United States Department of State
Bureau of Consular Affairs

VISA BULLETIN

Number 20
Volume VIII
Washington, D.C.

IMMIGRANT NUMBERS FOR JULY 2000

A. STATUTORY NUMBERS

1. This bulletin summarizes the availability of immigrant numbers during July. Consular officers are required to report to the Department of State documentarily qualified applicants for numerically limited visas; the Immigration and Naturalization Service reports applicants for adjustment of status. Allocations were made, to the extent possible under the numerical limitations, for the demand received by June 9th in the chronological order of the reported priority dates. If the demand could not be satisfied within the statutory or regulatory limits, the category or foreign state in which demand was excessive was deemed oversubscribed. The cut-off date for an oversubscribed category is the priority date of the first applicant who could not be reached within the numerical limits. Only applicants who have a priority date earlier than the cut-off date may be allotted a number. Immediately that it becomes necessary during the monthly allocation process to retrogress a cut-off date, supplemental requests for numbers will be honored only if the priority date falls within the new cut-off date. Section 201 of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) sets an annual minimum family-sponsored preference limit of 226,000. The worldwide level for annual employment-based preference immigrants is at least 140,000. Section 202 prescribes that the per-country limit for preference immigrants is set at 7% of the total annual family-sponsored and employment-based preference limits, i.e., 25,620. The dependent area limit is set at 2%, or 7,320.

3. Section 203 of the INA prescribes preference classes for allotment of immigrant visas as follows:

FAMILY-SPONSORED PREFERENCES

First: Unmarried Sons and Daughters of Citizens: 23,400 plus any numbers not required for fourth preference.

Second: Spouses and Children, and Unmarried Sons and Daughters of Permanent Residents: 114,200, plus the number (if any) by which the worldwide family preference level exceeds 226,000, and any unused first preference numbers:

A. Spouses and Children: 77% of the overall second preference limitation, of which 75% are exempt from the per-country limit;

B. Unmarried Sons and Daughters (21 years of age or older): 23% of the overall second preference limitation.

Third: Married Sons and Daughters of Citizens: 23,400, plus any numbers not required by first and second preferences.

Fourth: Brothers and Sisters of Adult Citizens: 65,000, plus any numbers not required by first three preferences.

EMPLOYMENT-BASED PREFERENCES

First: Priority Workers: 28.6% of the worldwide employment-based preference level, plus any numbers not required for fourth and fifth preferences.

Second: Members of the Professions Holding Advanced Degrees or Persons of Exceptional Ability: 28.6% of the worldwide employment-based preference level, plus any numbers not required by first preference.

Third: Skilled Workers, Professionals, and Other Workers: 28.6% of the worldwide level, plus any numbers not required by first and second preferences, not more than 10,000 of which to "Other Workers."

Fourth: Certain Special Immigrants: 7.1% of the worldwide level.

Fifth: Employment Creation: 7.1% of the worldwide level, not less than 3,000 of which reserved for investors in a targeted rural or high-unemployment area, and 3,000 set aside for investors in regional centers by Sec. 610 of P.L. 102-395.

4. INA Section 203(e) provides that family-sponsored and employment-based preference visas be issued to eligible immigrants in the order in which a petition in behalf of each has been filed. Section 203(d) provides that spouses and children of preference immigrants are entitled to the same status, and the same order of consideration, if accompanying or following to join the principal. The visa prorating provisions of Section 202(e) apply to allocations for a foreign state or dependent area when visa demand exceeds the per-country limit. These provisions apply at present to the following oversubscribed chargeability areas: CHINA-mainland born, INDIA, MEXICO, and PHILIPPINES.

5. On the chart below, the listing of a date for any class indicates that the class is oversubscribed (see paragraph 1); "C" means current, i.e., numbers are available for all qualified applicants; and "U" means unavailable, i.e., no numbers are available. (NOTE: Numbers are available only for applicants whose priority date is earlier than the cut-off date listed below.)

