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Family Preference Cut-off Dates Rapidly Move Up

The July 2010 Visa Bulletin shows significant advances in the family-based preference categories. The worldwide cut-off dates move up by several months from those indicated in June 2010 as follows: 1st preference – 7 months (April 1, 2005); 2A preference – 6 months (July 1, 2008); 2B preference – 5 ½ months (May 1, 2003); 3rd preference – 2 ½ months (September 1, 2001); and 4th preference – 4 months (January 1, 2001).

Applicants who have a priority date earlier than the abovementioned dates may be allotted visa numbers starting July 1. Those who are in the U.S. may be able to file their adjustment of status and employment authorization applications while those who are processing their immigrant visa applications abroad may be scheduled for visa interview.

The advance in the cut-off dates for Philippine applicants are as follows: 1st preference – 5 ½ months (September 1, 1995); 2A preference – 6 months (July 1, 2008); 2B preference – 12 months (March 1, 2000); 3rd preference – 12 months (May 1, 1993); and 4th preference – 12 months (April 1, 1989).

Benefiting the most under this latest development are the applicants under the 2B, 3rd and 4th preferences.

The 2B preference refers to the unmarried sons and daughters (21 years or older) of lawful permanent residents. The 3rd preference refers to the married sons and daughters of U.S. citizens. The 4th preference refers to brothers and sisters of U.S. citizens.

Philippine 2B applicants whose lawful permanent resident petitioners have become U.S. citizens are automatically reclassified under the 1st preference resulting in a much longer wait. They can avoid this by opting out to remain under the 2B preference.

Since April 2010, the Philippine family-based preferences have jumped considerably as follows: 1st preference – 18 months; 2A preference – 25 months; 2B preference – 17 ½ months; 3rd preference – 12 months; and 4th preference – 19 months.

The big jump in the family-based preferences is attributed to the very low level of demand for visa numbers in the last 1 ½ years. The U.S. Department of State has increased the pace in an attempt to generate demand so that the annual numerical limit of 226,000 may be utilized.

Applicants whose priority dates are earlier than the cut-off dates should complete their documentary requirements for their immigrant visa or adjustment of status applications. The Department of State has said that if the demand for visa numbers increases, the movement of the cut-off date would slow or stop.

The trend in the employment-based 3rd preference category is different. The demand for visa numbers continues to be heavy and therefore the cut-off dates have barely advanced.

The July 2010 worldwide (except for India and Mexico) cut-off date for 3rd preference skilled workers and professionals advances by 7 weeks (August 15, 2003) while that of the 3rd preference other workers category remains unchanged (June 1, 2001) as it has been since October 2009.

Mexican 3rd preference visa numbers continues to be unavailable while India’s 3rd preference skilled workers advances only by 1 month.

Based on current demands, the Department of State projects that by September 2010 which is the end of the current fiscal year, the worldwide cut-off dates (including Philippines) for the employment-based 3rd preference will be June through September 2004. The cut-off date for China will be October through December 2003 while India’s will be February 2002.

7 thoughts on “Family Preference Cut-off Dates Rapidly Move Up

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