What is visa numbers spillover

I 485 (also known as Adjustment of Status – “AOS”) can be applied for only when visa numbers are available. Limited visa numbers are available each year so only certain applicants are allowed to apply. The determination of an applicant’s eligibility is made based on which category/country the applicant belongs to and the applicant’s priority dates (“PD”, the dates on which labor/PERM was applied for). If a person is in a category/country that ‘is current’ or has a cut-off date after the applicant’s PD, he/she can apply for the I485.

A maximum of 2,987 visa numbers are issued each year to EB2s from each country including India and China. No other country hits this limit, so they are generally lumped into the rest-of-the-world category (“ROW”). A global total of 42,672 visa numbers are allocated to EB2s each year; after taking aside the 5,987 x 2 visa numbers allocated to Indian and Chinese applicants, 36,698 are available to ROW EB2s. However the number of applicants from these countries is far less.

Visa numbers spill-over from categories with surplus availability (like EB2 ROW mentioned above) to categories with a shortfall. The order of spill over is as follows: EB4 and EB5 spill over to EB1; All left over EB1 visa numbers (including left over EB4 and EB5) spill over to EB2; All left over EB2 visa numbers (including left over EB4, EB5 and EB1 visa numbers) spill over to EB3.

Within each category (EB2s for instance), all spill over visa numbers are allocated without consideration of country of origin, so Indian EB2s will get all spill-over visa numbers until they catch up with Chinese EB2s, and all remaining spill over visas are split between the two according to PDs.

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

Related

What is a priority date?
How do I become a permanent resident of USA?
How long does it take to become a permanent resident?
What is visa / consular processing?
What is the Adjustment of Status (AOS) process?

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