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U.S. Visa Law & Policy

Visa Bulletin for January 2005

Number 77
Volume VIII
Washington, D.C.

IMMIGRANT NUMBERS FOR JANUARY 2005

A. STATUTORY NUMBERS

1. This bulletin summarizes the availability of immigrant numbers during January. Consular officers are required to report to the Department of State documentarily qualified applicants for numerically limited visas; the Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services in the Department of Homeland Security reports applicants for adjustment of status. Allocations were made, to the extent possible under the numerical limitations, for the demand received by December 8th in the chronological order of the reported priority dates. If the demand could not be satisfied within the statutory or regulatory limits, the category or foreign state in which demand was excessive was deemed oversubscribed. The cut-off date for an oversubscribed category is the priority date of the first applicant who could not be reached within the numerical limits. Only applicants who have a priority date earlier than the cut-off date may be allotted a number. Immediately that it becomes necessary during the monthly allocation process to retrogress a cut-off date, supplemental requests for numbers will be honored only if the priority date falls within the new cut-off date.

2. Section 201 of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) sets an annual minimum family-sponsored preference limit of 226,000. The worldwide level for annual employment-based preference immigrants is at least 140,000. Section 202 prescribes that the per-country limit for preference immigrants is set at 7% of the total annual family-sponsored and employment-based preference limits, i.e., 25,620. The dependent area limit is set at 2%, or 7,320

3. Section 203 of the INA prescribes preference classes for allotment of immigrant visas as follows:

FAMILY-SPONSORED PREFERENCES

First:  Unmarried Sons and Daughters of Citizens: 23,400 plus any numbers not required for fourth preference.

Second:  Spouses and Children, and Unmarried Sons and Daughters of Permanent

Residents:  114,200, plus the number (if any) by which the worldwide family preference level exceeds 226,000, and any unused first preference numbers:

A. Spouses and Children:  77% of the overall second preference limitation, of which 75% are exempt from the per-country limit;

B. Unmarried Sons and Daughters (21 years of age or older):  23% of the overall second preference limitation.

Third:  Married Sons and Daughters of Citizens:  23,400, plus any numbers not required by first and second preferences.

Fourth:  Brothers and Sisters of Adult Citizens:  65,000, plus any numbers not required by first three preferences.

EMPLOYMENT-BASED PREFERENCES

First:  Priority Workers:  28.6% of the worldwide employment-based preference level, plus any numbers not required for fourth and fifth preferences.

Second:  Members of the Professions Holding Advanced Degrees or Persons of Exceptional Ability:  28.6% of the worldwide employment-based preference level, plus any numbers not required by first preference.

Third:  Skilled Workers, Professionals, and Other Workers:  28.6% of the worldwide level, plus any numbers not required by first and second preferences, not more than 10,000 of which to "Other Workers".

Fourth:  Certain Special Immigrants:  7.1% of the worldwide level.

Fifth:  Employment Creation:  7.1% of the worldwide level, not less than 3,000 of which reserved for investors in a targeted rural or high-unemployment area, and 3,000 set aside for investors in regional centers by Sec. 610 of P.L. 102-395.

4. INA Section 203(e) provides that family-sponsored and employment-based preference visas be issued to eligible immigrants in the order in which a petition in behalf of each has been filed. Section 203(d) provides that spouses and children of preference immigrants are entitled to the same status, and the same order of consideration, if accompanying or following to join the principal. The visa prorating provisions of Section 202(e) apply to allocations for a foreign state or dependent area when visa demand exceeds the per-country limit. These provisions apply at present to the following oversubscribed chargeability areas: CHINA-mainland born, INDIA, MEXICO, and PHILIPPINES.

5. On the chart below, the listing of a date for any class indicates that the class is oversubscribed (see paragraph 1); "C" means current, i.e., numbers are available for all qualified applicants; and "U" means unavailable, i.e., no numbers are available. (NOTE: Numbers are available only for applicants whose priority date is earlier than the cut-off date listed below.)

