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30 March 2010

Responding to Your Comments on Visa Numbers, Preference Categories, and Spillover

This post is in response to the outpouring of comments and questions on visa number usage, spillover of visa numbers into other preference categories, and the visa number backlog.

Preference Categories

The primary reasons for entering the immigration process in the U.S. are family and employment-based. To manage this process, family and employment-based immigration is broken into preference categories. Congress sets limits on how many individuals may immigrate to the U.S. each year (i.e. visa numbers) and also sets limits on how many individuals may immigrate within each preference category.

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.

Per-Country Limit

Section 202 of the INA 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.

The demand for visas from nationals of India, China, Mexico, and the Philippines is greater than the per-country limit and that is why these countries are listed separately in the Visa Bulletin. The Department of State (DOS) is responsible for reviewing visa number usage and determining how many numbers are currently available. You can check the monthly Visa Bulletin for more detailed information. The monthly Visa Bulletin allows beneficiaries to know where they stand in the immigration queue.


The chart below shows the visa numbers that are available for each category, as well as how unused visa numbers "spillover" into other preference categories. Because we strive to use the maximum number of visas available each year, there generally aren't any unused visa numbers available to spillover.

Family-Based (FB) Categories
Visa Number Limits
Immediate Relatives
Not subject to direct numerical limitations.
1st Preference (Unmarried sons and daughters of U.S. citizens)
23,400, plus any remaining FB visa numbers
2A Preference (Spouses and children of permanent residents)
87,934, plus a portion of any remaining visa numbers from the FB 1st  
2B Preference (Unmarried sons and daughters of permanent residents)
26,266, plus a portion of any remaining visa numbers from the FB 1st preference category, and any unused F2A numbers
3rd Preference (Married sons and daughters of U.S. citizens)
23,400, plus any remaining visa numbers from the FB 1st and 2nd preference categories
4th Preference (Brothers and sisters of U.S. citizens)
65,000, plus any remaining visa numbers from the FB 1st, 2nd, and 3rd preference categories

Employment-Based (EB) Categories
Visa Number Limits
1st Preference (Aliens of extraordinary ability, outstanding professors and researchers, and certain multinational executives and managers)
28.6% of the world-wide employment limit, plus any remaining visa numbers from the EB 4th and 5th preference category
2nd Preference (Members of the professions holding an advanced degree and national interest waivers)
28.6% of the world-wide employment limit, plus any remaining visa numbers from the EB 1st preference category
3rd Preference (Skilled workers and professionals)
28.6% of the world-wide employment limit, plus any remaining visa numbers from the EB 1st and 2nd preference categories
3rd Preference (Other workers)
No more than 10,000
4th Preference (Certain special immigrants)
7.1% of the world-wide employment limit
5th Preference (Employment Creation)
7.1% of the world-wide employment limit

We hope this helps our readers better understand how the visa number process works and welcome your comments.


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At May 20, 2010 at 10:03:00 PM EDT , Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have worked out that at 65,000 visas per year, adding all the numbers together, if one applied now it should take approx5 to 6 years to get a gc yet USCIS state 10years how do they know this. Some Service Centers either work faster or harder than others as they are processing at faster rates. Yet still we are told 10 years for a brother or sister to get GC.Does not make sense????????????????HELP????????????????????????????????????????????/

At May 25, 2010 at 7:02:00 PM EDT , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dear Director,
Thank you providing an avenue for posting our comments. One of the things I wanted to request is to stream line the adjucating process. There are certain steps you may take within your jurisdiction/control to let the people know that their green card is adjucated. People, especially EB3 India/China have been waiting more than 8 years. Knowing that their application has been approved will help them make future decisions. Most of them will help contribute US economy. Things such as Buying house, starting business, capital investments/purchases, etc will help US economy.
Perhaps you can come up with Interim Green Card Provision. I kindly request a transparent process for Green Card Adjucation/ Pre Approval (Waiting for Green Card Priority dates).

Another Provison would be to automatically move EB3 to EB2 if they have Masters Degree or 5years for US experience. Waiting for more than 5 years for Green Card should qualify for EB2 Category. People with Master and 10 years of US experience to EB1 Category, etc. This will help reallign the backlog, especially for EB2/EB3 categories for India/China.

Kindly implement suggestions posted to remove the backlog.We appreciate your effort in this direction.

At May 25, 2010 at 7:04:00 PM EDT , Anonymous Anonymous said...


1) Why do people have to renew EAD every two years?

We pay taxes like every one else. I pay my taxes, property tax and then this EAD tax which I pay every two years. This is very unfair.

