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U.S. Visa Law & Policy

Visa Bulletin for November 2005

Number 87
Volume VIII
Washington, D.C.

IMMIGRANT NUMBERS FOR NOVEMBER 2005

A. STATUTORY NUMBERS

1. This bulletin summarizes the availability of immigrant numbers during November. 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 October 11th 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 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.)

  All Chargeability Areas Except Those Listed CHINA-mainland born INDIA MEXICO PHILIPPINES
Family          
1st 22APR01 22APR01 22APR01 01JAN94 22JUL91
2A* 01DEC01 01DEC01 01DEC01 01NOV98 01DEC01
2B 22MAY96 22MAY96 22MAY96 15JAN92 22MAY96
3rd 08MAY98 08MAY98 08MAY98 08APR94 08JAN91
4th 15MAR94 15MAR94 01OCT93 01AUG91 01JUL83

*NOTE: For November, 2A numbers EXEMPT from per-country limit are available to applicants from all countries with priority dates earlier than 01NOV98. 2A numbers SUBJECT to per-country limit are available to applicants chargeable to all countries EXCEPT MEXICO with priority dates beginning 01NOV98 and earlier than 01DEC01. (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.)

  All Chargeability Areas Except Those Listed CH IN ME PH
Employment-
Based
         
1st C 01JAN00 01AUG02 C C
2nd C 01MAY00 01NOV99 C C
3rd 01MAR01 01MAY00 01JAN98 01JAN01 01MAR01
Schedule A Workers C C C C C
Other Workers 01OCT00 01OCT00 01OCT00 01OCT00 01OCT00
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.

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 November, 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 6,000 Except: Ethiopia 4,600
Nigeria 3,700
ASIA AS 1,700 Except: Bangladesh 1,650
EUROPE EU 3,900  
NORTH AMERICA (BAHAMAS) NA 5  
OCEANIA OC 200  
SOUTH AMERICA, and the CARIBBEAN SA 275  

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 DECEMBER

For December, 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 Region Listed Separately    
AFRICA AF 7,500 Ethiopia 6,800
Nigeria 5,400
ASIA AS 2,500 Except: Bangladesh 2,300
EUROPE EU 5,500  
NORTH AMERICA (BAHAMAS) NA 5  
OCEANIA OC 270  
SOUTH AMERICA, and the CARIBBEAN SA 400  

D. EMPLOYMENT PREFERENCE VISA AVAILABILITY

The backlog reduction efforts of both Citizenship and Immigration Services and the Department of Labor continue to result in very heavy demand for Employment-based numbers. The amount of cases currently being processed is sufficient to use all available numbers in many categories. The level of demand in the Employment categories is expected to be far in excess of the annual limits, and once established, cut-off date movements are likely to be slow.

WHAT CAUSES THE ESTABLISHMENT OF CUT-OFF DATES?

The Visa Office subdivides the annual preference and foreign state limitations specified in the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) into twelve monthly allotments. The totals of documentarily qualified applicants that have been reported to VO are compared each month with the numbers available for the next regular allotment and numbers are allocated to reported applicants in order of their priority dates, the oldest dates first.

  • If there are sufficient numbers in a particular category to satisfy all reported documentarily qualified demand, the category is considered “Current.” For example, if the Employment Third preference monthly target is 5,000 and there are only 3,000 applicants, the category is considered “Current”.
  • Whenever the total of documentarily qualified applicants in a category exceeds the supply of numbers available for allotment for the particular month, the category is considered to be “oversubscribed” and a visa availability cut-off date is established. The cut-off date is the priority date of the first documentarily qualified applicant who could not be accommodated for a visa number. For example, if the Employment Third preference monthly target is 5,000 and there are 15,000 applicants, a cut-off date would be established so that only 5,000 numbers would be used, and the cut-off date would be the priority date of the 5,001st applicant.

WILL THERE BE CUT-OFF DATES FOR ANY ADDITIONAL FOREIGN STATES IN THE FIRST AND SECOND PREFERENCE CATEGORIES?

It may be necessary to establish a cut-off date for the “All Chargeability Areas” Second preference category at some point during the second half of the fiscal year. It is too early to estimate whether future demand will warrant such action. As of October 1st, cut-off dates for the First and Second preferences for China and India were established due to heavy demand; cut-off date movement is expected to be limited until a demand pattern has been determined.

WHY ARE THERE CUT-OFF DATES THIS YEAR AS OPPOSED TO PREVIOUS YEARS, WHEN THE CATEGORIES WERE CURRENT?

While the Employment categories had been “Current” for almost four years, several important factors affected the decision to implement cut-offs for FY-2006.

  • Prior to July 2001, demand for Employment numbers was such that cut-off dates were in effect for many categories, and that is the case once again for FY-2006.

The reasons the Employment categories had become current were:

  • The American Competitiveness in the Twenty-First Century Act (AC21) recaptured a “pool” of 131,000 Employment numbers unused in fiscal years 1999 and 2000, and allowed those recaptured numbers to be used by the oversubscribed countries, and
  • The substantial decline in demand for numbers for adjustment of status cases prevented the annual limits from being reached for several years.

In FY-2006, we are faced with continuing heavy demand due to the DHS and DOL backlog reduction efforts, along with an Employment limit which is approximately 40% lower than that of FY-2005. The lower annual Employment limit is a result of the virtual elimination of the “pool” of recaptured AC21 numbers, returning us to the pre-July 2001 situation.

WHAT ABOUT SCHEDULE A NUMBERS?

The 50,000 Schedule A numbers will provide relief to many Employment preference applicants, since any Schedule A applicant whose priority date is beyond the relevant Employment preference cut-off date can be processed and charged against the 50,000 limit. It is expected that Schedule A numbers will be available on a “Current” basis throughout all of FY-2006.

HOW IS THE EMPLOYMENT-BASED PER-COUNTRY LIMIT CALCULATED?

Section 201 of the INA sets an annual minimum Family-sponsored preference limit of 226,000, while the worldwide annual level for Employment-based preference immigrants is at least 140,000. Section 202 sets the per-country limit for preference immigrants at 7% of the total annual Family-sponsored and Employment-based preference limits, i.e. a minimum of 25,620.

  • The annual per-country limitation of 7% is a cap, meaning visa issuances to any single country may not exceed this figure. This limitation is not a quota to which any particular country is entitled, however. The per-country limitation serves to avoid monopolization of virtually all the visa numbers by applicants from only a few countries.
  • The AC21 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.
  • In recent years, the application of the rules outlined in AC21 has allowed countries such as China – mainland born, India, and the Philippines to utilize large amounts of employment numbers which would have otherwise gone unused.
  • During FY-2006, due to anticipated heavy demand, the AC21 provisions are not expected to apply, and the amount of Employment numbers available to any single country will be subject to the 7% cap. It is anticipated that the addition of unused FY-2005 Family numbers and the remaining AC21 numbers to the 140,000 annual minimum will result in an FY-2006 annual Employment limit of 152,000. This will mean an Employment per-country limit for FY-2006 of approximately 10,650.
  • To illustrate the effect of the reduced per-county limitation during FY-2006 on the oversubscribed countries, it should be noted that during FY-2005 India used approximately 47,175 Employment numbers.

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:October 11, 2005