A recent update from United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) and Charles Oppenheim, Chief of the Visa Control and Reporting Division at the U.S.

Department of State, indicated the EB-2 cutoff dates will advance, perhaps substantially, in May 2011. In an informational meeting with the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA), Oppenheim advised that there has been a dramatic reduction in the use of EB-1 numbers. EB-1 is typically used by individuals of extraordinary ability, outstanding professor or researcher or are a multinational executive or manager. As a result, the planned visa number demand in this category can be adjusted downward. By doing this, the unused EB-1 numbers can be allocated to other categories.

Oppenheim stated: “[US]CIS says they have seen a decline in filings, and does not expect a change in the number use pattern. Therefore, this decline in EB-1 number use will allow me to begin having those ‘otherwise unused’ numbers drop down and be available for use in the EB-2 category. Based on current indications, that would mean that at least 12,000 additional numbers will be available to the EB-2 category. This situation will allow me to advance the India EB-2 cut-off date for May. The reason being that all ‘otherwise unused’ numbers are provided strictly in priority date order, and the India demand has the largest concentration of early dates.”

Oppenheim also stated that the demand for EB-1 numbers started to diminish beginning in October 2010. Therefore, it is expected that the EB-2 category will move forward in the May 2011 Visa Bulletin. It would appear that this will primarily impact individuals from India and China. This recent news comes as a boon to those individuals who have been waiting for months without any movement in this category. While we cannot estimate how much the EB-2 priority date for India or China will advance, we certainly hope that it will move by a substantial amount, based on the 12,000 available visa numbers mentioned by Oppenheim.

An advancement in the EB-2 category will give DOS better visibility into EB-3 upgrade demand in the pipeline, and will better ensure that all visas allowed annually are used.

However, a rapid advance could spur a surge in demand that could impact the cut-off dates later in the year.

The May Visa Bulletin, which will be issued in mid-April, should contain a discussion of visa availability projections for the remainder of the year.

With the EB-2 numbers moving forward, this will in turn cause an increase in I-485 adjustmentof status filings for both the primary beneficiary or for their family members who have not been able to file the I-485 previously. Word of caution though, be prepared for the USCIS to send in the Request for Evidence to obtain updated information about the individual’s employment situation.

Immigration and business attorney Indu Liladhar-Hathi has an office in San Jose. (408) 453-5335.

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