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The March 2024 Visa Bulletin is finally here, and with it we have big advancements in the family sponsored preference categories, and minor advancements in the employment-based categories.


Highlights of the March 2024 Visa Bulletin


Dates for Filing Chart

The Dates for Filing Chart remains unchanged from the previous month, for both the family sponsored and employment-based categories, with the exception of the employment-based fourth preference category, EB-4 which will advance by 4 months to January 1, 2020.


Employment-based categories


Movement in the Final Action Dates

The Final Action Dates Chart shows some modest advancements in some of the employment-based preference categories, specifically:

  • EB-1 China will advance by two weeks to July 15, 2022
  • EB-1 India will advance by 1 month to October 1, 2020
  • EB-2 Worldwide, Mexico, and the Philippines will advance by 1 week to November 22, 2022
  • EB-3 Worldwide, Mexico, and the Philippines will advance by 1 week to September 8, 2022
  • EB-3 Other Workers, Worldwide and Mexico will advance by 1 week to September 8, 2020
  • EB-4 will advance by more than 6.5 months to December 1, 2019

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In this blog post, we provide new insights recently shared by Charlie Oppenheim, the former Chief of Immigrant Visa Control and Reporting at the U.S. Department of State, who oversaw the monthly publication of the Visa Bulletin until his retirement in 2022.

In a recent Chatting with Charlie webinar, he provided his expertise regarding the future movement of the employment based and family preference categories on the Visa Bulletin.

The Dates for Filing for the employment based and family sponsored preference categories have remained the same since the publication of the October Visa Bulletin with no forward movement to be seen.

In the month of February, the Final Action Dates progressed only slightly as follows:

Employment-based

  • EB-2 Worldwide advanced by two weeks to November 15, 2022
  • EB-3 India advanced by one month to July 1, 2012
  • EB-3 all other countries advanced by one month to September 1, 2022 (except China)
  • EB-5 China (Unreserved) advanced by one week to December 15, 2015.

Family-sponsored

  • F2A all categories (except Mexico) advanced by more than 3 months to February 8, 2020
  • F2A Mexico advanced by more than 3 months to February 1, 2020

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In this blog post, we summarize the movement of the family-sponsored and employment-based preference categories of the October Visa Bulletin.

This information will be helpful to those applying for an immigrant visa at a U.S. Consulate overseas, and those applying for adjustment of status to permanent residence in the United States.


Overview


What is the Visa Bulletin?


The Department of State releases the visa bulletin on a monthly basis, which summarizes the availability of immigrant visa numbers for that particular month in the employment and family preference categories. The purpose of the visa bulletin is to inform immigrants who are subject to the numerical quota system of when they are eligible to apply for an immigrant visa or adjustment of status application. Applicants can determine their place in line by looking at the priority date on their underlying immigrant petition. Applicants with a priority date that is “current” on the Visa Bulletin can move forward with the immigration process, because that means a visa number is available to them.


What are the preference categories that are subject to the numerical limitations?


The Family Sponsored Preference Categories and their annual limits are as follows:

First: (F1) Unmarried Sons and Daughters of U.S. Citizens:  23,400 plus any numbers not required for fourth preference.

Second: Spouses and Children, and Unmarried Sons and Daughters of Permanent Residents:  114,200, plus the number (if any) by which the worldwide family preference level exceeds 226,000, plus any unused first preference numbers:

  1. (F2A) Spouses and Children of Permanent Residents:  77% of the overall second preference limitation, of which 75% are exempt from the per-country limit;
  2. (F2B) Unmarried Sons and Daughters (21 years of age or older) of Permanent Residents:  23% of the overall second preference limitation.

Third: (F3) Married Sons and Daughters of U.S. Citizens:  23,400, plus any numbers not required by first and second preferences.

Fourth: (F4) Brothers and Sisters of Adult U.S. Citizens:  65,000, plus any numbers not required by first three preferences.

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In this blog post, we close out the week with some great news that may be of interest to EB-5 Immigrant Investors.

On Tuesday July 18th the U.S. Citizenship, and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced new changes to the processing of Form I-526, Immigrant Petition by Alien Investor, for EB-5 investment to improve processing times and create greater efficiency.


How Will USCIS Process I-526 Petitions?


The USCIS Immigrant Investor Program Office (IPO) manages Form I-526 petition inventory through workflow queues factoring in whether: a visa is available (or will be available soon) and the underlying project has been reviewed.

