Immigrant visa applications in the various preference categories which are subject to numerical limit are registered on the visa waiting list. Approved petitions for applicants applying overseas are forwarded by the United State Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to the Department of State (DOS).
A report from the National Visa Center and submitted to the Department of State shows that the number of family-based applicants on the waiting list for immigrant visa numbers as of November 1, 2014 was 4,331,750, an increase of 120,779 or 2.9% from last year. The number of employment-based visa applicants was 90,910, down by 20,694 or -18.5% from last year.
The Philippines placed second over-all, with 428,765 registrants. The other countries that round up the top five in terms of number of registrants are: Mexico – 1,323,978; India – 323,089; Vietnam – 259,030; and China – 243,440.
These numbers include the principal applicants or petition beneficiaries as well as their spouses and children entitled to derivative status. However, they do not include immediate relatives who are not subject to the numerical limitations, namely, spouses, unmarried children under 21 years of age, and parents of U.S. citizens.
Applicants for adjustment of status are not included. The figures do not also include 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.
An annual worldwide as well as per country limit of immigrant visa issued is set in accordance with the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA). There is also a limit on each preference category. During the fiscal year 2014 which ran from October 1, 2013 through September 30, 2014, visas issued were no more than 226,000 in the family-sponsored preferences and approximately 150,241 in the employment-based preferences. The per country limit was approximately 26,337.
The number of registrants for the family-based preferences (F) are: F1 (unmarried sons and daughters of U.S. citizens) – 314,527; F2A (spouses and children of permanent residents) – 257,355; F2B (adult sons and daughters of permanent residents) – 498,277; F3 (married sons and daughters of U.S. citizens) – 805,627; and F4 (brothers and sisters of U.S. citizens) – 2,455,964.
The Philippines has the second highest number of family preference registrants with 399,061.
Mexico ranked first in all family-based preferences. The Philippines ranked second in the F3, category; third in the F1 and F2B categories, fourth in the F2A category and fifth 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. The automatic conversion may be avoided by availing of opt-out provision under the Child Status Protection Act. Many Filipinos have taken advantage of this law by opting to remain under F-2B in order to avoid the longer wait under F1.
In the employment-based categories, the Philippines ranks first with 29,704 followed by India with 27,832; China with 11,672; South Korea with 3,328 and Mexico with 2,609. The report notes that 86% of all employment-based preference immigrants are currently being processed as adjustment of status cases at the USCIS offices.
The number of registrants under the employment-based preferences (EB) are broken down as follows: EB1 (workers with extraordinary ability, outstanding professors and researchers, and multinational managers and executives) – 2,733; EB2 (advanced degree professionals and aliens of exceptional ability) – 8,380; EB3 (skilled workers and professionals) – 65,580; EB3 (other workers) 7,484, EB4 (special immigrants and religious workers) – 315; and EB5 (employment creation) 6,418.
The Philippines ranked first in the EB3 (skilled workers) category, and fourth in the EB2 and EB 3 (other workers) categories.
For fiscal year 2015, the annual maximum number of visas to be issued in the family-based category will be no more than 226,000 and approximately 144,000 in the employment-based category. Per country limit will be approximately 25,900.