AILA regularly checks in with Charlie Oppenheim, who is the Department of State’s guru on Visa Bulletin numbers. Their most recent Check In with Charlie contains his projections for several major visa categories.
Notably he discusses the EB-3 Philippines and the rumors that 80% of the 28,000 pending Philippine EB-3 visas will never be used because those applicants have either already immigrated to the US or they have long abandoned their applications.
QUESTION: Do the numbers reported on the Waiting List for EB-3 Philippines reflect actual visa demand for this category? It has been suggested by some that as many as 80% of the 28,102 individuals listed in the report will not pursue their visa applications as a result of the visa backlog and lack of priority date movement over the years. If in fact actual demand to date has been less than expected, are you considering adjusting the priority date cut-off for this category?
Number use for EB-3 Philippines is at a fairly reasonable level for this point in the year. We have 5,000+ applicants which have already been reported to VO, and are only awaiting forward movement of the cut-off date. The cut-off date will continue to advance, but how quickly remains to be seen.
The "lag time" does not seem to have resulted in a lack of demand. The reason for the rapid movement of this date in FY 2015 was that we had worked through the eligible demand which was reported for overseas processing, and USCIS demand (approximately 950) was extremely low during the first four months of FY 2015. During the next three months, demand from USCIS exploded (approximately 3,000), perhaps due to a decreasing processing backlog.
Charlie addressed other categories too:
The recent aggressive forward movement of EB2 India is the result of less demand in the category than that which was previously anticipated. But, recent discussions with USCIS have led him to believe that the rate of demand in the coming months will reduce the rate of cut-off date movement.
EB-2 Worldwide: EB-2 Worldwide demand is low.
EB-2 and EB-3 China: The EB-2 China Final Action Date will continue to lag behind EB-3 China. At some point EB2-to-EB-3 “downgrades” may rebalance these categories. In the meantime, both EB-2 and EB-3 China are expected to continue to advance in March.