2) Why do we need to have I-131 every year.
Of course I have the option to not file I-131 until I decide to travel.
But consider this. If I have a family emergency and have to travel what would I do then? I would have to wait till I get my I-131 which is often an unknown period of time.
This is an additional tax I have to pay and it is unfair.

3) Why do I have to renew my drivers license every year? Why can't I get it for 5 years or 10 years?

All this takes time, effort, money and causes a lot of aggravation.
Is the US GOVT saying hey, take it or leave it? Or just suck it up, we don't give a damn?
I am thinking of relocating back. I recently bought a house and am working on my masters. Another two years of this mess, finish my masters and I think I am ready to go back. Can't handle it anymore.
I have learned to accept that the "American dream" will never come true for me.
But I still think this is a very wonderful country and will feel sad that I could not be part of this great country and my kids won't have a chance to grow up here.
But to all the guys who posted here it is my advice that we should learn to take the message. It is loud and clear. Suck it up or leave. Cut your losses (The amount that you paid the attorneys and the application fee that was hiked up recently.)
Don't you see the connection? They allowed thousands of people to apply for 485 and at the same time jacked up the prices.
Guys admit it we have been duped by some people who are way smarter that all of us. Accept it like a real man and learn to respect them. Their ancestors worked hard to make this country like this, beautiful and strong and open. We all know how wonderful it is to live here. Go back to your country and work to make it better with your hard work and take with you whatever savings you have made here.
Cut your losses and leave. That is what I plan to do. To all the people who have posted here. I sincerely hope you get lucky and get to realize the American dream and get out of the "slavery" mode you and I are in now. I have lost all hope in that. Two more years of slavery and that's it for me.
God Bless America!!!

At May 30, 2010 at 7:55:00 PM EDT , Anonymous Anonymous said...

my problem with the immigration system is the USCIS keeps approving my petition over and over and every time the embassy keeps on denying it. every time the
consular is finding a different reason not it issue a visa . its like the embassy is saying the uscis officer don't know what they are doing and not doing their job and the embassy employee is doing their job
by keep denying my petition .

At June 3, 2010 at 12:42:00 AM EDT , Anonymous Anonymous said...

My priority date is 28 Apr 2003 under category EB3. The June 2010 VB shows cut-off date at 22 June 2003. Therefore, my PD is current and is very ripe for adjudication. I have an extremely emergent need to travel abroad. Given this situation at this time, which one is a better avenue: file an AP or wait for the GC? Thanks

At June 6, 2010 at 11:27:00 AM EDT , Anonymous Anonymous said...

There are concerns among immigration community that L1A>>EB1C are being misused as there is no LC requirement for L1A and to file for GC.

Lower categories wouldn't get spillover, They remain backlogged, When more people getting GC in this route quickly, .

Why no LC requirement for this category?
Is it not unfair?

At June 17, 2010 at 1:37:00 PM EDT , Anonymous Anonymous said...

I know and am sure USCIS and Visa centre does a great job but I am wanting to immigrate here and marry my fiance but it all seems to take so long. I am and Australian and I understand the amount of illegals her too and that there is a system. But we have een waiting for 3 months and now I have to go back to Australia again as I can't stay here till I hear from US consulate in Sydney to get visa number after being approved here with our 129F application..My fiance also served 26 years in the army for his country and we get a request to prove he is a citizen? even though we had sent that with forms. There has to be a better way I just pray this happens quickly as I love this country and am happy to be a citizen here when the time comes that I can apply.

At June 18, 2010 at 3:50:00 AM EDT , Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree with the post above... I personally know a few folks, who don't really qualify for EB1, came to the USA a year or 2 back, and they already have EADs! These are guys with less than 5 years of work exp..... EB1 is clearly being misused........

At June 19, 2010 at 3:24:00 AM EDT , Anonymous Anonymous said...

My I-140 petion with PD 2006(EB-3 ROW)was approved 3 years back.My case has been documentarily qualified at NVC.

Unfortunately my company collapsed & now i am planning to file new I-140 .Can I recapture my old PD 2006 for my new I-140 petition.

At July 3, 2010 at 7:16:00 PM EDT , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Respected Sir/ Madam,

Thanks for the information. Can you please advise us what is the visa spillover expected for the current year 2010 and how it is going to be applied? Thanks in advance.


At July 13, 2010 at 1:30:00 PM EDT , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Visa spill over should move downwards into categories, you are promoting people to file new cases as EB2.

At July 16, 2010 at 2:58:00 PM EDT , Anonymous Anonymous said...

I really think that this in unfair, can you imagine people waitng so long for a visa number to get into the US, come on we are doing this legally, would you rather us to do it illegally

At July 16, 2010 at 3:01:00 PM EDT , Anonymous Anonymous said...

