The monthly release of United States Citizen and ImmigrationServices (USCIS) Visa Bulletin not only publishes the latest priority dates andfiling deadlines for both family and employment-based green card applications,it can also indicate a trend for the upcoming months.
As 2018 is rapidly approaching, let’s take a look at the December2017 visa bulletin and how it compares to last year’s December bulletin, aswell as the rest of 2017.
All Chargeability AreasExcept Those Listed
For the third month in a row, all categories for the countriesnot specifically listed on the visa bulletin remain current. Other than aretrogression to an April 2015 figure in the 2nd category on the August 2017visa bulletin, those countries have been either current or near-to-current forthe majority of 2017.
China - Mainland Born
This month, all categories for green card applicants born inmainland China either remain current or progress by up to three months. Overthe past twelve months, priority dates for China have been very consistent andhave shown little fluctuations in retrogressions and progressions in prioritydates.
El Salvador, Guatemala, andHonduras
El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras are the newest additions tothe visa bulletin. Over the twelve months they have been included on the visabulletin, priority dates have been very steady. With regard to the December2017 bulletin, all categories remain current, while the 4th category and thecategory for certain religious workers progress by one week.
For quite a while, green card applicants that were born in Indiahave been the group with the most distant priority dates on theemployment-based visa bulletin. Over the past year, priority dates have shownlittle movement. On the December 2017 visa bulletin, the three categories thatare not current, namely the 2nd, 3rd and “other workers” categories have shownlittle to no progression in recent months. Compared to December 2016, the 2ndcategory retrogressed by approximately six months.
Just like the priority dates for applicants born in mainlandChina, as well as Honduras, Guatemala,and El Salvador, priority dates for individuals born in Mexico have shownlittle fluctuation over the past year. Priority dates for the 4th category and certainreligious workers have been progressing steadily over the past twelve monthswhile all other categories have remained current since the issuance of theOctober 2017 bulletin.
After having retrogressed by more than two years on the January2017 visa bulletin, from September 2013 to July 2011, the priority dates forthe 3rd category and other workers have been on a steady rise over the pasttwelve months, progressing back to January 2016. All other categories remaincurrent after showing only minor changes over the course of 2017.
The Future of the Visa Bulletin
Predicting the priority dates for the next visa bulletin isalways a hot topic, but predicting how numbers will develop from December toJanuary is always a little bit more relevant. Since there has been little to noactivity in the progression and retrogression of most categories over the pastfew months, more significant changes on the January 2018 visa bulletin arecertainly possible.
After all, USCIS added a new group of countries in January 2017by separating Honduras, El Salvador, and Guatemala from the group of countriesnot specifically mentioned in their own category.
In addition, the current administration’s efforts to movetowards a merit-basedimmigration system in the U.S. bring a certain uncertainty to thedevelopment and future of the visa bulletin and employment-based immigration ingeneral.
With the release of the January 2018 visa bulletin in a fewweeks, we will certainly have a better idea of how the employment-based greencard applications might develop in 2018, and we’ll share our takeaways then.
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