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Mr. Oppenheim of the Visa Office Predicts that EB-2 Cut-off Dates will Advance Again with the March Visa Bulletin

American Immigration Lawyers Association released an article regarding employment-based visas on January 23, 2012. According to this article, the two AILA committee members discussed the visa bulletin, potential visa demand, and other predictions for FY 2012 with Mr. Oppenheim of the Visa Office of the Department of State on January 19, 2012. Here are some key points:

Employment-based visa usage has been very slow so far in FY 2012. USCIS thought more petitions would be received; however, only half of their estimate has actually filed an I-485. Thus, the Department of State is advancing the dates in recent months.

EB-1 visa is current again this year. Mr. Oppenheim estimated that 12,000 extra EB-1 visas would fall into the EB-2 category, even though he also thought the EB-1 number availability may be reduced by about 1,000 as compared to that from last year due to an increase in EB-5 visa usage.

Mr. Oppenheim was very surprised by the dramatic decrease in EB-1 visas. This decrease may be in response to USCIS’ stricter policy regarding EB-1 applications after a memo was released on August 18, 2010. As a result, the demand for EB-1 visas became lower.

As of January 19, about 34% of the total number of permanent residence visas has been used, and 45% should be used by the end of February.

Adjustment of status via USCIS accounts for 85%-90% of all employment-based visa cases.

Predictions on the Visa Bulletin:

The EB-2 cut-off dates will advance again with the March Visa Bulletin, likely by at least a few months. It is possible for the dates to advance six months, but an advance of one year is unlikely.

With normal USCIS adjustment of status processing times of four-to-six months, March 2012 is the approximate deadline to get the I-485 cases filed and possibly approved in FY2012.

The EB-2 cut-off dates will probably be held over the summer, and subsequently retrogress or advance if needed. Mr. Oppenheim does not have enough data to predict demand and EB-2 cut-off date changes in the last quarter of FY2012 (From July to September 2012).

Based on the predictions mentioned above, we recommend that you file your NIW petition as soon as possible if you are qualified for a NIW. In doing so, you would also have an earlier priority date. Previously, some people thought a NIW was not worthy since backlog time had been very long. With USCIS’ stricter policy with EB-1 applications and EB-2 advancement in recent months, a NIW has become a better option. We predict that EB-2 backlog time will be one and a half years in several years to come.

For the year of 2011, our firm received 286 NIW approvals. If you are interested in filing a NIW but not sure if you are qualified, please contact Attorney Jerry Zhang at He will provide you with a free evaluation.

Founded in 1996, Zhang & Associates, P.C. offers legal services to clients nationwide in all aspects of U.S immigration law. We have successfully handled thousands of immigration cases.

At Zhang & Associates, P.C., our attorneys and supporting professionals are committed to providing high-quality immigration and non-immigration visa services. We specialize in NIW, EB-1, PERM, and I-485 cases. In the past fifteen years, we have successfully helped thousands of clients get green cards. If you plan to apply for a green card, please send your CV to Attorney Jerry Zhang ( for a free evaluation.

Zhang & Associates, PC.

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