Charlie Oppenheim's Visa Predictions, September 2018

AILA’s Check-Ins

Each month, the American Immigration Lawyers Association checks in with Charlie Oppenheim, the Department of State’s Chief of the Visa Control and Reporting Division, who gives his visa predictions for the near future. With his expertise, AILA hopes to get a sense of visa trends and projections. The information is most useful to attorneys, but the average reader may be interested in getting a sense of how immigration to the United States is moving.

To see where the Final Action Dates may end up, AILA suggests reviewing the “Dates for Filing” since Oppenheim sets them based on his expectations for Final Action Date movement in 8 to 12 months.

There is also usually lots of recovery at the end of the fiscal year as the new fiscal year’s visa numbers become available, which the October 2018 Visa Bulletin showed as expected.

Family Based Visa Predictions

Oppenheim believes these visa categories will advance modestly or hold steady. Demand from China remains relatively low, but demand from India has “rebounded over the past year.” Oppenheim also expects Mexico family-based visa categories to move faster than normal because demand was much lower than originally expected.

Employment Based Visa Predictions


EB-1 Worldwide and other countries have advanced by 10 months. However, Oppenheim “remains pessimistic” on whether the Worldwide final action date will advance before the end of 2018; he says that there will be no advancement in November, probably will be no movement in December, but expects there to be some movement at the beginning of 2019. Because of high demand, Oppenheim is uncomfortable saying whether or not the category will become current in the upcoming year.

Oppenheim is much more pessimistic regarding EB-1 China and India. He “believes it is ‘almost guaranteed’ the both categories will be subject to a final action date through the fiscal year.”

EB-2 and EB-3

EB-2 and EB-3 Worldwide have returned to current and should remain there into the next calendar year, says Oppenheim. He had expected EB-3 Worldwide to see growth in demand, but it has not.

AILA advises its members to watch EB-2 and EB-3 China. EB-2 China recovered to April 1, 2015, but it will not surpass EB-3 China at June 1, 2015. How these two categories advance (or not) will depend on so-called downgrade demand for EB-3 China. Downgrading is when a petitions opts for a lower preference visa category because it has a more recent final action date or date for filing, meaning the petitioner will be further along in that line and hopefully thereby receiving their visa earlier.

Likewise, AILA has also advised its members to watch EB-2 and EB-3 India categories. Their dates are March 26, 2009 and January 1, 2009, respectively. Depending on the demand for each category, Oppenheim thinks that EB-3 India may surpass EB-2 India at some point in the fiscal year.

EB-3 Philippines and Other Workers Philippines have recovered to June 1, 2017, but Oppenheim does not believe that there will be much of any movement in the categories during the first quarter of the fiscal year.


Although Oppenheim expects that final action dates will have to be imposed on this category sometime in the next year, EB-4 India has returned to current. EB-4 El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras remain at February 15, 2016; Oppenheim is moving this category conservatively to avoid future regression. EB-4 Mexico has recovered to October 22, 2016.

Expiration of EB-4 and EB-5

After September 2018, EB-4 and EB-5 visas will be unavailable unless Congress reauthorizes them. If reauthorized, their current statuses will not have changed.

For More Information

Read AILA’s Check-In with Charlie here.

See last month’s Visa Bulletin.

This blog post does not serve as legal advice and does not establish any client-attorney privilege. Do not take any action based on the information contained in this post without consulting a qualified immigration attorney. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact our legal team directly.

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This information comes from the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA Doc. No. 14071401).

Categories: Immigration News