March 2019 US Visa Bulletin

Published on: Mar 18, 2019, Last Edited: Mar 18, 2019 | Tags: USA Visa Updates, USA Visa Application, USA Immigration

Introduction

The US Department of State Visa Bulletin for March 2019 has just been released and reveals some significant changes in wait times for both the employment-based and family-based categories. If you’re waiting for a green card, we advise you to have all the documents required for your application ready to hand so that you can file it as soon as the visa bulletin shows that an opportunity to apply is available to you.

Visa updates

In employment-based categories: 

In the EB-5 category, China moves up by one week after a period of no movement thanks to the end of government funding for both R5 and I5 categories, which have since been authorised again. 

  • Both Indian and Chinese employees in the EB-3 category are still in front of applicants in the EB-2 category, though it is still not clear if this trend will continue for applicants form the subcontinent. 
  • A 4-month advance has been triggered for Filipino employees following a period of lower than expected demand. The State Department is concerned to avoid a sudden surge in the future that will lead to a lengthy period of long queues. 
  • Mexico is making steady progress in the EB-4 category while applicants for Central America will find their wait time is stalling. For all other countries, the dates remain unchanged. 

In family-based categories: 

  • There is significant movement in all family-based categories, in particular for the F-4 and F-2B categories. In each of these categories, we see the biggest forward movement since October 2018. In September 2018, we had seen another 3-month advance, but this was only for the unmarried children over the age of 21 from Filipino families. 
  • Following a logjam since the start of the year, married children of Mexican families are at last seeing some movement in the F-3 and F-2B categories. 
  • In the F-4 category, Filipino siblings of US citizens have advanced by 4 months after the significant leap of one year that was announced last month. This advancement was the result of a drop in demand. 

It’s vital to check the monthly visa bulletin issued by the State Department for the latest information. If you miss your chance to apply, you could find that next month there might be an unexpected retrogression or backward movement in the line for applicants from your country. 

Undocumented immigrants to US tracked by license plate data

Underlining the Trump administration's strengthening of deportation policies by the Trump administration, an investigation reveals that ICE (Immigration, Customs and Excise)is using data acquired from automatic number plate recognition to identify undocumented immigrants. 

The growth of automated number plate recognition technology in the United States has provoked a clash between ICE and civil liberties groups as local police forces are informally sharing data that enables the movements of individuals to be tracked. 

An investigation by ACLU (American Civil Liberties Union) shows that over 80 law enforcement agencies are sharing license plate data with ICE in support of their efforts to identify and deport migrants. Files showing that ICE was able to track people's movements in real time across the US and the information given informally to ICE officers requesting personal data appears to be in violation both of local laws and also of ICE’s own privacy code. 

The investigation raises renewed concerns regarding the way in which ICE monitors immigrants and the way in which county police forces assist the Trump administration’s stance on deportation. Automated plate recognition technology is a form of mass surveillance which civil liberties groups claim is open to abuse. The list of county police forces collaborating with ICE included some from California, a so-called Sanctuary state that has passed a law specifically restricting police forces from collaborating with ICE. 

ACLU investigations also revealed that ICE officials were failing to follow their own privacy guidelines, which state that access to specific individual records should be justified and documented. Instead, ICE officials were making informal requests for database searches to police officers over a period of several years. 

ICE claims that the data would never be used to track anyone unconnected with ICE enforcement and say that any ICE employees who access the data without authorisation would be disciplined. ACLU is requesting cities to refuse applications for contracts for license plate surveillance and to pass new privacy laws regulating the purchase by police forces of new automatic surveillance technology.

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