by Chris Musillo

The American Immigration Lawyers Association's Business Committee Chairs met with the Department of State's Charles Oppenheim last week. Based on the meeting, AILA predicts that EB-2 numbers will jump another six months when the March 2012 Visa Bulletin is published in mid-February. This jump of priority dates comes after several months of rapid progression of priority dates in the EB-2 category. The EB-2 progression will stop at that point until the summer. There was no prediction about the progression of EB-3 petitions.

Charles Oppenheim is the Department of State's Chief of the Control and Reporting Division. He is the officer who is responsible for producing the Visa Bulletin each month. Both Mr. Oppenheim and the USCIS are surprised at how low the demand has been for employment-based green cards in 2011-12. Mr. Oppenheim says that about 10-15% of all employment-based green cards are Consular Processed and 85-90% are Adjustment of Status petitions.

There has been anecdotal evidence that there are many EB-3 to EB-2 upgrades, although the true impact on EB-3 priority dates is still unknown. The slow advancement of priority dates in early Fiscal Year 2011 was due in part by these upgrades. Mr. Oppenheim's office does not clear an upgraded EB-3 number until the upgraded EB-2 petition is approved.

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