Employment based immigration priority dates

  • In October 2012 (start of FY2013), the EB-2 cut-off dates for China and India born applicants, which are currently “unavailable,” will move to August or September 2007. From that point, it is unlikely that the cut-off dates will advance for the first two quarters of FY2013.  This is because there are already 17,000 pending EB-2 cases with priority dates after January 1, 2009.  So, a high volume of cases are already queued up for approval in FY2013.
  • EB-2 for the rest of the world will be “current” in October 2012.
  • If USCIS approves many pending cases during the month of June, the worldwide EB-2 category may retrogress or become unavailable for the rest of FY2012.
  • I-485 applicants born in China and India who filed earlier this year will likely be waiting years for final adjudication of their I-485s.


Why did priority dates advance so much and then retrogress so drastically?


Before priority dates advanced so much, USCIS was reporting that they were not receiving enough I-485s to use up the annual allotment of employment-based green cards for FY2012.  As such, Department of State (DOS), which controls the cut-off dates, opened the flood-gate for I-485 applicants by moving cut-off dates forward dramatically in January, February and March of 2012.


Essentially, DOS blames USCIS for its estimates which led to the large swings in cut-off dates.  DOS has been very clear that they do not like retrogression.


Another factor that made it difficult to predict demand is that USCIS isn’t keeping statistics on EB-3 to EB-2 “upgrades.”  When there is an upgrade, an older EB-3 priority date is mated to newly attained EB-2 classification, which makes an applicant “current” earlier than when s/he would otherwise be.  DOS believes there are 10,000 to 15,000 upgrades every year.  USCIS previously insisted that the number of upgrade cases was insignificant.