October 2017 Visa Bulletin Released: Fiscal Year 2018 Opens With Good News… and Not So Good News

The U.S. Department of State (“DOS”) has issued its October 2017 Visa Bulletin, summarizing the availability of immigrant visas for the first time in Fiscal Year 2018, which begins on October 1, 2017.

Here are five (5) things to know about the new visa bulletin:

  1. EB-1 Current for China and India. For the past couple months, there has been a backlog for Chinese-mainland and Indian nationals for EB-1.  With the new fiscal year, the EB-1 category is now current for all nationalities, and visa applications may be filed regardless of the applicant’s priority date.  It is unknown how long this category will remain current, but this is great news for the surge of EB-1 applicants who filed I-140 petitions in the past year.
  1. Large Movement of Priority Date for China EB-3. The September 2017 Visa Bulletin included a cutoff date of January 1, 2012 for China-mainland born EB-3 applicants.  It has advanced two (2) years to January 1, 2014.  The Department of State (“DOS”) estimates that this cutoff date will move up approximately four (4) months in the coming months.
  1. Extension of EB-4 and EB-5 Immigration Programs. The visa bulletin references the recently-passed R. 601 – Continuing Appropriations Act, 2018 and the Supplemental Appropriations for Disaster Relief Requirement Act, 2017, which extended both the EB-4 category for religious workers as well as the EB-5 Regional Center Program until December 8, 2017.  Unfortunately, the EB-5 cutoff date for mainland-Chinese nationals advanced only one (1) week to June 22, 2014.  Only Chinese EB-5 immigrant investors whose priority date is earlier than this cut-off date may move forward with the permanent resident process.  Additionally, DOS estimates only “up to one week” of forward movement in the coming months for China-mainland EB-5.
  1. Slow Movement for F2B for China. The cutoff date for the F2B family-sponsored preference – designated for unmarried sons and daughters (21 years of age or older) of permanent residents – only advanced one week to November 8, 2010.  This is an important visa preference category to watch for Chinese EB-5 investors with children who may “age-out” due to the slow moving EB-5 visa waiting line.  As long as children remain unmarried, family-based immigration (and the filing of the Form I-130) may be a solution for Chinese EB-5 investors to obtain permanent residence for their young adult children.
  1. Chart B, Date for Filing Applications. The visa bulletin continues to include the Chart B – Dates for Filing Applications, which was created by the Obama Administration to ensure the use of all visa numbers provided for under the Immigration and Nationality Act.  USCIS should consider using Chart B, “Date for Filing” to allow persons in the U.S. to file adjustment of status applications.  This will allow EB-5 investors with approved Form I-526 petitions to obtain work and travel permits earlier than they would be able to under Chart A, “Final Action Dates.”

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