• March 2019 Visa Bulletin: Slower Overall Advancement Than Projected, Including EB-1; USCIS to Honor Final Action Dates
  • February 15, 2019
  • Law Firm: - Office
  • At a glance

    • EB-1 will advance by one month for most countries, to January 1, 2018; China and India will advance by two weeks, to February 22, 2017.
    • EB-2 will advance by three months for China, to January 1, 2016, and by three days for India, to April 9, 2009. All other countries will remain current.
    • The EB-3 subcategory for Professionals and Skilled Workers will remain current for most countries, though China will advance by one week to July 8, 2015, and India will advance by one month to May 22, 2009.
    • In March, USCIS will accept employment-based adjustment applications from foreign nationals with a priority date that is earlier than the Final Action dates listed in the State Department’s March Visa Bulletin.

    The situation

    According to the State Department’s March Visa Bulletin, cutoff dates for issuance of an immigrant visa will be as follows:

    • EB-1: All countries except China and India will advance by one month, to January 1, 2018. China and India will advance by two weeks, to February 22, 2017.
    • EB-2: All countries will remain current, except for China and India. China will advance by three months, to January 1, 2016 (as predicted by February State Department projections), while India will advance by only three days, to April 9, 2009.
    • EB-3 (Professional and Skilled Workers): Most countries will remain current, while China will advance one week, to July 8, 2015; India will advance one month, to May 22, 2009; and the Philippines will advance by four months, to December 1, 2017.
    • EB-5: The Regional Center and standard EB-5 subcategories category will be current for all countries except China and Vietnam. China will advance one week, to September 8, 2014 and Vietnam will advance one month, to July 15, 2016.
      • The Regional Center program was set to expire after midnight tonight, but legislation to reauthorize the program was passed by Congress yesterday and signed into law by President Trump today.

    Overall, March cutoff dates advanced more slowly than the maximum projections listed in last month's Visa Bulletin. EB-1 India and China both advanced at half the pace the State Department projected possible, and EB-3 India and China even more slowly. However, China EB-2 advanced as anticipated in the projection.

    USCIS to honor Final Action Dates in March

    To be eligible to file an employment-based adjustment application in March, employer-sponsored foreign nationals must have a priority date that is earlier than the date listed below for their preference category and country.

    The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has chosen to honor the Department of State Final Action Dates chart for the second consecutive month, after several months of using the Dates for Filing chart. The Final Action Date chart reflects actual visa availability for that month.

    Reauthorization of expiring programs

    Legislation has reauthorized the EB-4 Non-Minister Religious Worker and EB-5 Regional Center programs through FY 2019. Both programs were set to expire at midnight tonight, but were reauthorized in the Department of Homeland Security FY 2019 funding bill, passed just earlier today. As a result, immigrant visa availability in these categories will remain subject to normal quotas through September 30, 2019.

    USCIS has not yet updated its website to reflect the program reauthorizations, but the State Department Visa Bulletin makes clear that once these programs are reauthorized by legislation, they will be subject to the below cut-off dates.

    FINAL ACTION CUT-OFF DATES FOR MARCH 2019

    EB-1

    China and India: February 22, 2017

    All other countries: January 1, 2018

    EB-2

    China: January 1, 2016

    India: April 9, 2009

    All other countries: Current

    EB-3 Professionals and Skilled Workers

    China: July 8, 2015

    India: May 22, 2009

    Philippines: December 1, 2017

    All other countries: Current

    EB-3 Other Workers

    China: August 15, 2007

    India: May 22, 2009

    Philippines: December 1, 2017

    All other countries: Current

    EB-4

    El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras: March 1, 2016

    Mexico: January 1, 2018

    All other countries: Current

    EB-5

    China: September 8, 2014

    Vietnam: July 15, 2016

    All other countries: Current