US Visa Bulletin for May 2016 Issued by Department of State

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The US visa bulletin for May 2016 has been issued by the Department of State, showing minimal movement for Final Action Dates for applications for employment-based immigration visas. This means that prospective immigrants hoping to complete their immigration visa process for lawful permanent residence have not benefitted very much from the latest visa bulletin.

EB1 First Preference Employment Based immigrant Visas

The demand for EB1 immigrant visas almost doubled in March 2016 compared to February 2016. This means fewer visas are available to be reallocated to the employment based second preference EB2 visa categories.

EB2 and EB3 Second and Third Preference Employment Based immigrant Visas

Second and third preference employment based immigration categories for China-mainland born applicants had no movement, while second and third category preferences for India advanced by a few weeks to November 22, 2008 and September 2, 2004.

The May bulletin further shows that there was no movement in the third preference for all chargeability areas, excluding those listed. Details of final action dates for the listed Countries can be found to the right of the first column. Additionally, there was no movement for Mexico. However, the third preference and other workers categories for the Philippines did advance by several months to August 8, 2008.

EB3 to EB2 Immigrant visa upgrade strategy

In many cases immigrants decide to switch from Employment based immigration EB3 to EB2 visa because processing times are quicker after an I-140 employment based petition is approved.

EB4 Employment based fourth preference immigrant visas

Due to high demand from nationals chargeable to El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras for the EB4 immigrant category the DOS put in place a cutoff date for nationals of these Countries. This is due to an increase in special immigrant juvenile (SIJ) applications. The Department of State (DOS) does not expect that there will be any change in FY2016.

EB5 Immigrant Investor Employment Based Immigration Visas

The final action date only affects Chinese nationals due to the huge demand for these visas from that part of the World in recent years. It is expected that in 2016 the processing times for EB5 visas for Chinese nationals may be dealt with more quickly.

Dates for filing employment based immigrant visas almost unchanged

The Dates for Filing chart for employment-based visa categories showed no movement, with the exception of the other worker category for China-mainland born applicants, which advanced by several months to April 1, 2008.

EB2 and EB3 Immigrant Visas for Indian Nationals

Indian nationals have to wait many years for their employment based EB2 and EB3 visas to be approved. Final action dates for EB2 for Indians is 22 November 2008 and for EB3s 1 September 2004. These are slight improvements compared to the previous visa bulletin.

EB2 and EB3 Immigrant Visas for Chinese Nationals

There is potential bad news for Chinese nationals when it comes to visa availability. There has been a huge increase in downgrades from EB2 to EB3. Due to high levels of demand for both EB2 and EB3 immigrant visas the final action dates may need to be regressed and there may be longer processing times for these visas from June 2016.

EB2 and EB3 Immigrant Visas for Philippines Nationals

Final Action dates for EB2 visas for Philippines nationals are current as is the case for most nationals. The cut off date in the final action date advances several months for the EB3 employment based immigration category to 8 August 2008. According to the Department of State (DOS) this final action date should advance a few months at a time so that by the end of the year it will reach a mid 2010 cutoff date.

High Demand for US employment based immigration visas

A Department of State statement, issued along with the May bulletin, said: "During the past month, there have been extremely high levels of employment-based demand in most categories for cases filed with US Citizenship and Immigration Services for adjustment of status. If this sudden and unanticipated change in the demand pattern continues, it could impact final action dates in the coming months and possibly require corrective action in some."

The Department of State also acknowledged that there has been an 'oversubscription' of applicants from El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras.

The May US visa bulletin explained

The US Visa Bulletin for May 2016 shows charts containing dates for filing visa applications and application final action dates. The 'dates for filing visa applications' chart specifies when intending immigrants can file an application for adjustment of status or file for an immigrant visa via consular processing.

The 'application final action dates' chart shows when an adjustment of status or immigrant visa application from overseas could be approved, and permanent residence actually granted.

Should US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) establish that there are excess immigrant visas available for a fiscal year than there are known applicants for such visas, this will be specified on their website and applicants will be instructed to use the 'dates for filing visa applications' chart.

Otherwise, applicants will be directed to use the 'application final action dates' chart to establish when applicants can file and complete an adjustment of status visa application.

The application final action dates for employment-based preference cases for May 2016 are (C means current, which means theoretically that immigrants' visas can be finalised immediately):

Employment- basedAll Chargeability Areas Except Those ListedChina – Mainland BornEl Salvador, Guatemala and HondurasIndiaMexicoPhilippines
Other Workers15FEB1622APR0715FEB201601SEP0415FEB1608AUG08
Certain Religious WorkersCC01JAN10CCC
5th Non-Regional Center (C5 and T5)C08FEB14CCCC
5th Regional Center (I5 and R5)C08FEB14CCCC

The dates for the filing of employment-based visa applications are:

Employment- basedAll Chargeability Areas Except Those ListedChina – Mainland BornIndiaMexicoPhilippines
Other WorkersC01APR0815JUL05C01JAN10
Certain Religious WorkersCCCCC
5th Non-Regional Center (C5 and T5)C01MAY15CCC
5th Regional Center (I5 and R5)C01MAY15CCC