August Check-in with Charlie Oppenheim
July 29th, 2020
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 August 2020 Visa Bulletin on July 24, 2020. Oppenheim answered member questions, made general observations, and discussed his predictions for movement in family-based and employment-based preference categories.
There continues to be forward movement in all family-based preference categories and in most employment-based preference categories in August. Because of the reduced processing capacity due to COVID-19, USCIS and DOS are focusing on processing capacity and the applications capable of being filed this fiscal year. According to Oppenheim, there is insufficient time for new I-485 filings to be processed to completion before the end of the fiscal year.
Processing capacity has also been significantly reduced as well at consular posts due to COVID-19. However, Oppenheim predicts that thousands of applications that were started before the pandemic hit could potentially be finalized following a renewed security check and/or upon receipt of a medical exam. This would enable the employment-based annual limits to be reached or approximated. If a furlough of USCIS employees occurs as planned in early August it could possibly have a substantial negative impact on efforts to maximize immigrant visa number usage for FY2020.
Under the current INA guidelines regarding annual limits, Charlie estimates that the FY2021 employment-based annual limit will be at least 250,000.
Family-based Preference Categories:
Recent advancements in family-based preference categories have resulted in high demand. This may lead to a slow-down in advancement of the family dates especially since there is limited processing capacity to finalize these applications. F2A remains current in August across countries and is expected to remain current in September and October. All other Philippines family-based preference categories advance three months in August. In August, F1 Philippines advances to September 1, 2011, F2B Philippines advances to April 1, 2011, F3 Philippines advances to November 15, 2001 and F4 Philippines advances to September 1, 2001.
Family-based preference categories for all other countries will continue to advance two to five weeks in August.
Employment-based Preference Categories:
EB-1 Worldwide (including El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras, Mexico, Philippines, and Vietnam) remains current in August and will remain current through the end of FY2020. The final action date for EB-1 China jumps forward 4.5 months from August 22, 2017 to February 8, 2018. EB-1 India advances 9 months from May 8, 2017 to February 8, 2018. EB-1 China and EB-1 India now have the same final action date. This is because they have both reached their per country limits and are now using "otherwise unused numbers" from the EB-1 category as well as numbers that have fallen from otherwise unused EB-5 numbers. The rest of the world demand is currently insufficient to fully utilize numbers under the Worldwide limit this fiscal year. According to Oppenhiem, there is still potential for forward movement in EB-1 China and EB-1 India in September, but it is unlikely the movement will be as dramatic as in August.
EB-2 Worldwide (including El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras, Mexico, Philippines, and Vietnam) remains current in August and will remain so through the end of the fiscal year. Conversely, EB-2 India holds at July 8, 2009. Oppenheim estimates that there will be a sufficient amount of worldwide demand to reach or approximate the EB-2 annual limit for FY2020.
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) continue to advance rapidly in August. These categories advance almost one year in August from April 15, 2018 to April 1, 2019. This advancement includes over three thousand EB-3 Philippines applications which are eligible to be finalized. EB-3 China jumps forward more than seven months in August from June 22, 2016 to February 15, 2017. EB-3 China Other Workers advances from July 22, 2008 to August 1, 2008. The spread between EB-2 China and EB-3 China widens greatly in August. Now, EB-3 China's final action date is 13 months ahead of EB-2 China. This has the potential to lead to some downgrades to EB-3 China. Additionally, EB-3 India and EB-3 India Other Workers both advance four months in August from June 1, 2009 to October 1, 2009.
EB-4 Worldwide (including China, India, Philippines, and Vietnam) remains current in August. Oppenheim believes it is likely that this category will remain current for the foreseeable future. EB-4 El Salvador Guatemala and Honduras advances two months in August from February 1, 2017 to April 1, 2017. EB-4 Mexico holds at June 15, 2018.
EB-5 Worldwide (including El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras, Mexico, and Philippines) Regional and Non-Regional Centers will remain current into the next fiscal year. EB-5 India (Regional and Non-Regional Centers), which became current in July will remain current in August and for the foreseeable future. EB-5 China (Regional and Non-Regional Centers) advances two weeks in August from July 22, 2015 to August 8, 2015. Furthermore, EB-5 Vietnam (Regional and Non-Regional Centers) advances two months and one week from May 15, 2017 to July 22, 2017. Oppenheim hopes that this will maximize number usage in this category.
Diversity Visa Lottery:
It is important to note that the limitation of immigrant visa processing along with the impact of Presidential Proclamation 10014 will result in large numbers of FY2020 DV lottery winners being unable to process immigrant visas by the end of FY2020.
Consular Re-openings and Resumption of Immigrant Visa Processing
DOS announced that beginning July 15, 2020, consular posts could resume routine visa services on a basis determined by each post. The re-opening of posts and services provided will vary. View www.travel.state.gov for post-specific updates.
For More Information:
View publicly available immigrant visa data on the State Department's website 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).