Over 1.18 million applicants were added last year to the immigrant visa waiting list in the various preference categories subject to numerical limits.
A report from the National Visa Center and submitted to the Department of State shows that as of November 1, 2010, there were 4,552,774 family-based applicants, an increase of 1,183,319 or 35.1% from last year. The number of employment-based visa applicants was 130,619, up by 110 applicants from last year.
The Philippines placed second over-all, with 535,750 registrants. The other countries that round up the top five in terms of number of registrants are: Mexico – 1,381,896; India – 336,719; Vietnam – 283,299; and China – 274,563.
These numbers include not only the principal applicants or petition beneficiaries but also their spouses and children entitled to derivative status. However, they do not include spouses, unmarried children under 21 years of age, and parents of U.S. citizens who are not subject to the numerical limitations.
The figures do not also include the significant number of applicants for adjustment of status. Also excluded are those who failed to respond within one year to the visa application instruction letter sent by the National Visa Center notifying them of visa availability. In such case, the petition is considered inactive and not counted in the waiting list totals.
For fiscal year 2011, or from October 1, 2010 through September 30, 2011, the total number of visas to be issued is 226,000 in family-based preferences and 140,000 for employment-based preferences. The total per-country limit will be 25,620, which translates to decades-long wait times for applicants in certain categories from countries such as the Mexico, India, China and the Philippines.
The numbers of registrants for the family-based preferences (F) are: F1 (unmarried sons and daughters of U.S. citizens) – 271,018; F2A (spouses and children of permanent residents) – 361,038; F2B (adult sons and daughters of permanent residents) – 552,573; F3 (married sons and daughters of U.S. citizens) – 853,083; and F4 (brothers and sisters of U.S. citizens) – 2,515,062.
The Philippines has the second highest number of family preference registrants with 488,737. The per-country limit on the annual number of family preference visas for FY 2011 is 15,280.
Mexico ranked first in all family-based preferences. The Philippines ranked second in F1, F2B and F3 categories; fourth in the F2A category, and third in the F4 category. More cases may be added to the F1 waiting list because of the automatic conversion of pending 2B cases into F1 cases upon the naturalization of the petitioner, but this can be avoided by availing of the opt-out provision under the Child Status Protection Act. By opting to remain as an F2B case, a longer wait time under the F1 category is avoided.
For employment-based preferences (EB), the breakdown of registrants is as follows: EB1 (workers with extraordinary ability, outstanding professors and researchers, and multinational managers and executives) – 2,961; EB2 (advanced degree professionals and aliens of exceptional ability) – 6,738; EB3 (skilled workers and professionals) – 102,395; EB3 (other workers) 16,788, EB4 (special immigrants and religious workers) – 554; and EB5 (employment creation) 1,183.
The Philippines ranked first in the EB3 (skilled workers) category, fourth in the EB2 and EB 3 (other workers) categories, and fifth in the EB4 category. Registrants from the Philippines comprise 36% of the total for employment-based preferences at 47,013, of which 93.7% fall under the EB3 (skilled workers) category for the Philippines. For FY 2011, the per-country limit is only 9,800.
Approximately 90% all employment-based preference immigrants are currently being processed as adjustment of status cases which are excluded from this tally. This means that the actual demand for some employment categories is much higher.