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Employment-Based Visa Number Limitations

Approximately 140,000 immigrant visas are available each fiscal year (starting October 1 and ending September 30) to qualified aliens (and their spouses and children) who seek to live permanently in the United States based on their job skills. Applicants under EB-1, EB-2 and EB-3 receive 28.6 percent each of the yearly worldwide visa allocation, while EB-4 and EB-5 receive 7.1 percent each. The law also provides for per-country limitation set at 7% and dependent are limitation set at 2% of the total annual family-sponsored (226,000) and employment-based (140,000) preference limits.


For employment-based immigrant visas, visa numbers are issued to eligible immigrants in the order in which a labor certification or immigrant petition (if labor certification is not required) has been filed. Due to the numerical limitations, exceeding demands for visa numbers cause a backlog in the issuance of visa numbers. Currently, EB-3 categories are oversubscribed to the extent that applicants worldwide wait for several years before they are able to apply for immigrant visa, with India-born applicants experiencing the longest waiting time followed by applicants born in Mainland China. EB-2 categories always been current for applicants worldwide, except Mainland China and India; although the rising demand for EB-2 categories have also resulted in worldwide visa backlog at some point and may still happen again from time to time. All other categories are current, with visa numbers immediately available to the applicants.