October 2009 Employment Based Visa Bulletin
The Department of State has just released the new visa bulletin for October 2009 on September 9, 2009.
Last month, cut-off dates for mainland Chinese and Indian nationals applying in the EB-2 category moved forward from October 1, 2003 to January 8, 2005. In addition, the EB-1 category remained current and the EB-3 category remained unavailable.
This month, cut-off dates in the EB-2 category have progressed to March 22, 2005 and January 22, 2005 for mainland Chinese and Indian nationals, respectively. Additionally, the EB-3 category has once again become available. In this category, visa numbers are available for mainland Chinese, whose priority dates are on or before February 22, 2002, and for Indian nationals, whose priority dates are on or before April 15, 2001. As predicted, the EB-1 category still remains current.
The newly available EB-3 visa numbers and jump in EB-2 cutoff dates reflect the arrival of a new fiscal year. This means that at the beginning of October 2009, each source country’s allotted 9,800 visa numbers for employment based categories including EB-1, EB-2, EB-3, EB-4, and EB-5 will be reset by the Department of State.
Fortunately this year, cut-off dates have moved forward. However, this has not always been the case. At the brink of new fiscal years in the past, cut-off dates have actually retrogressed.
This indicates that recent measures implemented by USCIS like premium processing and systematic inquiry procedures have indeed made the application process much more efficient, as reflected by this month’s visa bulletin.
Despite once again becoming available, the EB-3 category is still heavily backlogged. Even though this is a clear improvement from last month, the cutoff dates shown above only provide a mere glimmer of hope. As the most heavily backlogged category, we anticipate that within the next several months, it will once again become unavailable; either that or dates will not vary significantly as the year goes on.
In addition to a progression in employment based cutoff dates, the Legal Immigration Association (LIA) has issued a statement saying that USCIS will open its I-485 backlog data to the public on September 22, 2009. They will publish around 250,000 I-485 cases. USCIS will sort this data into categories such as country of origin, employment based category, priority date, etc.
By reviewing this data, an applicant can clearly determine his/her current status and waiting time. This document should prove very helpful to those anticipating a decision on their applications. Moreover, this database will help the Department of State define future visa bulletins more accurately.
We cannot stress enough that this entire process is very time-consuming and may take anywhere from just a few months to a couple of years. Once you submit an application, we encourage you to diligently follow-up on it. Unfortunately, cut-off dates are out of our hands and we can only hope that USCIS reaches your application in a timely manner. As such, it is imperative to remain patient throughout. Here at Zhang and Associates, P.C., we will certainly do our best to see your application through.
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