dates been moved so aggressively?
A. USCIS/DOS allocates visa quarterly. EB3ROW gets 40,040 of 140,000 total visas. Hence every quarter it gets allotted 10,010 visas. Since USCIS/DOS do not currently know how many applicants would be filing I485 applications after Aug 2007 PD, it is creating a "pipeline" of cases. Some cases are processed faster than others by USCIS. Hence to reduce delay and make sure that all available visas are allotted by Sept 30 (end of fiscal year), it is going to aggressively move dates for next few visa bulletins.
Q. How long would USCIS/DOS continue to aggressively move dates for EB3ROW?
A. As long as it takes to allot all available visas. Rough estimate is:
May 2013 VB: 5 months
June 2013 VB: 9 months
July 2013 VB: 5-6 months (expected)
Aug & Sept VB: TBD
If USCIS receives enough cases to fill the allotted quota by (say) Aug 2013 VB, it will stop moving dates forward (or can even retrogress dates to make sure allotted visas count stays within the permissible limits).
Q. What about the processing time?
A. The current I-485 processing time at NSC is 4 months. However it is over 8 months at TSC. It is possible that the processing time in last quarter could increase for everyone due to following factors:
1. Large number of applicants in EB3ROW category (12,000+)
2. Large number of applicants in EB2 India due to huge EB and FB spillovers in last quarter (15,000+)
3. Due to sequester cuts, many other government department budget has been cut. As we mentioned earlier, USCIS would not be affected by sequester cuts.
4. These are in addition to thousands of application they usually process.
Q. My H1B application is expiring in few months. Should I wait or renew H1?
A. Depending on dates, we would recommend renewing H1B application. If your PD is after Aug 2007 then you would not currently have EAD. The current I485 processing time is 4-8+ months from the date you file I-485 application. If your H1B expires before the I485 is processed, then you would be out of status. Hence it is recommend to renew the H1 application.
If you have EAD approved (which takes about 3 months from the date I485 is filed) then you can fall back on EAD if H1B expires. Remember some applications take longer than others.
Did you know: The I485 pending inventory have about 27 cases pending which were filed in 1997.
Q. What about EB3 India and EB3 Philippines?
A. According to I485 pending inventory, USCIS already knows the demand till Aug 2007. Since the demand is already known, USCIS/DOS can accurately predict how far each of these countries would move in the next few VB.
EB3 Philippines have pretty much the same demand every month (about 300). Hence it is likely to move at rate of one week per month. It could move by 2-3 weeks when the FB spillover is applied.
EB3 India also have demand of about 800 per month. However many people are porting from EB3 to EB2 at rate of around 300 per month. Hence EB3 India would continue to move forward at rate of 1-2 weeks every month.
Remember each country in EB categories can get maximum of 7% of total visas. Hence EB3 Philippines can get max of 7% of 40,040 = 2802 per YEAR.
Q. What about EB3 Mexico and EB3 China?
A. Based on current available data, EB3 Mexico and EB3 China would continue to have same cutoff dates as EB3ROW. It is likely than EB3 China would move ahead of EB2 China in few months.
Q. What would happen in October 2013 VB?
A. October 2013 VB would be start of new fiscal year. Most likely the forward movement in EB3ROW would stop and it is likely that dates could retrogress (if demand is very high from May 2013 to September 2013).
The reason is that in October 2013 VB, USCIS/DOS can only give out 10,040 visas for that quarter in EB3ROW. Hence if demand is much higher than this supply, then dates could retrogress. If demand is less than 10,040, then dates would continue to move ahead.
Update (May 12):
Based on latest data, EB3 ROW could move between 5-6 months in July 2013 VB. EB3 Mexico and EB3 China are also expected to move by 5-6 months.
Update (May 17):
Q. What would happen if EB3 ROW (Mexico and China) retrogresses after filing I-485 application?
A. These categories could retrogress if demand is more than supply (which is likely). USCIS and DOS is building a "pipeline" of cases to get a good estimate of pending demand for this quarter and next quarter. If dates retrogress you still have two advantages: (a) You will have EAD/AP card (if you included those forms during application and (b) your case could be preadjudicated.
Even if EB3ROW retrogress, it would start moving forward from fiscal year 2014 (which starts from Oct 1, 2013). So your PD could again become current. So consider this retrogression as temporary (unlike EB2 India where demand every month continue to be more than supply due to porting from EB3 India. Currently the only way EB2 India would move forward is if it gets spillovers from other EB categories, which is likely).