Family All Chargeability Areas Except Those Listed CHINA-mainland born INDIA MEXICO PHILIPPINES
1st 22DEC00 22DEC00 22DEC00 15OCT94 15OCT90
2A* 15AUG00 15AUG00 15AUG00 15OCT97 15AUG00
2B 01AUG95 01AUG95 01AUG95 15FEB92 01AUG95
3rd 22DEC97 22DEC97 22DEC97 22JAN95 01JUN90
4th 22NOV92 22NOV92 08APR92 22NOV92 22SEP82

*NOTE:  For January, 2A numbers EXEMPT from per-country limit are available to applicants from all countries with priority dates earlier than 15OCT97. 2A numbers SUBJECT to per-country limit are available to applicants chargeable to all countries EXCEPT MEXICO with priority dates beginning 15OCT97 and earlier than 15AUG00. (All 2A numbers provided for MEXICO are exempt from the per-country limit; there are no 2A numbers for MEXICO subject to per-country limit.)

Employment-
Based
All Chargeability Areas Except Those Listed CH IN ME PH
1st C C C C C
2nd C C C C C
3rd C 01JAN02 01JAN02 C 01JAN02
Other Workers C C C C C
4th C C C C C
Certain Religious Workers C C C C C
5th C C C C C
Targeted Employment Areas/Regional Centers C C C C C

CH = China (mainland born), IN = India, ME = Mexico, PH = Phillipines

The Department of State has available a recorded message with visa availability information which can be heard at: (area code 202) 663-1541. This recording will be updated in the middle of each month with information on cut-off dates for the following month.

B. DIVERSITY IMMIGRANT (DV) CATEGORY

Section 203(c) of the Immigration and Nationality Act provides a maximum of up to 55,000 immigrant visas each fiscal year to permit immigration opportunities for persons from countries other than the principal sources of current immigration to the United States. The Nicaraguan and Central American Relief Act (NACARA) passed by Congress in November 1997 stipulates that beginning with DV-99, and for as long as necessary, up to 5,000 of the 55,000 annually-allocated diversity visas will be made available for use under the NACARA program. This reduction has resulted in the DV-2005 annual limit being reduced to 50,000. DV visas are divided among six geographic regions. No one country can receive more than seven percent of the available diversity visas in any one year.

For January, immigrant numbers in the DV category are available to qualified DV-2005 applicants chargeable to all regions/eligible countries as follows. When an allocation cut-off number is shown, visas are available only for applicants with DV regional lottery rank numbers BELOW the specified allocation cut-off number:

Region All DV Chargeability Areas Except Those Region Listed Separately    
AFRICA AF 17,400 Except: Nigeria 14,600
ASIA AS 5,100 Except: Bangladesh 4,300
EUROPE EU 14,900  
NORTH AMERICA (BAHAMAS) NA 11  
OCEANIA OC 460  
SOUTH AMERICA, and the CARIBBEAN SA 875  

Entitlement to immigrant status in the DV category lasts only through the end of the fiscal (visa) year for which the applicant is selected in the lottery. The year of entitlement for all applicants registered for the DV-2005 program ends as of September 30, 2005. DV visas may not be issued to DV-2005 applicants after that date. Similarly, spouses and children accompanying or following to join DV-2005 principals are only entitled to derivative DV status until September 30, 2005. DV visa availability through the very end of FY-2005 cannot be taken for granted. Numbers could be exhausted prior to September 30. Once all numbers provided by law for the DV-2005 program have been used, no further issuances will be possible.

