November 2009 Employment Based Visa Bulletin
The Department of State has just released the new visa bulletin for November 2009 on October 9, 2009.
Last month, cut-off dates in the EB-2 category moved forward to March 22, 2005 and January 22, 2005 for mainland Chinese and Indian nationals, respectively. For the start of the new fiscal year, the EB-3 category once again became available, allotting visa numbers to mainland Chinese nationals whose priority dates are on or before February 22, 2002, and for Indian nationals whose priority dates are on or before April 15, 2001. Last month, the EB-1 category remained current.
Based on the November 2009 visa bulletin, the EB-2 category moved forward ten days to April 1, 2005 for mainland Chinese nationals and remained unchanged from last month for Indian nationals. This month, EB-3 cut-off dates progressed to June 1, 2002 and April 22, 2001 for Chinese and Indian nationals, respectively. The EB-1 category this month remained current.
USCIS recently posted a visual chart denoting average processing times around the nation, as well as for each individual service center. Unfortunately, these charts are only current through July 2009. Overall, based on the available information, the nationwide chart denotes that the number of pending I-485 cases is declining, but at a very slow rate, and will more than likely plateau (if it has not already). The number of pending I-485 applications at the Texas Service Center is declining at a rate very similar to the national average. Contrary to this, pending applications at the Nebraska Service Center appear to be on the rise.
Late last month, USCIS released inventory data on its pending employment based visa applications for the very first time. If you are interested in viewing this information, please click here. There are a total of six charts, one general, and five that are country/region specific. For mainland Chinese born applicants who submitted applications in FY-2009, pending I-485 applications in all employment based categories (including EB-1, EB-2, EB-3, EB-4, and EB-5) are significantly less this year as compared to previous ones. This general trend also applies to Indian born applicants as well. Surprisingly, in the EB-2 category, you can see that there are only 9 pending I-485 applications for mainland Chinese nationals and 8 pending I-485 applications for Indian nationals. The significant decrease in pending I-485 cases is a result of limited visa availability; thus, many who received I-140 approval under an EB-2 still cannot file for an I-485. This also effectively tells us that the backlog problem stems not from FY-2009, but from 2005-2007, where USCIS experienced an overwhelming number of applications. Based on the general chart, you can also see that there are relatively few applicants in the EB-1, EB-4, and EB-5 categories.
In the past couple of years, the number of EB-1 applications has greatly increased, partly as a result of the heavy backlogs occurring in the EB-2 category. Furthermore, in the past, all unused EB-4 and EB-5 visa numbers were allocated to both the EB-2 and EB-3 categories. However, as of late, all categories are using all of their numbers, causing yet further backlogs. Because of severe backlogs, more and more prospective residents are choosing to submit EB-1 applications. Of course, one must remember that the qualifications for the EB-1 category are much more stringent than EB-2.
Filing an EB-1 is attractive to many prospective residents. First, turnaround times are much faster, especially with premium processing reinstated for EB-1(a) cases. Secondly, no labor certification is required. And third, the EB-1 category is almost always current on visa numbers. We have seen several cases where clients retain us first for an NIW. Later, after receiving NIW approval, clients will take the time to improve upon their professional credentials. Upon which, they retain us again for EB-1 petitions. In addition, some clients choose to retain us for EB-1 petitions after their NIW or I-140 under PERM is approved.
Here at Zhang and Associates, P.C., we realize that this process is not always efficient, and can be more often times than not, very frustrating. Please do not let this process discourage you. Our experienced staff will “deliver the best” to you in order to help you achieve your immigration goals.
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