                All Charge-
                ability Areas   CHINA-
                Except Those    mainland
                Listed          born        INDIA       MEXICO      PHILIPPINES

Family

1st          15DEC98         15DEC98     15DEC98     22JAN94     08APR88

2A*             15MAR96         15MAR96     15MAR96     01JUL94     15MAR96

2B              15FEB93         15FEB93     15FEB93     15SEP91     15FEB93

3rd          01JAN96         01JAN96     01JAN96     01JAN93     15NOV87

4th          01MAR89         01MAR89     15SEP87     01MAR89     01AUG79

*NOTE: For July, 2A numbers EXEMPT from per-country limit are available to applicants from all countries with priority dates earlier than 01JUL94. 2A numbers SUBJECT to per-country limit are available to applicants chargeable to all countries EXCEPT MEXICO with priority dates beginning 01JUL94 and earlier than 15MAR96. (All 2A numbers provided for MEXICO are exempt from the per-country limit; there are no 2A numbers for MEXICO subject to per-country limit.)

                All Charge-
                ability Areas   CHINA-
                Except Those    mainland
                Listed          born        INDIA       MEXICO      PHILIPPINES

Employment-
  Based

1st          C               C           C           C               C

2nd             C               01JAN98     01AUG99     C               C

3rd             C               15FEB97     01FEB97     C               C

Other           01JAN95         01JAN95     01JAN95     01JAN95      01JAN95
  Workers

4th          C               C           C           C               C

Certain         C               C           C           C               C
  Religious
  Workers

5th          C               C           C           C               C

Targeted        C               C           C           C               C
Employment Areas/
Regional Centers

The Department of State has available a recorded message with visa availability information which can be heard at (202) 663-1541. This recording will be updated in the middle of each month with information on cut-off dates for the following month.

B. DIVERSITY IMMIGRANT (DV) CATEGORY

Section 203(c) of the Immigration and Nationality Act provides a maximum of up to 55,000 immigrant visas each fiscal year to permit immigration opportunities for persons from countries other than the principal sources of current immigration to the United States. The Nicaraguan and Central American Relief Act (NCARA) passed by Congress in November 1997 stipulates that beginning with DV-99, and for as long as necessary, up to 5,000 of the 55,000 annually-allocated diversity visas will be made available for use under the NCARA program. This reduction has resulted in the DV-2000 annual limit being reduced to 50,000. DV visas are divided among six geographic regions. No one country can receive more than seven percent of the available diversity visas in any one year.

For July, immigrant numbers in the DV category are available to qualified DV-2000 applicants chargeable to all regions/eligible countries as follows. When an allocation cut-off number is shown, visas are available only for applicants with DV regional lottery rank numbers BELOW the specified allocation cut-off number:

                        All DV Chargeability
                        Areas Except Those
Region                  Listed Separately

AFRICA                  AF 26,600               Except: Ghana  AF 10,720
                                                        Nigeria  AF 12,955

ASIA                    AS  9,000

EUROPE                  EU 21,000               Except: Albania  EU 12,815

NORTH AMERICA           NA     54
 (BAHAMAS)

OCEANIA                 OC    825

SOUTH AMERICA,          SA  1,800
  CENTRAL AMERICA,
  and the CARIBBEAN

Entitlement to immigrant status in the DV category lasts only through the end of the fiscal (visa) year for which the applicant is selected in the lottery. The year of entitlement for all applicants registered for the DV-2000 program ends as of September 30, 2000. DV visas may not be issued to DV-2000 applicants after that date. Similarly, spouses and children accompanying or following to join DV-2000 principals are only entitled to derivative DV status until September 30, 2000. DV visa availability through the very end of FY-2000 cannot be taken for granted. Numbers could be exhausted prior to September 30. Once all numbers provided by law for the DV-2000 program have been used, no further issuances will be possible.

