December Visa Bulletin Pushes Back Priority Dates for Workers from India

Foreign workers with approved immigrant visa petitions (I-140) watch the monthly Visa Bulletin closely to see when their priority dates for adjusting their status to lawful permanent residents will become current.  Adjusting status from the temporary work authorization of visas to permanent residency gives foreign nationals permission to live and work in the U.S. indefinitely. Often changes in priority dates in the Visa Bulletin result in foreign nationals calling HR for immigration support.

In the December Visa Bulletin, the priority date for workers from India who have second preference approvals—those with advanced degrees or five or more years of qualifying experience—has moved backwards or “retrogressed” from June 15, 2008 to November 15, 2004. Indians with third preference approvals—requiring only a bachelor’s degree—also retrogressed slightly from September 22, 2003 to September 1, 2003. Candidates who qualify for adjustments now need to file their adjustments before the new Bulletin takes effect December 1, 2013.

Charlie Oppenheim from the U.S. Department of State explained that this retrogression occurred because many Indian workers “upgraded” from third preference to second preference and because of a surge in filings when the cut-off date for EB-2/India moved sharply forward in the October Visa Bulletin. This jump forward was done to use quota allocations from other categories, which were unused in FY2013, and could be assigned without regard to per-country preferences. Now that these visas have been allocated, it is back to the per-country limitations, which close the flow to a trickle for workers from India.

Except for workers from India and the Philippines, worldwide the third preference priority date moves forward one year, from October 1, 2010 to October 1, 2011, starting December 1. Curiously, third preference/China at late 2011 is well ahead of second preference /China, which is at November 2008.

“Employers with questions about priority date cut-offs are welcome to call us at any time, whether or not we are doing their permanent residency cases,” states Chris Bauer, Manager of Immigration Services.  She and staff attorney Sherry Lin can be reached 1-800-884-1328 or immigration@msec.org.