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 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 February 2020 Visa Bulletin on January 9, 2020. Oppenheim discussed his predictions for movement in family-based and employment-based preference categories. Final action date movements in the February 2020 Visa Bulletin are largely consistent with the predictions set forth in the January 2020 Visa Bulletin and in the December 2019 "Check-in with DOS Visa Office." A reminder that publicly available immigrant visa data is available at the State Department's website here: Department of State

Family-Based Preference Categories

All F2A categories remain current in February. However, per the January 2020 Visa Bulletin, AILA members should prepare for a final action date to be imposed within the next few months across all F2A categories. As previewed in last month's Check-in and the January 2020 visa bulletin, in February the F4 "Rest of World"Final Action Dates will retrogress due to a dramatic increase in demand for this category, with F4 "Rest of World"retrogressing 7 months to July 1, 2006. AILA Members should expect this date to be held for the next several months.

Employment-Based Preference Categories


In February, the final action date for EB-1 Worldwide (including El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras, Mexico, Philippines, and Vietnam) advances two months to December 1, 2018. Based on currently available information, it remains possible--yet too early to confirm--that this category could become current in the summer of 2020. The final action dates for EB-1 China and EB-1 India continue to hold at May 22, 2017, and January 1, 2015, respectively in February.


Worldwide is current for February 2020. Charlie notes that demand for EB-2 Worldwide numbers continues to trend in such a way that a final action date may be imposed at some point during the second half of FY 2020.


China advances two weeks in February to July 15, 2015, and EB-2 India advances one day to May 19, 2009.


Charlie notes that EB-3 Worldwide and EB-3 Other Workers Worldwide will become subject to a final action date in March 2020. Charlie will determine what that date will be upon receipt of data from USCIS in February 2020. China advances one month to January 1, 2016, in February 2020, slightly widening the final action date spread between EB-3 China's and EB-2 China's final action dates, placing EB-3 China 5.5 months ahead of EB-2 China. Evidence of significant downgrades from EB-2 to EB-3 have not yet materialized, but Charlie continues to watch these categories closely. India advances one week to January 8, 2009, in February 2020, narrowing the gap with EB-2 India, final action date of May 19, 2009, to about four months. The final action date for EB-3 Philippines advances 2.5 months in February 2020, which exceeds the "up to one month" advancement projected in the January 2020 Visa Bulletin. According to Charlie, the reason for this more aggressive advancement was to allow for additional number usage before EB-3 Worldwide becomes subject to a final action date in March 2020. Approximately 36 percent of EB-3 Philippines demand is processed at USCIS, with 64 percent processed at the U.S. Consulate in Manila.


The final action dates for EB-4 Mexico and EB-4 El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras hold at September 1, 2017, and July 1, 2016, respectively in February 2020. Given current demand trends, Charlie expects to impose a final action date for EB-4 India as early as July 2020.


In February 2020, EB-5 China advances one week to December 1, 2014. As applicants are not becoming documentarily qualified as quickly as Charlie might expect, in the future this category may advance more rapidly than previously anticipated. EB-5 India advances 4 months to September 1, 2018, in February 2020, and EB-5 Vietnam advances one week to December 15, 2016.

For More Information:

Read the February 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.

Find us on LinkedIn.

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

Questions for Charlie? Please send your questions to for inclusion in next month's "Check-in with Charlie" column.