C. ADVANCE NOTIFICATION OF THE DIVERSITY (DV) IMMIGRANT CATEGORY RANK CUT-OFFS WHICH WILL APPLY IN AUGUST AND SEPTEMBER FOR THE DV-2000 PROGRAM

For August, immigrant numbers in the DV category are available to qualified DV-2000 applicants chargeable to all regions/eligible countries as follows. When an allocation cut-off number is shown, visas are available only for applicants with DV regional lottery rank numbers BELOW the specified allocation cut-off number:

                        All DV Chargeability
                        Areas Except Those
Region                  Listed Separately

AFRICA                  AF 28,850               Except: Nigeria  AF 13,675

ASIA                    CURRENT

EUROPE                  EU 21,000               Except: Albania  EU 14,650

NORTH AMERICA           NA     54
 (BAHAMAS)

OCEANIA                 OC    825

SOUTH AMERICA,          SA  1,915
  CENTRAL AMERICA,
  and the CARIBBEAN

For September, immigrant numbers in the DV category are available to qualified DV-2000 applicants chargeable to all regions/eligible countries as follows. When an allocation cut-off number is shown, visas are available only for applicants with DV regional lottery rank numbers BELOW the specified allocation cut-off number:

                        All DV Chargeability
                        Areas Except Those
Region                  Listed Separately

AFRICA                  CURRENT                 Except: Nigeria  AF 13,676

ASIA                    CURRENT

EUROPE                  EU 21,030               Except: Albania  EU 14,669

NORTH AMERICA           CURRENT
 (BAHAMAS)

OCEANIA                 OC    850

SOUTH AMERICA,          SA  2,011
  CENTRAL AMERICA,
  and the CARIBBEAN

D. POSSIBLE RETROGRESSION OF CUT-OFF DATES IN AUGUST OR SEPTEMBER

During the past several years cut-off date movement in all visa categories moved very quickly, in part because of the lack of demand by the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) for adjustment of status cases. In recent months INS has begun to request very large amounts of numbers in all visa categories. If visa number use continues at the current heavy level, it may be necessary to retrogress visa cut-off dates in several of the Family-sponsored preference categories. This action would be necessary to keep issuances within the annual numerical limits set by law. In particular, there could be retrogressions in the worldwide Family First and Second preference cut-off dates.

E. THE OPERATION OF THE IMMIGRANT NUMERICAL CONTROL SYSTEM

The Department of State is responsible for administering the provisions of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) relating to the numerical limitations on immigrant visa issuances. The following information provides a brief explanation of the operation of the immigrant number allotment and control system.

DEFINITION OF SOME TERMS

Allotment

The allocation of an immigrant number to a consular office or to INS. This number may be used for visa issuance or adjustment of status, or may be returned unused to the Visa Office (VO) for reincorporating into the pool of numbers available for later allocation during the fiscal year.

Foreign State Chargeability

Ordinarily an immigrant is chargeable for visa purposes to the numerical limitation for the foreign state or dependent area in which the immigrant's place of birth is located. Exceptions are provided for a child (unmarried and under 21 years of age) or spouse accompanying or following to join a principal to prevent the separation of family members, as well as for an applicant born in the U.S. or in a foreign state of which neither parent was a native or resident. Alternate chargeability is desirable when the visa cut-off date for the foreign state of a parent or spouse is more advantageous than that of the applicant's foreign state.

Priority Date

The priority date of a preference visa applicant is the filing date of the petition that accorded preference status.

Documentarily Qualified

The applicant has informed the consular processing office that they have obtained (after being requested to do so) all of the documents which are required to meet the formal visa application requirements.

HOW THE SYSTEM OPERATES

At the beginning of each month, the Visa Office receives a report from each immigrant visa processing post listing totals of documentarily qualified immigrant visa applicants in categories subject to numerical limitation.

Cases are grouped by foreign state chargeability/preference/priority date. No names are reported. During the first week of each month, this documentarily qualified demand is tabulated.

VO subdivides the annual preference and foreign state limitations which are specified by the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) into twelve monthly allotments. The totals of documentarily qualified applicants reported to VO, and the expected INS demand for numbers, are compared each month with the numbers available for the next regular allotment. This allows for the determination of the monthly cut-off dates, and the allotment of numbers for reported applicants who have priority dates within the newly established cut-off dates.

If there are sufficient numbers in a particular category to satisfy all reported documentarily qualified demand, the category is considered "current."

