May 2011 Visa Bulletin has been released (valid from May 1 to May 31 only). Please see below for more details.
D. VISA AVAILABILITY DURING THE COMING MONTHS
Family-sponsored: The extremely high level of demand during the first few months of FY-2011 resulted in the retrogression of most worldwide cut-off dates in January or February. Most of these cut-offs have begun to advance slowly, although demand is still somewhat heavy in the Family First preference which may require further retrogression of that date. At this time it is not possible to predict the rate of forward movement, but some movement is anticipated in most categories for the remainder of the fiscal year.
Employment-based: At this time the amount of demand being received in the Employment First preference is extremely low compared with that of recent years. Absent an immediate and dramatic increase in demand, this category will remain “Current” for all countries. It also appears unlikely that a Second preference cut-off date will be imposed for any countries other than China and India, where demand is extremely high. Based on current indications of demand, the best case scenarios for cut-off date movement each month during the coming months are as follows:
Employment Second: Demand by applicants who are “upgrading” their status from Employment Third to Employment Second preference is very high, but the exact amount is not known. Such “upgrades” are in addition to the known demand already reported, and make it very difficult to predict ultimate demand based on forward movement of the China and India cut-off dates. While thousands of “otherwise unused” numbers will be available for potential use without regard to the China and India Employment Second preference per-country annual limits, it is not known how the “upgrades” will ultimately impact the cut-offs for those two countries. (The allocation of “otherwise unused” numbers is discussed below.)
China: none to three weeks expected through July. No August or September estimate is possible at this time.
India: One or more weeks, possibly followed by additional movement if demand remains stable. No August or September estimate is possible at this time.
Worldwide: three to six weeks
China: one to three weeks
India: none to two weeks
Mexico: although continued forward movement is expected, no specific projections are possible at this time.
Philippines: three to six weeks
Please be advised that the above ranges are estimates based upon the current demand patterns, and are subject to fluctuations during the coming months. The cut-off dates for upcoming months cannot be guaranteed, and no assumptions should be made until the formal dates are announced.
Allocation of “otherwise unused” numbers in accordance with Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) Section 202(a)(5)
INA Section 202(a)(5) provides that if total demand in a calendar quarter will be insufficient to use all available numbers in an Employment preference, then the unused numbers may be made available without regard to the annual per-country limits. Based on current levels of demand, there will be otherwise unused numbers in the Employment First and Second preferences. Such numbers may be allocated without regard to per-country limits, once a country has reached its preference annual limit. Since under INA Section 203(e) such numbers must be provided strictly in priority date order regardless of chargeability, greater number use by one country would indicate greater demand by applicants from that country with earlier priority dates. Based on amount and priority dates of pending demand and year-to-date number use, a different cut-off date could be applied to each oversubscribed country, for the purpose of assuring that the maximum amount of available numbers will be used. Note that a cut-off date imposed to control the use of “otherwise unused” numbers could be earlier than the cut-off date established to control number use under a quarterly or per-country annual limit. For example, at present the India Employment Second preference cut-off date governs the use of numbers under Section 202(a)(5), India having reached its Employment Second annual limit; the China Employment Second preference cut-off date governs number use under the quarterly limit, since China has not yet reached its Employment Second annual limit.
The rate of number use under Section 202(a)(5) is continually monitored to determine whether subsequent adjustments are needed in visa availability for the oversubscribed countries. This helps assure that all available Employment preference numbers will be used, while insuring that numbers also remain available for applicants from all other countries that have not yet reached their per-country limit.
As mentioned earlier, the number of applicants who may be “upgrading” their status from Employment Third to Employment Second preference is unknown. As a result, the cut-off date which governs use of Section 202(a)(5) numbers has been advanced more rapidly than normal, in an attempt to ascertain the amount of “upgrade” demand in the pipeline while at the same time administering use of the available numbers. This action risks a surge in demand that could adversely impact the cut-off date later in the fiscal year. However, it also limits the possibility that potential demand would not materialize and the annual limit would not be reached due to lack of cut-off date movement.