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U.S. Visa Law & Policy

Visa Bulletin for March 2006

Number 91
Volume VIII
Washington, D.C.

IMMIGRANT NUMBERS FOR MARCH 2006

A.  STATUTORY NUMBERS

1.  This bulletin summarizes the availability of immigrant numbers during March. 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 February 6th 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".  

Schedule A Workers: Employment First, Second, and Third preference Schedule A applicants are entitled to up to 50,000 “recaptured” numbers.

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 PHILIP-PINES
1st 22APR01 22APR01 22APR01 08AUG94 22AUG91
2A* 22FEB02 22FEB02 22FEB02 15MAY99 22FEB02
2B 08JUL96 08JUL96 08JUL96 15FEB92 08JUL96
3rd 22JUL98 22JUL98 22JUL98 01JAN95 08FEB91
4th 01OCT94 01OCT94 22MAR94 22MAY93 01OCT83

*NOTE:  For March, 2A numbers EXEMPT from per-country limit are available to applicants from all countries with priority dates earlier than 15MAY99.  2A numbers SUBJECT to per-country limit are available to applicants chargeable to all countries EXCEPT MEXICO with priority dates beginning 15MAY99 and earlier than 22FEB02.  (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 CHINA INDIA MEXICO PHILIPPINES
1st C 01JUL03 01JUL04 C C
2nd C 01JUL02 01JAN02 C C
3rd 01MAY01 01MAY01 01JAN01 22MAR01 01MAY01
Schedule A Workers C C C C C
Other Workers 01OCT01 01OCT01 01OCT01 01OCT01 01OCT01
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

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.

Employment Third Preference Other Workers Category:  Section 203(e) of the NACARA, as amended by Section 1(e) of Pub. L. 105-139, provides that once the Employment Third Preference Other Worker (EW) cut-off date has reached the priority date of the latest EW petition approved prior to November 19, 1997, the 10,000 EW numbers available for a fiscal year are to be reduced by up to 5,000 annually beginning in the following fiscal year.  This reduction is to be made for as long as necessary to offset adjustments under the NACARA program.  Since the EW cut-off date reached November 19, 1997 during Fiscal Year 2001, the reduction in the EW annual limit to 5,000 began in Fiscal Year 2002.                            

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-2006 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 March, immigrant numbers in the DV category are available to qualified DV-2006 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 Listed Separately    
AFRICA AF 14,200

Except:
Nigeria 9,550

ASIA AS 4,700  
EUROPE EU 9,850  
NORTH AMERICA (BAHAMAS) NA 7  
OCEANIA OC 500  
SOUTH AMERICA, and the CARIBBEAN SA 820  

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-2006 program ends as of September 30, 2006.  DV visas may not be issued to DV-2006 applicants after that date.  Similarly, spouses and children accompanying or following to join DV-2006 principals are only entitled to derivative DV status until September 30, 2006.  DV visa availability through the very end of FY-2006 cannot be taken for granted.  Numbers could be exhausted prior to September 30.

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

For April, immigrant numbers in the DV category are available to qualified DV-2006 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 Listed Separately    
AFRICA AF 16,950

Except:
Nigeria 10,900

ASIA AS 5,350  
EUROPE EU 11,225  
NORTH AMERICA (BAHAMAS) NA 8  
OCEANIA OC 610  
SOUTH AMERICA, and the CARIBBEAN SA 975  

D.  VISA AVAILABILITY DURING THE COMING MONTHS

Family-sponsored:   Movement of the cut-off dates consistent with those of recent months can be expected for the foreseeable future.

Employment-based:  Cut-off date movement in several categories during recent months has been greater than originally expected.  This is because demand by Citizenship and Immigration Services (CIS) offices for adjustment of status cases has been much less than anticipated.   Advancement of the cut-off dates at this time should prevent a situation late in the fiscal year where there are large amounts of numbers available but not enough time to use them.   Interested parties should be aware that the recent rate of cut-off date advances might not continue indefinitely; however, it is not possible to say at present how soon CIS number use will influence the cut-off date determinations.    Moreover, in some categories (for instance the “Other Workers” category), cut-off date retrogression is a definite possibility should demand increase dramatically.   Such retrogressions are not likely in the immediate future, but readers should be alert to the possibility as the year proceeds and watch for updates in this Bulletin.   Retrogressions are normally preceded by a period of no movement of the cut-off date, as we attempt to limit future demand for numbers under the annual limit.

E.  AVAILABILITY OF STATISTICAL (VISA) DATA ON THE CONSULAR AFFAIRS WEB SITE

The travel.state.gov website offers online access to many statistical reports issued by the Visa Office.  Here is a sampling of the reports that may be found online at present, with more being added on an ongoing basis:

  • Report of the Visa Office (FY-2000 through FY-2005)
    Annual reports provide statistical data on visa issuances by consular offices worldwide, as well as on the use of visa numbers in numerically-limited categories
  • Multi-Year Reports (FY-1992 through FY-2004)
    Tables provide statistical data for multiple years on a number of subjects (foreign state of chargeability, issuing office, etc.)
  • NIV Workload by Category (FY-2003 through FY-2005)
    Tables provide worldwide issuance and refusal data by visa category
  • NIV Detail Table (FY-1997 through FY-2005)
    Tables provide nonimmigrant visa issuances by visa class and by nationality

F.  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:February 6, 2006