Workflow queues are generally managed in first-in, first-out (FIFO) order when a visa is available or will be available soon.

Effective July 18, 2023, IPO will update its approach by grouping petitions by new commercial enterprise (NCE) with filing dates on or before November 30, 2019, within the workflow queue of petitions where the project has been reviewed and there is a visa available or soon to be available, to gain greater processing efficiencies.

In practice this means that multiple petitions with the same new commercial enterprise (NCE) will be assigned to the same adjudicator(s) to help process them more quickly. This is because multiple petitions associated with the same NCE will have an overlap in project documents and issues presented.

This approach will help reduce current EB-5 backlogs, that are stretching to a 4 to 5 year waiting period from date of filing.

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We are happy to report that the August Visa Bulletin has been released!

As we do every month, we share what you can expect to see in the upcoming month’s visa bulletin for family-sponsored and employment-based preference categories to help you prepare for your immigrant visa filing at a U.S. Consulate overseas, or your green card filing for those residing in the United States.


Highlights of the August 2023 Visa Bulletin


Employment Based Categories


Final Action cutoff dates – Retrogressions in August:

  • EB-1 India will retrogress by more than 10 years to January 1, 2012, in August 2023. The State Department indicates that depending on usage in the category and on the FY 2024 annual numerical limit, it is likely that in October 2023 the cutoff date will return to at least February 1, 2022
  • EB-1 Worldwide, China: The State Department has imposed a final action cutoff date for EB-1A Worldwide for all countries except China, at August 1, 2023. The EB-1 China Final Action Date will remain at February 1, 2022.
  • EB-2 Worldwide, China:  EB-2 China will advance by one month, to July 8, 2019. The Final Action Date for EB-2 India will remain at January 1, 2011. The EB-2 Worldwide Final Action Date will advance by six weeks, to April 1, 2022 for all other countries.
  • EB-3: The Final Action Date for EB-3 China Professional/Skilled Worker will advance by two months, to June 1, 2019. EB-3 India Professional/Skilled Worker will remain at January 1, 2009. For all other countries, the EB-3 Professional/Skilled Worker Final Action Date will retrogress by almost two years, to May 1, 2020.

Family-sponsored categories


Dates for Filing cutoff dates – Advancements in August:

  • F-1 Mexico will advance by 2 years and 3 months to April 1, 2005 from January 1, 2003
  • F2A will remain current for all categories
  • F2B Mexico will advance by 2 years and 4 months to August 1, 2004 from April 1, 2002

What is the Visa Bulletin?


The Department of State releases the visa bulletin on a monthly basis, which summarizes the availability of immigrant visa numbers for that particular month in the employment and family preference categories.


Adjustment of Status Filing Chart August 2023


The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has published guidance indicating that USCIS will accept employment-based adjustment of status applications from foreign nationals with a priority date that is earlier than the Final Action Dates listed in the State Department’s August 2023 Visa Bulletin.

For family-sponsored filings, USCIS will accept adjustment of status applications from foreign nationals with a priority date that is earlier than the Dates for Filing listed in the State Department’s August 2023 Visa Bulletin.

You may also find the Adjustment of Status USCIS Filing Charts here:


August 2023 Visa Bulletin Dates for Filing Cutoff Dates


 Employment-Based Categories


FINAL ACTION DATES FOR EMPLOYMENT-BASED PREFERENCE CASES


According to the Department of State’s August 2023 Visa Bulletin, the following Final Action cutoff dates will apply for employment-based categories, which will determine whether an adjustment of status application can be filed with USCIS in the month of August:

  • EB-1: China remains unchanged at February 1, 2022. India will retrogress by 10 years and 1 month, to January 1, 2012. All other countries will receive a final action cutoff date of August 1, 2023.
  • EB-2: India will remain at January 1, 2011. China will remain by 1 month to July 8, 2019. All other countries will advance by 6 weeks to April 1, 2022
  • EB-3 Professionals and Skilled Workers: India will remain at January 1, 2009. China will advance by 2 months to June 1, 2019. All other countries will retrogress by 1 year and 9 months to May 1, 2020.
  • EB-3 Other Workers: India will remain at January 1, 2009, China will remain at September 1, 2015. All other countries will remain at January 1, 2020.
  • EB-4: All countries will remain at September 1, 2018.
  • EB-5: For the EB-5 Unreserved categories (C5, T5, I5, and R5), India will remain at April 1, 2017, and China will remain at September 8, 2015. All other countries will remain current. The EB-5 “Set-Aside” categories (Rural, High Unemployment, and Infrastructure) will remain current.