C. ADVANCE NOTIFICATION OF THE DIVERSITY (DV) IMMIGRANT CATEGORY RANK CUT-OFFS WHICH WILL APPLY IN FEBRUARY

For February, immigrant numbers in the DV category are available to qualified DV-2005 applicants chargeable to all regions/eligible countries as follows. When an allocation cut-off number is shown, visas are available only for applicants with DV regional lottery rank numbers BELOW the specified allocation cut-off number:

Region All DV Chargeability Areas Except Those Region Listed Separately    
AFRICA AF 20,225 Except: Nigeria 17,600
ASIA AS 5,700 Except: Bangladesh 4,700
EUROPE EU 16,600  
NORTH AMERICA (BAHAMAS) NA 13  
OCEANIA OC 535  
SOUTH AMERICA, and the CARIBBEAN SA 1,125  

D. OVERSUBSCRIPTION OF THE EMPLOYMENT-BASED THIRD PREFERENCE CATEGORY FOR CHINA-MAINLAND BORN, INDIA, AND THE PHILPPINES

In recent years, all Employment-based categories have been “Current” for all countries, primarily as a result of two factors:

1) The American Competitiveness in the Twenty-First Century Act (Title I of Pub. L. 106 - 313 enacted on October 17, 2000) contained several provisions intended to increase the availability of Employment-based numbers. Pub. L. 106-313 recaptured those Employment-based numbers that were available but not used in Fiscal Years 1999 and 2000, creating a “pool” of 130,107 numbers which could be allocated to applicants in the Employment First, Second, and Third preference categories once the annual Employment-based numerical limit has been reached. Approximately 101,000 of these “pool” numbers remain available for use during FY-1005. Pub. L. 106-313 also removed the per-country limit in any calendar quarter in which overall applicant demand for Employment-based visa numbers is less than the total of such numbers available.

2) Changes in CIS processing procedures during the past two years created a significant backlog of cases and a consequent reduction in demand for numbers.

During the time that the Employment-based categories have remained “Current” many tens of thousands of applicants have become eligible to file for adjustment of status. Last summer, CIS notified Congress of its intent to eliminate its current backlogs by the end of FY-2006. As a result of the CIS backlog reduction effort, we are now experiencing very heavy visa demand as CIS has begun to process cases to conclusion. Section 201(a)(2) of the Immigration and Nationality Act states that not more than 27 percent of the Employment-based annual limit may be used in each of the first three quarters of a fiscal year. Based on the current rate of demand, the 27 percent level for the first quarter of FY-2005 will be exceeded by the end of December.

It has therefore become necessary to impose an Employment-based Third preference cut-off date for January in order to limit number use during the second quarter. Many of the cases have priority dates that are several years old, and the cut-off date represents the first priority date that cannot be accommodated for final processing. The cut-off date will apply only to the following chargeability areas: China-mainland born, India, and Philippines. Cut-off date movement during the remainder of FY-2005 depends on the extent of future visa demand. No specific predictions are possible at this time.

E. OBTAINING THE MONTHLY VISA BULLETIN

The Department of State's Bureau of Consular Affairs offers the monthly "Visa Bulletin" on the INTERNET'S WORLDWIDE WEB. The INTERNET Web address to access the Bulletin is:

http://travel.state.gov

From the home page, select the VISA section which contains the Visa Bulletin.

To be placed on the Department of State's e-mail subscription list for the “Visa Bulletin”, please send an e-mail to the following e-mail address:

listserv@calist.state.gov

and in the message body type:  Subscribe Visa-Bulletin First name/Last name (example: Subscribe Visa-Bulletin Sally Doe)

To be removed from the Department of State's e-mail subscription list for the “Visa Bulletin”, send an e-mail message to the following e-mail address:

listserv@calist.state.gov

and in the message body type:  Signoff Visa-Bulletin

The Department of State also has available a recorded message with visa cut-off dates which can be heard at: (area code 202) 663-1541. The recording is normally updated by the middle of each month with information on cut-off dates for the following month.

Readers may submit questions regarding Visa Bulletin related items by e-mail at the following address:

VISABULLETIN@STATE.GOV

(This address cannot be used to subscribe to the Visa Bulletin)
Department of State Publication 9514
CA/VO:December 8, 2004