Every fiscal year a limited number of immigrant visas are made available for each preference category. If the visa demand for a particular category is excessive and could not be satisfied by the number of visas allotted each year, the category is oversubscribed.
The cut-off date indicated in the visa bulletin released by the Department of State each month is the priority date of the first visa applicant who could not be reached within the limit. A visa number is immediately available to an applicant whose priority date is before the cut-off date.
The cut-off date for a particular category may advance, remain unchanged, retrogress and even be listed as unavailable depending on the visa demand.
The July 2015 visa bulletin shows that the U.S. Department of State did not assign a priority date for the Philippine employment-based third preference (EB-3) for skilled workers, professionals and other workers, and instead listed it as “unavailable.”
In the past two months, the priority date for the Philippine EB-3 has significantly retrogressed, rolling back seven years and three months in May, and moving back another two years and six months in June. Despite the roll back, the visa demand under this category remained high. The Department of State therefore made this category “unavailable” to keep the visa use within the annual limit.
“Unavailable” means that the quota for the Philippine EB-3 has been used. It is of course possible that the EB-2 category may have some unused visa numbers that may be available for September use. If not, then visa numbers under this category will become available on October 1, 2015, the start of the new fiscal year.
The EB-3 cut-off date for all other countries except China and India will move forward by one month and seventeen days, to April 1, 2015.
The cut-off date for China’s employment-based third preference for skilled workers and professionals will remain at September 1, 2011 and other workers will also remain at January 1, 2006. Meanwhile, EB-3 cut-off date for India will move by ten days to February 1, 2004.
The employment-based second preference (EB-2) will remain current for all countries except China and India. China’s second preference cut-off date will move by four months to October 1, 2013 while India’s cut-off date will remain at October 1, 2008.
Also, the employment-based fifth preference (EB-5) will remain current for all countries except China. The EB-5 cut-off date for China will move by four months to September 1, 2013. All the other employment preferences will remain current for all countries.
The family-based preferences (F-1 to F-4) will move slowly. The worldwide preference cut-off dates are as follows: F-1 (unmarried sons and daughters of U.S. citizens) – October 1, 2007; F-2A(spouses and children of permanent residents) – November 8, 2013; F-2B (adult unmarried sons and daughters of permanent residents) – October 15, 2008; F-3 (married son and daughters of U.S citizens) – March 15, 2004 and F-4 (brothers and sisters of U.S. citizens) – October 22, 2002.
The Philippine cut-off dates are: F-1 – March 15, 2000; F-2A – November 8, 2013; F-2B – May 15, 2004; F-3 – August 22, 1993 and F-4 – December 8, 1991.