The Department of State has released the May 2015 Visa Bulletin, a monthly report detailing the current cutoff dates for the filing or approval of green card applications in the various U.S. permanent visa categories. A person who is otherwise eligible to apply for or be granted a green card in the U.S., must have a current priority date as specified in the Visa Bulletin.
The May 2015 Visa Bulletin shows continued forward movement in all but two categories, and a warning for nationals of the Philippines. As of May 1, 2015, the priority date in the employment-based second (EB-2) preference category for Chinese nationals will advance 14 months to June 1, 2012, while the priority date in the EB-2 category for Indian nationals will advance over seven months to April 15, 2008.
The priority dates in the employment-based third (EB-3) preference for all countries except India, China, and the Philippines advanced three months to January 1, 2015, and are nearly current. EB-3 India again advanced only one week to January 15, 2004. There is a reversal of April’s bad news for nationals of China as the EB-3 priority date advanced again to May 1, 2011.
The bad news in May is for nationals of the Philippines and for Chinese investors. The EB-3 priority date for the Philippines moved backward over seven years to July 1, 2007, due to heavy demand following previous rapid advancements. This retrogression was anticipated, but came sooner than expected. Meanwhile, as expected, the priority dates in the EB-5 immigrant investor category retrogressed to May 1, 2013.
As has been the case for several months, most family-based preference categories will advance at least a few weeks.
Looking ahead, in a discussion with the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA), the State Department’s Chief of the Visa Control and Reporting Division, Charles Oppenheim, indicated that EB-3 Philippines could advance slowly after the May retrogression, but the family-based first preference (FB-1) category for the Philippines will likely retrogress in June or July. Mr. Oppenheim also indicated that the advancement in the EB-2 category for Indian nationals would slow down during the summer months and could possibly stop in August or September.
You can view the visa bulletin in its entirety below. Please contact us with any questions.
UPDATE: On April 13, 2015, USCIS announced that they received over 233,000 H-1B petitions for the fiscal year 2016 H-1B cap. They also announced that on April 13, 2015, they completed the "random selection process" or lottery to determine which petitions would be considered for further processing under both the 20,000 master's degree slots and the 65,000 "regular" slots. USCIS will return all submitted petitions not selected for further processing.
As described in our original post below, USCIS will continue to accept H-1B petitions that are exempt from the H-1B cap.
USCIS has announced that as of April 7, 2015, they have received enough petitions under both the “regular” cap and the “master’s degree” cap to reach the annual H-1B visa limit for fiscal year 2016. USCIS will now run two computer-generated lotteries: the first to determine which petitions are considered for the 20,000 master’s degree slots, and the second to determine which petitions are considered for the 65,000 “regular” slots. All petitions not selected in the master’s degree lottery will also be eligible for the “regular” lottery. The lottery dates have not been announced.
USCIS will reject petitions subject to the cap for H-1B workers seeking an employment start date between October 1, 2015, and September 30, 2016, that are received after April 7, 2015. No new cap subject H-1B petitions may be filed until April 1, 2016, for employment beginning no earlier than October 1, 2016. USCIS will continue to accept petitions for H-1B workers assigned to Department of Defense projects and petitions for Chilean and Singaporean H-1B1 workers.
It is important to note that the cap applies only to “new” H-1B petitions, i.e. petitions filed on behalf of workers who have never held H-1B status or who have spent one year or more outside the U.S. since last holding H-1B status. Exempt from the cap are extension petitions for workers currently in H-1B status, petitions for current H-1B holders seeking concurrent employment, petitions requesting a change of H-1B employer, and petitions amending a worker’s current H-1B status due to a material change in the terms and conditions of the employment.
In addition, some “new” petitions are exempt from the cap by virtue of the type of petitioner or the type of work being done. These are petitions filed on behalf of a worker who is or will be employed at an institution of higher education or a related or affiliated nonprofit entity, and petitions filed on behalf of a worker who is or will be employed at a nonprofit research organization or a governmental research organization. Petitions for J-1 international medical graduates who have received waivers under the Conrad 30 program are also exempt from the cap.
We will continue to monitor the situation and provide updates as additional details emerge. Meanwhile, please contact us with any questions.
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