Employment-Based Fourth Preference (EB-4) Visa Limits Reached for Special Immigrants From El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras

Release Date:

The Department of State’s Visa Bulletin for May 2016 reflects a final action date  of January 1, 2010*, for EB-4 visas for special immigrants from El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras. This means that starting in May, applicants from these countries who filed Form I-360, Petition for Amerasian, Widow(er), or Special Immigrant on or after January 1, 2010, will not be able to obtain an immigrant visa or adjust status until new visas become available.

These three countries have reached their EB-4 visa limits as congressionally mandated for fiscal year 2016, which ends September 30. Information on EB-4 visa availability for fiscal year 2017 for El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras will appear in the Department of State’s October Visa Bulletin, which will be published this September.

EB-4 visas are for special immigrants. These are individuals who may be eligible for lawful permanent resident status based on specific classifications, including Special Immigrant Juvenile.

What this action means to EB-4 applicants from El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras:

Petitioners from any country, including El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras, may continue to file Form I-360. There is no annual limit on the number of Form I‑360 petitions that USCIS may approve.

USCIS will accept all properly filed submissions of Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status, under the EB-4 classification until April 30, 2016.

  • We will process and make a decision on your Form I-485 application only if you have a Form I-360 filed before January 1, 2010, that is ultimately approved.
  • If you have a pending Form I-360 filed on or after January 1, 2010, we will process and make a decision on your Form I-360 but withhold a decision to approve your Form I-485 application pending availability of an EB-4 visa.

If you file Form I-485 under the EB-4 classification after April 30, 2016:

  • We will process and make a decision on your Form I-485 only if you filed your Form I-360 petition before January 1, 2010, and your Form I-360 is ultimately approved.

We will reject and return other Form I-485 applications but will continue to process Form I-360 petitions (even if submitted together with a Form I-485 that gets rejected).

*Note: According to the Department of State’s July 2016 Visa Bulletin: “Readers should be aware that the establishment of the Employment Fourth preference Final Action date of January 1, 2010 does not mean that applicants are now subject to a wait in excess of six years.  That Final Action Date is intended only to stop any further use of numbers by applicants from those countries under the FY-2016 annual limit, not to indicate how long it will be before applicants will be eligible for final action.” 

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