What We’re Watching: EB-1 Priority Dates Stalled for China and India Until Fall

Update: The April 2018 Visa Bulletin was released yesterday.  For this month, the most notable movement is the retrogression for the employment-based first preference category (EB-1) for Indian and Chinese nationals. That category, which had been current in the March Visa Bulletin, has retrogressed to January 1, 2012.

ImpactStarting April 1, 2018, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will no longer accept I-485 applications for Chinese and Indian nationals whose priority dates are beyond 2012. USCIS will continue to accept I-140 applications and will continue to adjudicate pending I-140s, but pending I-485 applications for the EB-1 China & India categories will be placed on hold. USCIS will resume processing these applications once the priority dates become “current.”

EIG AnalysisBased on our experience with similar EB-1 retrogressions, we expect the priority dates for all EB-1s to return to “current” after October 1, 2018, when additional visas become available with the start of the government’s fiscal year. 

Background: Retrogression occurs when more people from a specific country apply for a specific visa category than there are visas available for that country. This is not the first time the EB-1 category has retrogressed. Similar retrogressions occurred in 2016. That year, the EB-1 category for Chinese and Indian nationals returned to “current” in October. We expect the same to occur this year.

Bottom Line:  
– Pending I-140s will continue to be adjudicated.
– Pending I-485s for the affected groups with priority dates before 2012 will be placed on hold, put back into processing once the priority dates become current.
– Those who are eligible for AC-21 extension benefits based on pending petitions will remain eligible for those benefits.