Employment-based immigrant visa numbers are out for October of 2009 and the picture isn’t pretty. In April of 2009, the U.S. State Department warned that demand for employment-based immigrant visa numbers in the Worldwide, China and India Second and Third Preference categories would likely be high in FY 2009 resulting in a backlog or unavailability of visa numbers for the remainder of the fiscal year. In fact, by May of 2009, visa numbers were “Unavailable” across the board in the Third Preference category and remained that way through the end of the fiscal year. With the start of the new fiscal year on October of 2009, visa numbers are back to being available but in the Third Preference category have bounced backwards. First Preference and Second Preference Worldwide visa numbers remain current and Second Preference numbers for India and China advanced by a few weeks. Third Preference numbers which had been “Unavailable” since May of 2009 are now back on the board (Worldwide is June 1, 2002, China is February 22, 2002 and India is April 15, 2001) but have moved backwards since April of 2009.
What this means for the remainder of FY2010 is hard to determine. The State Department provided no commentary in the October Visa Bulletin about visa number movement going forward. MBBP, which handles a large number of employment-based cases, has seen in the past year the cleaning out and processing of virtually all of our cases with pre-2003 priority dates. If our experience is shared by others around the U.S., then it would suggest that the State Department is simply being cautious in setting visa number availability and that there may be forward movement in the months ahead. We will keep you up-dated over the course of the year but keep an eye on the movement of visa numbers yourself by viewing the current visa bulletins.