My sister started filling for me in jun 2005, we recently got information that the petiton was approve, all i have to do now is to wait on the visa number, which from my understanding can take years, im currently living in Jamaica, does anyone know if this is true or false that i have to wait years before i get the number. And when i get the number what is the next step.

At July 16, 2010 at 3:07:00 PM EDT , Anonymous Anonymous said...

my petition for my i130 has been approved no im waiting for for visa number, i think i fall in 4th on the visa bulletin, come on the wait is rediculus

At July 25, 2010 at 1:39:00 PM EDT , Anonymous Rich in Texas said...

I just don't understand why the US Government makes it so difficult for non-citizens to legally emigrate to the US. Waiting for paperwork that takes years is not a solution for most people and so they choose to enter the country illegally. And as illegal residents they find themselves trapped in an underground economy with no real chance to enjoy the American Dream.
Let's make it easier for people to enter the country legally. Let's document these new arrivals and enable them to become full-fledged members of American society.

At July 29, 2010 at 11:42:00 PM EDT , Anonymous john said...

Rich In Texas - Making it easier for illegals to become legal will result in America becoming overpopulated and there will be so many immigrants who are prepared to work for minimum wages that your own young people will not be able to find work.
South Africa is faced with a crisis where the new government allowed all neighboring nations easy access into the country and as a result half of the South African work force are unemployed. This has resulted in Xenophobia incidents around the country.

At August 9, 2010 at 11:33:00 PM EDT , Anonymous Paul said...

How does everyone think the economy overall is pacing to do before Christmas? Has the trucking industry started the usual tick up during the summer getting the stores ready for Christmas yet?

At August 11, 2010 at 11:38:00 PM EDT , Anonymous Anonymous said...

lol that is so expensive.

At August 12, 2010 at 9:13:00 PM EDT , Anonymous Anonymous said...

UCIS should list the Category for the EB2 Visa as the public needs to know how many Visa's have been granted for each professional category like Accountant, Shipping Consultant etc as there is no dearth of people available for such jobs in the United States. This can be cross checked with unemployment bureau of each state.

At August 28, 2010 at 7:38:00 AM EDT , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Why not Re-Open the I-245...???? no need an aproval ftom the congress and the immigrants that are here in a process of residency can pay the fees for wait here... and make a path for the people that are here...

I this this will save USCIS and NVC a lot of time and effort - very good idea

At September 6, 2010 at 2:30:00 PM EDT , Anonymous Anonymous said...

If there is such a large backlog in all the different categories, why do USCIS keep accepting and approving applications? This is all a money making scam and they are playing with peoples lives. STOP sccepting applications until backlogs are cleared. I have suckered into the system as well. I ended up having a child while studying here my marriage fell apart and I lost my home back home so there was no where to go back to. I decided to to legally file for change of status through my employer while I was on a work permit. I got I140 approval so I thought I was ok and on the right track. Now the DMV will not renew my driver's license. I have my approval from Department of Labor, my social security card and my I140 approved in 2006. They refuse to accept it because it is over three years. USCIS know they are not taking apps for I485 until backlog is cleared, am I suppose to wait for over 2 years before I can renew my license? How I am I suppose to get around with my two minor children. I came to this country legally and am going through legal chanels to get my green card. Why not just tell us all to go home instead of having us in limbo. I feel like I am in prison.

At September 10, 2010 at 1:32:00 AM EDT , Anonymous Anonymous said...


At September 12, 2010 at 2:05:00 PM EDT , Anonymous Anonymous said...

H1B Visas are being issued for Accountants. There are so many accountants in the US displaced without jobs. One needs to cancel visas issued in this category for the year 2010.

At September 12, 2010 at 2:10:00 PM EDT , Anonymous Anonymous said...

L1 and H1B visas have been issued by your department with no domestic worker in the company. How do you check on this type of anomaly.

At September 19, 2010 at 6:03:00 PM EDT , Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am all for diversity. I would think the department follows due diligence when they issue H1-Bs to non0immigrnats who wish to work here.

At September 29, 2010 at 3:46:00 PM EDT , Anonymous Anonymous said...

When the per country limit is divided as equal percentage for each of the categories EB1, EB2 and EB3 , I think spill over or unused visas should also be equally given to all the categories with backlogs. Or at least ease the EB2 porting from Eb3, Since there are many professionals still stuck in EB3 even with lot of experiences when compared to EB2.USCIS will be greatly appreciated if they come up with some rules to decrease the EB3 backlogs. It is a lot of stress to lead an unstable life and that too with so many limitations.

