Just like fiscal year (FY) 2014, we are seeing rapid movement forward on the Eb3 (Employment based) queue for the worldwide Eb3 quota early in FY 2015. For most individuals now with priority dates, pending and approved PERMS, and I-140 petitions, this is certainly good news. It is also reason for some individuals to stop waiting for the right time to start their residence process. The time to get started is now. Rarely is one rewarded in the US immigration process by delay.
The Visa Bulletin is published each month by the US Department of State and provides for guidance on which immigrant petitions can proceed to the final immigrant process either at a US consular office abroad or by adjustment of status within the USA. One way to view the priority dates on the Visa Bulletin is to envision a waiting line or queue. The date if the Visa Bulletin is the day when the first person waiting in line to be served with their final immigrant process arrived in line. Anyone with a date later than the person at the front of the line is behind them in queue. The longer one is behind that person with a current priority date at the front of the line, the longer your wait may be.
The November 2014 Visa Bulletin provided the following guidance regarding the Eb3 progression:
Worldwide: Continued rapid forward movement for the next several months. After such rapid advance of the cut-off date applicant demand for number use, particularly for adjustment of status cases, is expected to increase significantly. Once such demand begins to materialize at a greater rate it will impact this cut-off date situation.
One can expect that the cutoff date will soon return to the 2014 advance of October 1, 2012. Additional advances into 2013 and beyond are then possible given the above guidance. In support of this, the statistics from the US Department of Labor indicate that the number of PERM cases certified has not returned to the level of FY 2007. For FY 2013 and FY 2014 the total number of applications certified were 35,188 and 57,459 respectively.
Calculations that would point to definite advance movement of the Eb3 queue remain speculative. The number of included family members alone that will be added to the usage of the quota remains an unknown variable unless the rules are changed to count only the principal employment based applicant.
One can speculate that with 140,000 Eb visa numbers available each year that usage for Eb1, Eb2 and Eb3 in the worldwide quota would appear to be below the full annual allocation by a trend permitting further movement like we have seen over the past several fiscal years.
While there are various reasons for this movement, the one most apparent reason would be the lingering effects of the Great Recession. Both job loss and lower job creation have an impact on the Eb queue. Demand for visas fall with fewer Eb immigrant petitions being filed and cases in queue failing to move to fruition due to factors including job loss and business closures. One could say that a benefit of a recession is improvement of the waiting lines for employment based immigrants.
One exception to this rule appears to be for natives of India. Once again, a review of the published statistics from the US Department of Labor show heavy PERM filings and approvals for natives of India, over 50% of the approved PERM cases over the last 3 fiscal years. These facts do not favor significant advance movement for the individuals now in queue. Heavy demand results in longer lines, and the trend for EB natives of India appears to be well engrained in the system.