The official July 2011 visa bulletin was released today with great news for applicants in the Employment-Based Second Preference categories. Both EB2-China and EB2-India advanced nearly five months to reach a cutoff date of March 8, 2007.
This is the first time for either category’s cut-off date to cross into 2007 since, well, the July 2007 visa bulletin fiasco. So after four years, people with 2007 priority dates are finally seeing light at the end of the tunnel.
Not everyone will immediately see I-485 approvals when their priority date becomes current. In fact it is pretty rare. USCIS processes eligible I-485 applications based on receiving date, security checks, and other factors, so it is not unusual for them to keep working on cases that are already current. However, since USCIS has pre-adjudicated so many I-485 applications, we do expect to see a large number of approval notices throughout July. You may want to check the green card tracker to see how many are still ahead of you, as of June 2011.
July 2011 Visa Bulletin also brings good news to people who missed the July 2007 VB madness, since this will the first time many of them are eligible to file I-485s.
Keep in mind that when the cutoff date is March 8, it means only applicants whose priority date is March 7 or earlier are eligible to file I-485 or receive green card approvals.
Below is an image showing EB2 retrogression for the last four year. We are beginning to see a trend now, which repeats year over year. The Y-axis is the number of years an EB2 applicant has to wait for a given month of visa bulletin publication:
Unfortunately Employment Third Preference (EB3) is still lingering. Other than Mexico, all other EB3 categories moved just a little bit. There is no doubt that many EB3 applicants would consider upgrading their cases to EB2. It remains to be seen if this becomes a trend, and if yes, what effect it will have on the overall visa bulletin development.
The image below reflects this sad reality graphically: EB-3 retrogression is generally worsening over the past four years. For India EB3, you are looking at 9-year wait as of July 2011, which means only people who started their green card journey 9 years ago are now eligible for approval. China EB3 isn’t much better, with a 7-year linger despite a relatively small number of people in queue (3811 total). All other countries and regions are hovering around 5 – 6 years.
The visa bulletin cutoff dates can change quickly, as shown by Mexico EB3. This can be caused by several factors such as visa number shuffling, people switching to EB2, and even family-based immigrant number consumption. As a result, EB3 retrogression for certain countries might improve at some point as well. However, without a major immigration reform, the heavy EB3 backlog is unlikely to shrink much any time soon.