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In this blog post, we cover the release of the September Visa Bulletin 2022 and what you can expect for employment based and family preference categories during the upcoming month of September.

The Department of State releases the visa bulletin on a monthly basis, which summarizes the availability of immigrant visa numbers for that particular month. The “Final Action Dates” and “Dates for Filing Applications,” charts indicate when immigrant visa applicants should be notified to assemble and submit the required documentation to the National Visa Center.


Adjustment of Status Filing Chart September 2022


For Family-Sponsored Filings:

Pursuant to guidance released by USCIS, for all family-sponsored preference categories, applicants must use the  Dates for Filing chart in the Department of State Visa Bulletin for September 2022.

For Employment-Based Preference Filings:

All applicants, falling under employment-based preference categories, must use the Final Action Dates chart in the Department of State Visa Bulletin for September 2022.


September 2022 Visa Bulletin Final Action Cutoff Dates


Employment-Based Categories


FINAL ACTION DATES FOR EMPLOYMENT-BASED PREFERENCE CASES

According to the Department of State’s September 2022 Visa Bulletin, the following Final Action cutoff dates will apply for the issuance of an immigrant visa for employment-based categories:

  • EB-1: All countries, including India and China, will remain current.
  • EB-2: India remains unchanged at December 1, 2014, and China remains unchanged at April 1, 2019. All other countries will remain current.
  • EB-3 Professionals and Skilled Workers: EB-3 India and EB-3 China will remain unchanged from the previous month, at February 15, 2012 and April 22, 2018, respectively. All other countries will remain current.
  • EB3 Other Workers: For this category, the Department of State has established a worldwide cutoff date of May 8, 2019, to avoid exceeding the annual numerical limits. EB-3 India and China will remain unchanged at February 15, 2012 and June 1, 2012, respectively.
  • EB-5: The Department of State has taken corrective action by establishing a Final Action cutoff date which has advanced by one month to December 22, 2015, for the EB-5 China Unreserved Non-Regional Center (C5, T5, I5, and R5) categories. EB-5 Final Action dates will remain current for all countries and for all EB-5 “Set-Aside” categories (Rural, High Unemployment, and Infrastructure).

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In today’s blog post, we share some interesting Question and Answer responses recently provided by the Department of State’s Office of the Assistant Legal Adviser for Consular Affairs (L/CA), in a meeting with the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA).

The responses below provide some important insight into current immigration policies and procedures taking place amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

Here, we summarize the most interesting questions covered during the January 20 meeting:


Department of State/AILA Liaison Committee Meeting


January 20, 2022 Q & A Highlights


Q: What role do Consular sections assume when determining whether an individual is exempt from the CDC COVID-19 vaccine requirement to gain entry to the U.S.?

A: Consular sections’ role in the process is to ensure that an individual’s request for a [vaccine] exception is filled out in full, and to transmit those requests to the CDC.


Q: If consular posts are involved in transmitting information in support of a humanitarian exception to CDC, what is the process, if any, for making such a request of a consular post outside the context of a visa interview?

A: Travelers should contact the consular section of the nearest embassy or consulate using the information provided on that embassies or consulate’s website


Q: What is the Department of State doing to alleviate the substantial backlogs created by the slowdown of operations at Consular posts and Embassies worldwide?

A: The Department is planning to hire foreign service officers above attrition in FY 2022. The majority will be assigned to a consular position after initial training. Additionally, the Department continues to recruit Limited Non-career Appointment (LNA) Consular Professionals. With very limited LNA hiring in FY 2020 and a pause on LNA hiring in FY 2021 due to CA’s budgetary constraints, Consular Affairs plans to hire more than 60 LNAs in FY 2022

Consular Affairs is working with State’s office of Global Talent Management to ramp up hiring in FY 2022, but many posts will not see these new officers until the second half of FY 2022 or FY 2023, particularly for officers assigned to positions requiring language training. Increased hiring will not have an immediate effect on reducing current visa wait times. Because local pandemic restrictions continue to impact a significant number of our overseas posts, extra staff alone is not sufficient to combat wait times for interviews.


