Today, the U.S. Department of State published the Visa Bulletin for August 2019. Among the significant changes in availability of visa numbers is the final action dates for employment-based cases.

For first preference of employment-based cases, which encompasses persons seeking permanent residence as multinational executives/managers and persons of extraordinary ability, the visa number availability date has retrogressed from April 22, 2018 to July 1, 2016. This is significant to many clients who have pending applications for adjustment of status, or relied on the 2018 availability date in planning to permanently relocate to the United States based on approved petitions. This also affects companies in the U.S. that require the services of these individuals.

The July 1, 2016 date means that only persons whose immigrant petitions were filed prior to July 1, 2016 have available visa numbers for permanent immigration this coming month of August 2019. That is nearly a three-year wait time for individuals who are executives or managers of multinational companies, and those who have extraordinary ability in their fields, as well as outstanding professors and researchers.

The second preference category for persons of exceptional ability whose permanent residence will substantially benefit the national economy, culture, educational interests or welfare of the United States find themselves in a similar situation. For that classification, the visa numbers were current for the month of July 2019, meaning that visa numbers were immediately available. However, pursuant to the August 2019 visa bulletin, visa numbers are only available for those whose petitions were filed prior to January 1, 2017, signifying an approximately 18-month lag between the filing of an immigrant petition for persons in this category and the availability of the visa number that would allow them to immigrate to the United States.

It is unclear when these numbers are expected to once again move forward, allowing for applicants for permanent residence for those whose priority dates are later than those published in the August 2019 visa bulletin.

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