Visa Bulletin Predictions for FY2017

The Chief of the Visa Control and Reporting Division, Charles Oppenheim, at the Department of State regularly provides his insights and predictions to the American Immigration Lawyers Association regarding the future trends and movements in the visa bulletin. Recently Charles provided the following predictions for the coming few months and also the new fiscal year beginning October 1, 2016.

Employment-Based Immigration
EB-2/EB-3 China: The final action date for EB-2 China and EB-3 China will remain the same through the remainder of this fiscal year (2016).  When the new fiscal year begins in October, however, EB-2 China is expected to advance to a date in late 2011 or early 2012. EB-3 China’s final action date is expected to reach late 2012 or early 2013.   If this happens, EB-3 China will once again surpass EB-2 China, and as a result, Chinese applicants will have another opportunity to downgrade to the EB-3 category.  
EB-2 and EB-3 Worldwide:  Presently, the EB-2 Worldwide final action date lags behind EB-3 Worldwide, but this should not create the same EB-3 downgrade phenomenon we have witnessed in recent years in the China EB categories. Charlie expects EB-2 Worldwide to become current again in October. Despite the uncharacteristically low demand in EB-3 Worldwide, Charlie is concerned that there is demand in this category that has not yet materialized.
EB-2/EB-3 India:  In October, EB-2 India will likely move to a date in early 2007. Slow movements of a few weeks at a time are anticipated for EB-3 India, which is likely to remain at a 2005 date in October. EB-3 India is the last category in which the Visa Chief has some visibility from the summer 2007 adjustment of status filings. This means that any movement in this category will be more steady and less erratic compared to others.
EB-5 China:  Charlie is unable to make any predictions at this time as to where EB-5 China dates will fall in the next fiscal year. He expects to have better information by late September to mid-October.
EB-1 India and China:  It is expected that EB-1 India and EB-1 China, which both had final action cut-off dates imposed late this fiscal year, will become current again in October.
Charlie reports that the infusion of FY 2017 visa numbers will make EB-4 India and EB-4 Mexico current in October. The final action date for EB-4 El Salvador/Guatemala/Honduras should move to a date sometime in the summer of 2015, and possibly beyond. Given the high applicant demand in this category for El Salvador relative to the other two countries, it is possible that we will see a more advanced final action date for Guatemala and Honduras.
Family-Based Projections
There are some favorable modifications to last month’s predictions for September in the family-based categories. While Charlie thought the final action dates for F-2A and F-4 might retrogress in September, an increase in returned unused visa numbers in July, and weak demand for these categories has allowed Charlie to hold these dates unchanged for the remainder of the fiscal year.
Consistent with Charlie’s predictions last month, F-4 Worldwide advanced slightly. There were also minor advances in all of the family Worldwide categories, and all of the F-2B categories with the exception of F-2B Mexico. F-3 and F-4 Mexico and F-3 and F-4 Philippines also crept slightly ahead to close out the fiscal year.
The family-based categories tend to advance more consistently as the majority of demand in these categories occurs at overseas consular posts. While we expect movements into the next fiscal year to also remain relatively steady, Charlie will continue to comply with the Administration’s Visa Modernization Proposal by advancing the dates as aggressively as possible in the first three quarters of the fiscal year. While doing so helps to ensure that number use is maximized, it may cause retrogression in the final quarter, such as those experienced in the F-4 China and India preference categories.
As we approach the one year anniversary of the new Visa Bulletin format (addition of the filing date charts), Charlie did not have any predictions in terms of “filing dates” as he had not yet met with the CIS Ombudsman’s Office at the time of this discussion. 

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