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U.S. Visa Law & Policy

Visa Bulletin for March 2009

Number 6
Volume VIII
Washington, D.C.

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 annualminimum 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-
Sponsored
All
Chargeability
Areas Except
Those Listed
CHINA-
mainland born
INDIA MEXICO PHILIPPINES
1st  22JUL02 22JUL02 22JUL02 08OCT92 15JUL93
2A 01JUL04   01JUL04   01JUL04 15OCT01  01JUL04
2B 22JUN00 22JUN00 22JUN00   01MAY92 01DEC97
3rd 08AUG00  08AUG00  08AUG00 15OCT92 08JUN91
4th 01MAR98 15NOV97 01MAR98  08APR95 15MAY86

*NOTE:  For March, 2A numbers EXEMPT from per-country limit are available to applicants from all countries with priority dates earlier than 15OCT01. 2A numbers SUBJECT to per-country limit are available to applicants chargeable to all countries EXCEPT MEXICO with priority dates beginning 15OCT01 and earlier than 01JUL04. (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-
mainland born
INDIA MEXICO PHILIPPINES
1st C C C C C
2nd C 15FEB05 15FEB04 
3rd 01MAY05 22OCT02 15OCT01 15AUG03 01MAY05
Other
Workers
15MAR03 22OCT02 15OCT01 15MAR03 15MAR03
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-2009 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-2009 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 26,800 Except:
Egypt 16,000
Ethiopia 13,800
Nigeria 9,900
ASIA 13,200  Except:
Bangladesh  10,850
EUROPE 19,800   
NORTH AMERICA (BAHAMAS) 6  
OCEANIA 675  
SOUTH AMERICA, and the CARIBBEAN 850  

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-2009 program ends as of September 30, 2009. DV visas may not be issued to DV-2009 applicants after that date. Similarly, spouses and children accompanying or following to join DV-2009 principals are only entitled to derivative DV status until September 30, 2009. DV visa availability through the very end of FY-2009 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-2009 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 26,900  Except:
Egypt 17,400
Ethiopia 15,700
Nigeria 9,900
ASIA 17,400  Except:
Bangladesh 11,000
EUROPE 20,800   
NORTH AMERICA (BAHAMAS) 7  
OCEANIA 715  
SOUTH AMERICA, and the CARIBBEAN 900  

D. EXPIRATION OF TWO EMPLOYMENT VISA CATEGORIES

Employment Fourth Preference Certain Religious Workers:  Pursuant to Section 2(a) of the Special Immigrant Nonminister Religious Worker Program Act (Pub. L. No. 110-391), the nonminister special immigrant program expires on March 6, 2009. No SR-1, SR-2, or SR-3 visas may be issued overseas on or after March 6, 2009. Visas issued prior to this date may only be issued with a validity date of March 5, 2009, and all individuals seeking admission as a nonminister special immigrant must be admitted (repeat, admitted) into the U.S. no later than midnight March 5, 2009.

Employment Fifth Preference Pilot Categories(I5, R5):  Pursuant to Section 144 of the Consolidated Security, Disaster Assistance, and Continuing Appropriations Act, 2009 (Public Law 110-329), the immigrant investor pilot program will expire on March 6, 2009. No I5-1, I5-2, I5-3, R5-1, R5-2 or R5-3 visas may be issued after March 6, 2009.

The initial cut-off dates for the categories mentioned above have been listed as “current” for March. If these categories have not been extended based on legislative action those cut-off dates will become “unavailable” effective March 7, 2009. 

E. ACTIVE IMMIGRANT VISA APPLICANTS REGISTERED FOR PROCESSING AT CONSULAR OFFICES ABROAD AS OF JANUARY 2009

Most prospective immigrant visa applicants qualify for status under the law on the basis of family relationships or employer sponsorship. Entitlement to visa processing in these classes is established ordinarily through approval by Citizenship and Immigration Services (CIS) of a petition filed on the applicant's behalf. When such petitions are forwarded by CIS to the Department of State, applicants in categories subject to numerical limit are registered on the visa waiting list. Each case is assigned a priority (i.e., registration) date based on the filing date accorded to the petition. Visa issuance within each numerically limited category is possible only if the applicant's place on the waiting list has been reached, i.e., the case priority date is within the visa availability cut-off dates published each month by the Department of State. Family and employment preference applicants wait for their visa numbers to become current within their respective categories on a worldwide basis according to priority date; a per-country limit on such preference immigrants set by INA 202 places a maximum on the amount of visas which may be issued in a single year to applicants from any one country, however.

The Department of State requested that the National Visa Center at Portsmouth, New Hampshire provide the totals of applicants on the waiting list in the various numerically-limited family immigrant categories. Those totals are listed below, and reflect persons registered under each respective numerical limitation, i.e., the totals represent not only principal applicants or petition beneficiaries, but their spouses and children entitled to derivative status under INA 203(d) as well. It should be noted that applications for adjustment of status under INA 245 which are pending at Citizenship and Immigration Services offices are not included in the totals which are being presented at this time.

Family-Sponsored Preference Categories

F1:  228,787
F2A: 322,212
F2B: 481,726
F3: 484,230
F4: 1,206,397
Total: 2,723,352

Top Ten Countries

The ten countries with the highest number of waiting list registrants are listed below; together these represent 75.4% of the Department of State total. This list includes all countries with at least 45,000 persons on the waiting list. INA 202 sets an annual limit on the amount of family-sponsored preference visas which may be issued to applicants from any one country; the 2009 per-country limit is 15,820.

Mexico 961,744
Philippines 401,849
Dominican Republic  136,070
China 132,325
India  115,394
Vietnam  109,910
Bangladesh 

50,275

Haiti  50,029
El Salvador 48,776
Pakistan  45,905
All Others 671,075
Worldwide Total:  2,723,352

F. OBTAINING THE MONTHLY VISA BULLETIN

The Department of State's Bureau of Consular Affairs publishes the monthly Visa Bulletin on their website at Visa Bulletin under the Visas section. Alternatively, visitors may access the Visa Bulletin directly.

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, 2009