In March, the employment-based second preference (EB-2) cut-off date for India advances by 16 months — from September 1, 2005, to January 1, 2007 — and is expected to continue to advance in April and beyond, although not so significantly.

The EB-2 cut off for China also advances significantly, more than five months from March 15, 2010, to September 1, 2010, and is likely to continue for some months. The State Department (DOS) attributes China’s forward movement in part to light demand in the China family categories, along with an effort to provide sufficient time for new filings to be processed before the end of the fiscal year. However, because the employment-based third (EB-3) category cut-off date for China continues to be more than 13 months ahead of EB-2 China, foreign nationals and their employers degrade from EB-2 to EB-3, which in turn causes greater than normal fluctuations in both categories.

Cut-off dates also have advanced in March for the EB-3 Mexico, Philippines, and Worldwide categories. In fact, EB-3 Philippines is now consistent with the Worldwide cut-off date of 06/1/2014. (Unused EB-1 and EB-2 Philippines numbers are dropping down to the EB-3 category, and this has positively impacted the EB-3 category.)

On the family-based side, some Mexico family-based categories has seen rapid forward movement. DOS believes this has been caused by nonresponsiveness by applicants to the National Visa Center’s (NVC) “Agent of Choice” letters. It is unclear if the lack of response is attributable to applicants moving without updating their address with NVC, failing to pursue the case due to ineligibility, failing to respond because the priority date seems far away, or for other factors. A similar phenomenon occurred in the Worldwide categories in 2010 and 2011. At that time, a lack of demand prompted the family-based cut-off dates to advance significantly. However, when applicants finally responded in great numbers, a massive roll-back of the cut-off dates was required.

DOS advises that prompt response to an Agent of Choice letter helps facilitate the scheduling of visa appointments during the month the applicant’s priority date become current, and helps minimize the consequences of retrogression (i.e., an applicant missing out on a visa.)