Whenever the total of documentarily qualified applicants in a category exceeds the supply of numbers available for allotment for the particular month, the category is considered to be "oversubscribed" and a visa availability cut-off date is established. The cut-off date is the priority date of the first documentarily qualified applicant who could not be accommodated for a visa number. Only persons with a priority date earlier than a cut-off date are entitled to allotment of a visa number. The cut-off dates are ordinarily the 1st, 8th, 15th, and 22nd of a month, since VO groups demand for numbers under these dates. (Priority dates of the first through seventh of a month are grouped under the 1st, the eighth through the fourteenth under the 8th, etc.)

VO attempts to establish the cut-off dates for the following month on or about the 8th of each month. The dates, along with visa allotments for use during that month, are immediately transmitted to consular posts, and also published in the Visa Bulletin.

BACKGROUND INFORMATION ON THE SYSTEM AND CLARIFICATION OF SOME FREQUENTLY MISUNDERSTOOD POINTS

Applicants entitled to immigrant status become documentarily qualified at their own initiative and convenience. By no means has every applicant with a priority date earlier than a prevailing cut-off date been processed for final visa action. On the contrary, visa allotments are made only on the basis of the total applicants reported documentarily qualified each month, and the expected INS number use. Demand for visa numbers can fluctuate from one month to another, with the inevitable impact on cut-off dates.

If an applicant is reported documentarily qualified but allocation of a visa number is not possible because of a visa availability cut-off date, the demand is recorded at VO and an allocation is made as soon as the applicable cut-off date advances beyond the applicant's priority date. Visa numbers are always allotted for all documentarily qualified applicants with a priority date before the relevant cut-off date, as long as the case had been reported to VO in time to be included in the monthly calculation of visa availability. There is no exception to this principle.

Allocations outside the regular monthly cycle are possible only in emergency or exceptional cases, and only at the request of the office processing the case. Note that should retrogression of a cut-off date be announced, VO can honor extraordinary requests for additional numbers only if the applicant's priority date is earlier than the retrogressed cut-off date.

Not all numbers allocated are actually used for visa issuance; some are returned to VO and are reincorporated into the pool of numbers available for later allocation during the fiscal year. The rate of return of unused numbers may fluctuate from month to month, just as demand may fluctuate. Lower returns mean fewer numbers available for subsequent reallocation. Fluctuations can cause cut-off date movement to slow, stop, or even retrogress. Retrogression is particularly possible near the end of the fiscal year as visa issuance approaches the annual limitations.

The annual per-country limitation is a cap which visa issuances to any single country may not exceed. Applicants compete for visas primarily on a worldwide basis. The country limitation serves to avoid monopolization of virtually all the annual limitation by applicants from only a few countries. This limitation is not a quota to which any particular country is entitled, however. Clearly all countries could not receive up to their numerical limit since the worldwide annual limitation would not permit visa issuances anywhere close to such a total.

Applicability of Section 202(e): When visa demand by documentarily qualified applicants from a particular country exceeds the amount of numbers available under the annual numerical limitation that country is considered to be oversubscribed. This oversubscription may require the establishment of a cut-off date, which is earlier than that which applies to a particular visa category on a worldwide basis. The prorating of numbers for an oversubscribed country follows the same percentages specified for the division of the worldwide annual limitation among the preferences. (Note that visa availability cut-off dates for oversubscribed areas cannot be later than worldwide cut-off dates, if any, for the respective preferences.)

F. OBTAINING THE MONTHLY VISA BULLETIN

The Department of State's Bureau of Consular Affairs offers the monthly Visa Bulletin on the Internet's Worldwide Web. The Internet web address to access the Bulletin is:

http://travel.state.gov

From the home page, select the Visa section that contains the Visa Bulletin.

Individuals may also obtain the Visa Bulletin by fax. From a fax phone, dial (202) 647-3000. Follow the prompts and enter in the code 1522 to have each Bulletin faxed.

To be placed on the Department of State’s e-mail subscription list for the Visa Bulletin, please provide your e-mail information to the following e-mail address:

VISABULLETIN@STATE.GOV

The Department of State also has available a recorded message with visa cut-off dates which can be heard at (202) 663-1541. The recording is normally updated by the middle of each month with information on cut-off dates for the following month.

The Visa Bulletin can also be contacted by e-mail at the following address:

VISABULLETIN@STATE.GOV

Department of State Publication 9514
CA/VO:June 9, 2000

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