General: The National Visa Center (NVC) is now sending out requests for payments 8 to 12 months in advance of the priority date becoming current. The NVC had previously been contacting applicants 12 to 18 months in advance. Applicants processing abroad appear to be waiting until their priority date is current, or almost current, to pay the fees.
This could be to avoid the long delay where the visa fees are held without a visa being issued. Once payment is received, it helps the Visa Office confirm the actual demand overseas.
The Visa Office expects to be able to make predictions regarding F2A Rest of World (ROW), EB3 ROW and EB3 China in May (see below) which could be realized in the July Visa Bulletin, or perhaps sooner.
F2A All Countries:
- Demand is starting to catch up. F2A Mexico will retrogress soon and more than the ROW reported dates. It appears that the F2A ROW category will also retrogress, perhaps back to 2012 in the June or July Visa Bulletin.
- Why the retrogression? USCIS seems to be processing more approvals. It is possible that some F2A beneficiaries were holding off on filing for green cards in anticipation of comprehensive immigration reform, and demand is now “catching up” to the posted dates.
- 85% to 95% of these cases are processed at U.S. consulates.
- The CO was not able to confirm whether I-601 processing by USCIS had a positive or negative impact on the demand for visa numbers. The NVC may have that data.
- Demand is down right now, so movement is expected to continue to advance.
- It is likely the same scenario will occur in the next fiscal year that occurred with WW FB-2A. Specifically, that demand will increase as the category is advanced and then there will be high demand, which will reduce forward movement.
EB1 All Countries:
- It is still a little early in the fiscal year to know how many unused cases will drop down into EB2. Though EB1 usage is heavier this year than last year, this category is expected to remain current for this fiscal year.
- This category is expected to remain current for this fiscal year.
- It is possible in August Visa Bulletin (or more likely) in September, that EB2 India will move forward to January 1, 2008 or even later in 2008, in order to utilize the rest of unused EB2 Rest of World numbers.
- The exact spillover will depend on EB1 and EB2 usage in the worldwide categories for the rest of the fiscal year (it could be 5,000 or more). This would be less than what was available in fiscal year 2013.
- The CO has limited knowledge as to the number of eligible applicants, and USCIS has encouraged DOS to move the dates forward over the last 5 months. Demand appears to be increasing, thus, it is unlikely in the short run that the category will move forward. In fact, if current demand continues, something may have to be done as early as May 2014 to slow the demand in this category.
- The last quarter of the fiscal year for 2014 does not look good, and no movement (or retrogression), is possible. EB3 ROW could retrogress as early as June 2014 or July 2014.
- Many Chinese nationals who were waiting in the EB2 category have been filing to “downgrade” from EB-2 to EB-3, and the result of these requests will be reflected in the coming months.
- High demand is expected to continue in this category and a correction may be reflected as early as the May or June Visa Bulletin, depending on demand.
- If F2A China retrogresses because of the F2A ROW retrogression discussed above, the unused FB demand could be used by EB3 China. EB3 China could retrogress as early as May or June, so please file cases now if your priority dates are current. The category may not be available as early as May.
- China EB5 could retrogress later this year, possibly August or September.
- Retrogression for EB5 China in the 2015 fiscal year seems almost inevitable, as there are over 7,000 I-526 applications pending and 80% are from China.
- More on this topic is expected to be known in the next few weeks, and will be shared at an upcoming panel in May with AILA Past-President Bernie Wolfsdorf.