In the May 2015 Visa Bulletin, EB-3 Philippines retrogressed by nearly 7 years and seemingly without warning. According to Charles Oppenheim, Chief of the Visa Control and Reporting Division, U.S. Department of State, “corrective” action was expected within FY2015, but not at such a drastic rate. The reason EB-3 Philippines retrogression appears shocking in due, in part, to the method for determining the monthly cut-off for priority dates.
According to the American Immigration Lawyer’s Association’s monthly report entitled “Check-in with DOS’s Charlie Oppenheim (4/16/15),” cut-off dates are based on “comprehensive data from the National Visa Center regarding the number of applicants registered for overseas processing in each preference category, as well as the number of “documentarily qualified” individuals (i.e., applicants who have responded to the Agent of Choice letter, paid the fee, and provided all required documents).”
The problem with the process arises, however, because USCIS did not provide data on EB-3 Philippines in advance of the visa bulletin. In the six week period leading up to the May 2015 Visa Bulletin, USCIS visa demand for visas increased by more than “2,000 as compared to the approximately 3,275 that were used during the entire previous fiscal year.” Id. Mr. Oppenheim further explained that this demand, “coupled with an increase in demand in the EB-1/EB-2 categories severely limited the EB-3 numbers available for future use.” Id.
At this time, too many variables with EB-3 Philippines make it impossible to speculate the amount of movement that can be expected through the remainder of FY2015.