At an August 16 liaison meeting with the State Department, the American Immigration Lawyers Association was made aware that following a review of the dates listed in the September 2019 Visa Bulletin, the entire EB-3 category has immediately been made “unavailable” for the remainder of FY2019. This means that the annual limits have been reached on these categories and additional numbers are unavailable until the beginning of the next fiscal year, October 1, 2019. The “unavailable” status is not limited to EB-3 China and EB-3 India but also includes the EB-3 Worldwide, EB-3 El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras, EB-3 Mexico, Philippines, and EB-3 Vietnam categories.It is also important to note that several other categories are listed as “unavailable” starting in September for the remainder of the fiscal year including the entirety of EB-4 and EB-4 Religious Workers categories, as well as EB-1 India. (While EB-1 China is not listed as unavailable, it retrogressed to 1/1/2014 due to increased demand, and EB-1 Worldwide is now at 10/1/2017.)
So, what exactly does “U” mean? It means “unauthorized,” or, in other words, that visa numbers are not authorized for issuance because they are “unavailable.” It is not uncommon for visa numbers to become unavailable at the end of the fiscal year. By doing so, the State Department and USCIS put a moratorium, of sorts, on the filing of visa and adjustment-of-status applications in order to better assess longer term visa availability. It is expected that many of these categories will return to their August priority dates on October 1, 2019.
While cases subject to “U” cannot be approved at interviews, applicants who have been scheduled for interviews should still appear. Normally, the interview moves forward and if the application is deemed approvable, the officer will request a visa number and that request will subsequently be sent to the Visa Office “pending demand file” at the State Department. Once this occurs, the visa number will be automatically authorized for use by USCIS, effective the first day of the month in which the applicant’s priority date becomes current.