The May 2015 Visa Bulletin, released April 13, 2015, contained a major surprise for Philippines EB-3. That visa number was retrogressed to July 2007. While this was unwelcome news, MU Law has checked with several sources and it is our sense is that this retrogression is a temporary blip in immigrant visa processing for Philippines EB-3 applicants. Because there are very few Philippine EB-3 applications between 2009-2013, MU Law believes that the Philippines EB-3 date will return to at least 2014, although this may not happen until Fiscal Year 2016 begins in October 2015.
Philippine EB-3 applicants have claimed many older priority dates from the high demand era of 2007-2009. The Department of State had progressed the Philippine EB-3 number over the last year in an effort to spur these older applicants into filing their immigrant visa applications. The retrogression is recognition that this effort to spur older immigrant visa applicants has worked. The DOS now has had to tap on the breaks in order to process these older immigrant visa applications.
MU Law expects that the Philippines EB-3 number will remain in 2007 for the June 2015 Visa Bulletin. Because July is the start of the fourth and final fiscal quarter, the July 2015 Visa Bulletin may include a progression of the Philippine EB-3 date if overall demand for immigrant visas is low. It is common for the fourth fiscal quarter to include dramatic improvements in visa bulletin dates. For example, the Philippines EB-3 number advanced from November 07 (May 2014 Visa Bulletin) to January 09 (July 2014 Visa Bulletin) to April 2011 (September 2014 Visa Bulletin).
With the start of the next fiscal year (FY2016) in October 2015, the DOS should progress the Philippine EB-3 date to 2014. The DOS will then steadily increase the date throughout FY2016, perhaps even making the Philippines EB-3 date current early in FY2016.