EB-1 Retrogression Expected to Last Longer Than Normal This Year

Backlog may continue into December.

Update: This week, the Department of State (DOS) released the September 2018 visa bulletin. As reported in our monthly Visa Bulletin release update, as the fiscal year 2018 comes to a close, next month’s visa bulletin announces significant retrogression in nearly all employment-based categories (a frequent occurrence at the end of the federal government’s fiscal year). Backlogs usually return to normal in October.

That may not be the case this year. In section H of the visa bulletin, where DOS provides projections for the upcoming months, the September visa bulletin states that the EB-1 category will continue to have cut-off dates into the month of October and will likely see limited, if any, advances prior to December 2018.

Historically the EB-1 category is current for all (including applicants born in China and India), which provides an expedited route to employment-based green cards for those who meet the stringent EB-1 requirements. This is specifically usual for individuals born in China and India who, when applying for green cards through other categories, face extended wait times ranging from 3-10 years.

Impact: Individuals in the EB-1 category for all countries will have to wait to apply for permanent residency until their priority date becomes current based on the cut-off date provided for their country in the monthly visa bulletin. In practice, this may signify a halt on AOS filings for EB-1 beneficiaries until December 2018, prolonging overall green card timelines.

Analysis: This continued retrogression is likely an effort by DOS to ensure smooth allocation of the annual quota of EB1 visa numbers over the course of FY2019 while ensuring number use stays within the maximum allowed for the fiscal year. The hope is that this retrogression will not be repeated 12 months from now. EIG will continue to monitor the updates to the visa bulletin and will communicate any relevant changes.