Q: Can Consular Affairs please advise regarding efforts to resume routine consular services?

A: Consular sections abroad must exercise prudence given COVID’s continuing unpredictability. The emergence of the Omicron variant has prompted countries to reevaluate plans to relax travel bans, thereby leading consular sections abroad to recalibrate plans to resume services. Some posts have already fully resumed routine services. Others, in an abundance of caution and out of concern for the health of both consular staff and clientele, are slowly reintroducing some routine services.

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Welcome back to Visalawyerblog! In this blog post, we will cover the release of the December Visa Bulletin 2021 and what you can expect for employment based and family preference categories during the month of December 2021.

The Department of State releases the visa bulletin on a monthly basis, which summarizes the availability of immigrant visa numbers for that particular month. The “Final Action Dates” and “Dates for Filing Applications,” charts indicate when immigrant visa applicants should be notified to assemble and submit the required documentation to the National Visa Center.


Adjustment of Status Filings for those lawfully residing in the United States


In general, if USCIS determines there are more immigrant visas available for a fiscal year than there are known applicants for such visas, the agency will provide instructions on the www.uscis.gov/visabulletininfo webpage that applicants may use the Dates for Filing chart. Otherwise, USCIS will indicate that applicants must use the Final Action Dates chart to determine when they may file their adjustment of status application with USCIS. If a particular immigrant visa category is “current” on the Final Action Dates chart or the cutoff date on the Final Action Dates chart is later than the date on the Dates for Filing chart, applicants in that immigrant visa category may file using the Final Action Dates chart during that month.


Adjustment of Status Filing Chart December 2021


Please note that USCIS has not yet released information on its webpage regarding the appropriate filing chart to be used for family-sponsored adjustment of status filings and employment-based adjustment of status preference filings for December 2021. We recommend that applicants monitor the USCIS webpage below on a regular basis for those updates.

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Welcome back to Visalawyerblog! In this blog post we share with you an overview of the State Department’s November 2021 Q&A answer session with Charlie Oppenheim, Chief of the Immigrant Visa Control and Reporting Division of the U.S. Department of State, also known as “Chats with Charlie,” broadcasted every month on the State Department’s YouTube channel.

This new series features a monthly Question-and-Answer session with Mr. Charles Oppenheim and a Consular officer, where they answer many of the public’s frequently asked questions and provide a monthly analysis of each month’s Visa Bulletin. This discussion will provide details regarding what to expect in terms of the movement or retrogression of both family and employment-based preference categories on each month’s Visa Bulletin. It is with sad news that we announce that Mr. Charlie Oppenheim will soon be retiring from his position after 43 years as Chief of the Immigrant Visa Control division at the State Department. You will be greatly missed Charlie!

Be sure to subscribe to the State Department’s YouTube Channel and turn on your notifications so you do not miss any of these important updates.

Below are the highlights of the visa projections for November 2021.


DOS Q&A Session with Charlie Oppenheim: November 2021 Visa Bulletin Projections & Beyond


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Happy Monday! Welcome back to Visalawyerblog. We start the week with the highly anticipated White House release of “Proclamation on Advancing the Safe Resumption of Global Travel During the COVID-19 Pandemic,” which rescinds the various COVID-19 related geographic travel bans previously in place for travelers from certain geographic regions with high rates of COVID-19, for those who have been fully vaccinated for Coronavirus at 12:01 a.m. eastern standard time on November 8, 2021. The Proclamation also carves out numerous exceptions for those found “exempt” from the vaccination requirement.


Highlights of the New Proclamation


President Biden has released this new proclamation and moved away from the country-by-country restrictions that previously applied during the pandemic in favor of an air travel policy that relies on vaccination to advance the safe resumption of international air travel to the United States.


Who does this new Proclamation apply to?


The new proclamation applies to the entry into the United States of all noncitizen nonimmigrants (noncitizens who are visiting the United States or otherwise being admitted temporarily) traveling to the United States by air.

The proclamation suspends the entry of unvaccinated noncitizen nonimmigrants, except in limited circumstances, –the exemptions to the vaccine requirement– and it ensures that the entry of unvaccinated noncitizen nonimmigrants is consistent with applicable health and safety determinations made by the Director of the CDC, including a requirement that, where appropriate, such individuals agree and arrange to become fully vaccinated against COVID-19 upon their arrival.

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