At February 10, 2011 at 8:08:00 PM EST , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sir, why all spillover goes to EB2 applicants, where as the number of applicants waiting in queue is very high in EB3? The wait time in EB3, specially EB3-I is touching 10 years, and growing. USCIS is still approving 140 in EB3 category. Current 60K pending cases can take another 20 years to approve. Is this a justice for EB3?

At March 8, 2011 at 7:36:00 PM EST , Anonymous Jack said...

I think, the US need to resemble back the law regarding on the VISA number application. For me it is too strict.

Plus, the immigrant had helped alot towards US modernization in the capacity of construction aspect

At March 22, 2011 at 11:48:00 AM EDT , Anonymous Anonymous said...

The USA has the best system of Government in the world but its sad to note the many complaints against the USCIS because of an outdated immigration system.
Till the US sets this right it should stop milking people by not accepting any applications under any category.The Congress should wake up before its too late,lest China,India,Brazil take over the world!

At May 11, 2011 at 12:26:00 PM EDT , Anonymous Matthew David said...

Sorry but the main 2 questions that have been asked have basically been ignored. No meaningul information is being provided. What we would really like to know is, if there would be a way to provide relief of some kind to the people stuck in the long backlog.

At May 11, 2011 at 1:06:00 PM EDT , Anonymous Κατασκευή Ιστοσελίδων said...

Matthew David, i think that those two main questions should be answered by a pro, not by us. We can just give our opinion :D

At June 23, 2011 at 11:06:00 PM EDT , Anonymous George said...

I think if the process of citizenship was not so much of a hassle we, might have a lot less illegals. I know we can not handle the whole world in one country, we barely have enough jobs for ourselves. But I get the feeling if there was less illegals, we would be able to save a bundle every year.

At September 27, 2011 at 11:20:00 PM EDT , Anonymous Anonymous said...

And how is this supposed to help? One look at the Visa bulletin would have given the same info. How are you capturing the spillover for one and how are the uncaptured Visa numbers from the past being applied to clear EB-2?

At July 11, 2013 at 12:36:00 PM EDT , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Retention of Priority Date while Porting from EB3 to EB2 is grossly unfair to EB2's, in particular EB2-India, who are already waiting in line. Take the case of A in EB3 with Priority date 2005 and B in EB2 with Priority Date 2010. When A applies for porting in 2011 it should be borne in mind that in 2005, A was not eligible for EB2 - A became eligible for EB2 only in 2011, but porting of the 2005 Priority Date makes A jump ahead of B - how is that fair to B ?
This is exactly what is happening in the case of India. EB2 PD advanced to May 2010 in March/April 2012 and then retrogressed to Aug 2007 in May 2012.
The I-485 inventory for EB2-India, which was 12,950 in Jan 2012 was 39,577 in May 2012 per USCIS data, an increase of 26,627 over 4 months, which can only be explained by widespread porting from EB3 to EB2, retaining the EB3 priority date.
I am an EB2 from India with PD Aug 2010 and after getting as close as May 2010-Current, find myself retrogressed by many years because of unfair and illogical porting of priority dates from EB3 to EB2
As a client of USCIS, I ask for fair and transparent processing of the EB-India category.

At June 17, 2014 at 7:14:00 PM EDT , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Most of the EB2 applicants don't like the porting of EB3 to EB2, but don't mind to consume EB1 balance visa number. They need to understand the effort took by EB3 to get qualify in EB2. Porting process is not simple to fill in a form and boom, you are done.

At September 5, 2014 at 1:23:00 AM EDT , Blogger Eddie Pierce said...

Immigration is a concept that is widely talked about and debated. In the past five years, there have been about 8 million immigrants that came to the US, a statistical high, which has stirred much public debate.

Los angeles business

At September 13, 2014 at 6:46:00 AM EDT , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi..Please help in letting know the lottery results of H1 B for the year 2014 in India. My employer has filed petition for my friend on April 2014, till then the status is "Awaiting lottery results". What is the reason for holding the status as awaiting. All my collegues got petition approved.(Form : I129) Please help. Thanks in advance.

At August 26, 2015 at 1:00:00 AM EDT , Blogger Carolina Chavez said...

if the EOIR judge set aside decision for the soul reason that the allotted number of visa's have already been issued for the fiscal year until October 2015. How do I find out what number I am for the next fiscal year??

At November 20, 2015 at 2:06:00 AM EST , Blogger Unknown said...

Everybody complaints about waiting 3 to 5 years, instead we mexicans wait o ver 20 years to get a Greencard, and most of us have universities degrees. And we don't complaint like chinesse or others. THE TRUTH IS THAT THE IMMIGRATION SYSTEM IS OBSOLETE AND ABSURD, IT NEEDS TO CLEAR THE BACKLOG AND SPEEDUP THE BACKGOUND CHECK.

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