January 28, 2019

The U.S. Department of State has updated its Visa Bulletin for February 2019. This, in comparison to the Visa Bulletin for January 2019  does not show much movement on priority dates to file your I-485 adjustment of status application for Family-Based or Employment-Based petitions. China and India continue to have the most backlogs which is historically the case. With Family-Based petitions, the biggest movement was for the Philippines in the Fourth Preference Category for Brothers and Sisters of Adult U.S. Citizens which moved forward almost eight months from April 22, 1997 in January to December 8, 1997 in February. With the Employment-Based petitions, there has been no movement in the First Preference “Priority Workers” category, with India, Guatemala, El Salvador, and Honduras having no change in the First Preference, Second Preference “Advanced Degree” holders, Third Category “Skilled Workers” and Fourth Preference “Other Workers”. In the Second Preference Category, China moved forward two months in February, with a priority date of November 1, 2015 from September 8, 2015 in January. Surprisingly yet is the Philippines moving forward two months in February, to October 1, 2017.

While the USCIS is making progress to adjudicate Family-Based and Employment-Based petitions, it is no surprise that movement has been slow in January and February, especially with the Government shut-down and uncertainty with various immigration programs. Take the EB-5 Immigrant Investor Regional Center Program, which relies on Federal Funding. On December 21, 2018, during the U.S. government shutdown, this EB-5 Program expired as Congress was not authorized to continue the program. This affected all regional center applications and individual petitions as the USCIS could not accept new I-924 Forms, “Application for Regional Center Designation Under the Immigrant Investor Program”. Any pending I-924 Forms were placed on hold, with grave uncertainty of the future of the program. While China continues to have the highest backlog, all other countries were also affected with the inability to file their I-485 “Applications for Adjustment of Status”. The shutdown essentially put a halt to all of the Regional Center Applications. Fortunately, the shutdown ended on January 25, 2019 and the EB-5 Regional Center Program is re-authorized for a three-week extension through to February 15, 2019. While the USCIS will begin adjudicating these applications right away and Investors will have the ability to file their adjustment of status applications and attend their Investor interviews, it is still an uncertainty what will happen to the program after February 15, 2019 as President Trump has already made statements that another shutdown is “certainly an option”.  

If your priority date is “current” and you are ready to file your I-485 adjustment of status, please contact us for your next steps.