Check-in with DOS's Charlie Oppenheim

Check-in with DOS's Charl…

AILA's Department of State (DOS) Liaison Committee checks in each month with Charlie Oppenheim, the Chief of the Visa Control and Reporting Division at DOS for updates about Visa Bulletin progress. Oppenheim also provides an analysis of current trends and predicts future visa availability. His predictions of Final Action Date movement are based on his analysis of movement in each category over recent months and cases that are currently pending at the USCIS National Benefits Center. AILA posted the most recent check-in about the May 2020 Visa Bulletin on April 28, 2020. Oppenheim discussed his predictions for movement in family-based and employment-based preference categories. Due to COVID-19, Oppenheim was not able to pull statistics on visa number usage in real-time during this month's conversation with AILA's DOS Liaison Committee. So, this month's projections are less nuanced than usual. However, he was still able to provide some valuable insight as well as answer some questions.

How does COVID-19 Impact How the Visa Bulletin is Prepared?

This month, the visa bulletin was issued later than usual. Despite the unprecedented impact that the COVID-19 pandemic has had on immigrant visa processing, Oppenheim reassured AILA that he and his staff are continuing to follow the same methodology in analyzing supply, demand, and number usage and determining the information for the Final Action Date and Dates for Filing charts.

Oppenheim advises practitioners to monitor this website for official announcements regarding processing, as well as the USCIS website. The worldwide suspension of immigrant visa processing is a unique situation that has never been experienced before. The most similar situation occurred after September 11, 2001, but the impact of this only lasted for a short period of time in contrast with the longer period of time that is expected to come with COVID-19. Oppenheim expects posts to reopen at different speeds and with varying degrees of consular services available depending on each situation.

Family-based Preference Categories:

In May 2020, Final Action Dates in the family-based preference categories continued to advance consistent with the advancements in April 2020 and March 2020. Oppenheim foresees that the family-based preference categories will continue to advance consistent with recent projections.

In May, F2A remains current while all other categories advanced between 7 weeks and 6 months. F1 Worldwide (including F1 China and F1 India) advanced 7 weeks from January 1, 2014 to March 22, 2014. F1 Mexico advanced 1 month from September 22, 1997 to October 22, 1997. F2B Worldwide (including F2B China and F2B India) advanced 2.5 months this month from November 1, 2014 to January 15, 2015. F2B Mexico advanced 1.5 months from December 1, 1998 to January 15, 1999. F3 Worldwide (including F3 China and F3 India) advanced 1.5 months in May 2020 from February 1, 2008 to March 15, 2008 and F3 Mexico advanced one month from May 8, 1996 to June 8, 1996. F4 Worldwide (including F4 China) advanced 3 weeks from July 1, 2006 to July 22, 2006. F4 India advanced 2 weeks from December 22, 2004 to January 8, 2005, and F4 Mexico advanced one month from March 15, 1998 to April 15, 1998.

Employment-based Preference Categories:

EB-1:

EB-1 Worldwide (including El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras, Mexico, Philippines, and Vietnam) returned to current in May 2020. Any unused numbers will be allocated to applicants with the earliest priority dates, which will predominantly impact EB-1 India. The final action date for EB-1 China advanced 5 weeks from June 8, 2017 to July 15, 2017. The final action date for EB-1 India advanced 3 months from May 1, 2015 to August 1, 2015.

EB-2:

EB-2 Worldwide (including El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras, Mexico, Philippines, and Vietnam) remains current. Additionally, EB-2 China advanced one month and EB-2 India advanced eight days.

EB-3:

EB-3 Worldwide (including El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras, Mexico, Philippines, and Vietnam) and EB-3 Worldwide other Workers (including El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras, Mexico, Philippines, and Vietnam) is at January 1, 2017 in May 2020. Furthermore, EB-3 China advanced 1 month and EB-3 China Other Workers advanced two weeks. EB-3 China's final action date is now 7.5 months ahead of EB-2 China, continuing to widen the gap between EB-2 China and EB-3 China. EB-3 India and EB-3 India Other Workers advanced 5 weeks.

EB-4:

EB-4 Worldwide (including China, India, Philippines, and Vietnam) remains current in May. The final action date for EB-4 El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras advanced one month. This advancement is due to lower demand than expected. Also because of this lower demand, EB-4 Mexico advanced more quickly in May, moving 13 weeks ahead from January 22, 2018 to May 1, 2018.

EB-5:

EB-5 Worldwide (including El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras, Mexico, and Philippines), Regional and Non-Regional Centers, remains current this month. The final action date for EB-5 China (Regional and Non-Regional Centers) advanced 2 months. EB-5 India advanced 9 months, while EB-5 Vietnam advanced 7 weeks.

For More Information:

Publicly available immigrant visa data is available at the State Department's website here.

Read the May 2020 Visa Bulletin here and our blog post about it here.

This blog post does not serve as legal advice and does not establish any client-attorney privilege. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact our legal team directly.

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

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