Q. How does USCIS/DOS determine Visa Bulletin Dates?
Visa Bulletin dates are based on supply and demand. Supply is fixed at 226,000 per year for family based (FB) categories. It is 140,000 per year
for employment based (EB) categories + any unused visas in FB categories.
Each FB and EB categories has sub categories (F1, F2A, F2B, F3, F4, EB1, EB2, EB3, EB4, EB5) which has its own quota. Visas are allocated quaterly. Also each country has 7% limit on total visas.
Example: EB2 India has an annual quota of 7% * 28.6% * 140,000 = 2802 visas per year. If the demand in EB2 India is more than 2802 per year, then DOS (Department Of State)
establishes a cuttoff date so that annual allocation does not exceed 2802 per year.
Q. What about spillovers?
Since all FB categories are retrogressed, there are no spillovers in FB categories (unless there are unused visas in EB category). EB categories have two spillovers:
(a) If there are any unused visas in FB categories, then
it is equally distributed among all EB categories.
(b) In the last quarter of fiscal year (July to Sept), DOS estimates how many
visas will be unused in EB1, EB4 and EB5 categories (which are Current) and allocates it
as follows: EB4 + EB5 --> EB1 --> EB2 --> EB3. DOS allocates these spillovers so that EB categories use up all available quota of 140,000 per year.
Q. How accurate is this calculator?
There are many factors which affects visa bulletin date movement. Most of these factors changes every month. Hence please consider this as a rough estimate.
Based on new data received from USCIS, the dates shown above can easily change every month (or sooner)
A good example of rapidly changing data is EB2 India category. Dates moved forward by around 3 years in few months. However in the next few months, it retrogressed by around six years and have stayed same for next 9 months.
Then it moved forward by 3 years, etc. There could be big changes in dates (based on many other factors such as spillovers, etc).
Q. The calculator is unable to predict some priority date? Why is that?
If we are unable to determine a "good estimate", the dates would be listed as "Unknown". A good example is EB2 India. Currently the people porting (upgrading) from EB3 India
to EB2 India is using up all available quota for EB2 India (which is around 2802 per year). In this case the only way EB2 India dates will move forward is when
it gets EB/FB spillovers. Since the demand is changing every month in other EB categories, we cannot estimate how much spillovers will fall to EB2 India. Hence
the estimate would be unknown at this time. This could change when we get updated data from USCIS.
Q. My priority date is current or will be current soon. What are the next steps?
If applicant is inside US, they can file I-485 application: http://blog.mygcvisa.com/2013/04/how-to-file-i-485-application.html
If applicant is outside US and I-130/I-140 petition is approved, the application would be sent to NVC: http://blog.mygcvisa.com/2013/09/nvc-consular-processing-steps.html