Update (June 15):
Q. When is EB3 ROW (and EB3 Mexico and EB3 China) expected to move forward?
A. If it does not receive any spillovers in Sept VB, these categories should most likely start moving in Oct/Nov 2013. There is a small chance that it could either retrogress or move forward slightly in Sept VB. Please see question below.
Q. Is there a possibility of spillover from EB2 to EB3 category in FY2013?
A. Remember USCIS cannot assign visas to applicants whose PD is after the VB cutoff dates (even if there are lots of spillovers remaining). In case EB2 India cannot use (approximately 12,000+) spillovers, it will flow to EB2 China. EB2 China will use up remaining spillovers until the cutoff date for EB2 China mentioned in VB. If there are still spillovers remaining then it will flow to EB3 categories.
Due to lag in various USCIS departments, it may take some time to calculate how much visas can flow to EB3 category. If they dont identify unused spillovers before Sept 30, then these visas will be wasted. If spillovers flow to EB3 category then EB3 ROW, EB3 China and EB3 Mexico could finally move ahead in Sept VB.
Q. Is there possibility of any spillover to EB3 India?
A. If EB3 ROW is unable to use all spillovers, it will first be divided equally among all other retrogressed country upto a max of 7%. If there are still any spillovers left, it will go to the most retrogressed country (which is EB3 India). Once EB3 India is same as EB3 Philippines, both these countries will then get equal spillovers.
Update (August 14):
As most of you know, EB3 ROW moved to July 2010 in September 2013 VB (18 months forward movement). DOS moved dates forward because USCIS did not receive enough applications that they were expecting when they had moved dates ahead few months back. In addition, since EB3ROW would not use up all available visas by Sept 30, DOS allotted remaining spillovers to EB3 India and EB3 Philippines. We had mentioned this potential spillovers in blog post above.
For EB3 ROW, Mexico and China: Most likely DOS would decide to hold dates steady in Oct and Nov VB while it builds pipeline of cases. If the demand is much higher, most countries in EB3 categories (except India and Philippines) could retrogress in Nov/Dec VB.
EB3 India and EB3 Philippines could retrogress in Oct VB if enough cases have not been approved by USCIS (compared to spillovers allotted to these categories) by Sept 30. Retrogression could occur in Nov VB (instead of Oct VB), since Oct VB would be released around Sept 10 (and they would still be processing applications and may not have enough data of pending cases with older PD).
Update (October 23):
Due to continued low demand in EB3 ROW and EB3 Mexico, these categories could move forward by around 10-12 months either in December 2013 or January 2014 VB.
Update (March 17, 2014):
The update below is for EB3 ROW, Mexico and China.
1. Visa is typically allocated quarterly. Since we are more than 6 months into fiscal year 2014, in theory, USCIS has already assigned 50% of total quota of EB3 ROW. The quota for the EB3 category is around 40,000 visas. Subtract around 2,800 for each country (India, China, etc). This leaves EB3 ROW, Mexico and China quota around 34,400.
If they have already allocated 50% of visas in last 6 months, we only have a quota of around 17,000 visas for next 6 months.
Per the latest I-485 inventory, EB3 ROW already has over 15,000 pending applications.
2. More importantly, this pending inventory is as of around January 3, 2014. In December 2013 visa bulletin, EB3 ROW date was 01OCT11. Most people with PD after that date would not appear in this latest I-485 pending inventory.
Dates for EB3 ROW in the April 2014 visa bulletin was 01OCT12. Thus thousands of people with PD between 01OCT11 and 01OCT12 do not currently appear in this pending inventory.
It is possible that the current demand (15,000 as per I-485 inventory) + demand for applicant from 01OCT11 and 01OCT12 may be sufficient to meet the remaining available quota of around 17,000. It also does not include applicant (with PD before 01OCT11) who have not yet filed I-485 applications.
Per the earlier comments by Charles Oppenheim (head of visa office), dependents account for 55% of total demand. Hence the actual demand may be higher.
This would explain why they are slowing down (or stopping) further movement of EB3 ROW, Mexico and China.
There is still possibility that they would move dates forward around July 2014 visa bulletin. We would have to wait for more updated data from USCIS/DOS. Retrogression cannot be ruled out based on these numbers.
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