Articles Posted in Consulates

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On May 13, 2024, the State Department announced record breaking milestones including the issuance of a whopping 5.2 million nonimmigrant visas at U.S. Embassies and Consulates worldwide in the first half of fiscal year 2024 – more than any previous year over the same period.

In the past six months alone, 30 percent of U.S. Embassies and Consulates worldwide set all-time records for nonimmigrant visas issued.

In particular, travel and tourism has been a focal point for the State Department considering that international visitors contribute as much as $239 billion annually to the U.S. economy and support approximately 9.5 million jobs.

Some of the key highlights from the State Department’s announcement are as follows:

In the first half of fiscal year 2024:

  • Almost 4.1 million B visitor visas and border crossing cards were issued for tourists and temporary business travelers worldwide, with nearly two-thirds from Mexico, India, Brazil, the People’s Republic of China, Colombia, Argentina, the Dominican Republic and Ecuador.

By the middle of fiscal year 2024, the State Department issued:

  • Approximately 134,000 visas for exchange visitor program participants and 115,000 visas for students. International students contributed almost $38 billion to the U.S. economy in the year 2022 and made up more than 335,000 jobs
  • A record breaking 205,000 visas were issued for temporary or seasonal workers in agriculture and other sectors
  • Almost 160,000 nonimmigrant visas were issued to airline and shipping crew members to support global transportation and supply chains—the second-highest half-year issuance record in this category in history
  • Almost 25,000 employment-based immigrant visas—75 percent more than same period in fiscal year 2019

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The U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Consular Affairs has published the June Visa Bulletin. In this blog post we breakdown the projected movement of the employment-based and family-sponsored categories in the month of June.


USCIS Adjustment of Status


For employment-based preference categories, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) confirmed that in June it will use the Final Action Dates chart to determine filing eligibility for adjustment of status to permanent residence.

For family-sponsored preference categories, USCIS will use the Dates for Filing chart to determine filing eligibility for adjustment of status to permanent residence.


Highlights of the June 2024 Visa Bulletin


Employment-Based Categories

The June Visa Bulletin shows no advancement in most employment-based categories.

  • The Dates for Filing chart in June remains unchanged from the previous months.
  • The Final Action Dates for EB-1, EB-2, and EB-5 remain unchanged.
  • Only EB-3 India will advance by one week.

Family-Sponsored Categories

For the family-sponsored preference categories, the Dates for Filing Chart remains unchanged from the previous month, with the exception of:

  • F2B Mexico will advance by 2 months to November 1, 2004
  • F3 Worldwide, China, and India will advance by 3 months to September 1, 2010
  • F4 Mexico will advance by 5 days to April 27, 2001

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In this blog post, we cover the newly released Immigrant Visa Backlog Report published by the Department of State. April’s report provides the latest data and statistics relating to the processing of immigrant visa applications at the National Visa Center.

This data includes information about the number of documentarily complete immigrant visa cases currently at the National Visa Center waiting for interviews, the number of cases that were scheduled for interviews by the end of the month, and the number of immigrant visa cases still waiting to be scheduled for a visa interview after interview appointment scheduling was completed.


The April Immigrant Visa Backlog Report


According to the National Visa Center’s April Immigrant Visa Backlog Report there has been an increase in the overall immigrant visa (IV) backlog from 326,415 pending cases in the month of March, to 351,624 pending cases still waiting to be scheduled for a visa interview at the end of April. By comparison, in February, there were 338,256 pending cases waiting for interview scheduling.

On the bright side, the Final Action dates in the April and May Visa Bulletin have shown substantial forward movement for nearly all family-sponsored categories. This has enabled more family-based immigrant visa applications to become documentarily complete and receive interview scheduling at U.S. Consulates and Embassies worldwide. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for the employment-based categories, which have remained stagnant with little to no forward movement in recent months.

Additionally, when comparing the March and April Immigrant Visa backlog reports, we can see that the number of immigrant visa applicants whose cases were documentarily complete and therefore ready to be scheduled for an interview at Consulates and Embassies increased from 374,532 (as of February 29, 2024) to 404,459 (as of March 31, 2024). Of these cases, only 52,835 applicants whose cases became documentarily complete were scheduled for interview appointments in April 2024. By comparison, only 48,117 applicants were scheduled for interview in March.

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If you’ve been a long-time follower of our blog, you’ll know that on January 29th the Department of State launched a pilot program giving certain H-1B applicants the ability to renew their visas without ever having to leave the United States.

The State Department accepted applications for this pilot program until April 1, 2024, granting domestic visa renewals for approximately 20,000 qualifying applicants, whose prior H-1B visas were issued by either Mission Canada (with an issuance date from January 1, 2020, through April 1, 2023) or by Mission India (with an issuance date of February 1, 2021, through September 30, 2021).

What was so exciting about the pilot program’s announcement was the government’s intention to potentially expand the scope of the domestic visa renewal program to more applicants and other visa categories.

In a recent Committee Liaison meeting with the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA), State Department representatives said that the pilot program was a resounding success. The pilot program benefitted thousands of workers and saw strong participation from big companies, including a broad spectrum of employers from the hospitality, retail, manufacturing, technology, finance, and academic sectors.

When asked whether the State Department could release statistics about the program, representatives responded that such data is not yet available but revealed that the average turnaround time for approved applications was under two weeks.

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The long-awaited May 2024 Visa Bulletin has arrived! If you’d like to know all about the projected movement of the employment-based and family-sponsored categories in the month of May, we’ve got you covered.


Highlights of the May 2024 Visa Bulletin


Dates for Filing Chart


For the family-sponsored preference categories, the Dates for Filing Chart remains unchanged from the previous month, with the exception of the F2B category for Mexico which will advance by 1 month to September 1, 2004. Additionally, F3 Worldwide, China, and India will advance by 3 months to June 1, 2010. Finally, F4 India will advance by 2.2 months to June 15, 2006, F4 Mexico will advance by 1 week to April 22, 2001, and F4 Philippines will advance by over 1 month to June 1, 2005.

For the employment-based petitions, the Dates for Filing remain unchanged from the previous month.


Employment-based categories Final Action Chart


The Final Action Dates Chart shows no movement for all employment-based preference categories.


Family-sponsored categories


Movement in the Final Action Dates


On the other hand, the Final Action Dates Chart for the family-sponsored categories advanced in almost all categories as follows:

  • F1 Mexico will advance by 5.5 months to October 15, 2001
  • F1 Philippines will remain the same at March 1, 2012
  • F1 All other countries will advance by 4.9 months to July 8, 2015
  • F2A Mexico will advance by 2.8 months to November 8, 2020
  • F2A Philippines will advance by 8.7 months to June 1, 2021
  • F2A All other countries will advance by 8.7 months to June 1, 2021
  • F2B Mexico will advance by 4.3 months to March 1, 2004
  • F2B Philippines will remain at October 22, 2011
  • F2B All other countries will advance by 4.3 months to April 1, 2016
  • F3 Mexico will advance by 10.4 months to July 22, 1999
  • F3 Philippines will advance by 1.8 months to August 1, 2002
  • F3 All other countries will advance by 3 months to January 1, 2010
  • F4 Worldwide and China will advance by 1.4 months to July 22, 2007
  • F4 India will advance by 1 month to January 15, 2006
  • F4 Mexico will advance by 3.3 months to January 22, 2001
  • F4 Philippines will advance by 2.8 months to September 8, 2003

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This week we bring you new updates regarding the I-693 medical examination.

On April 4, 2024, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced that any Form I-693, Report of Immigration Medical Examination and Vaccination Record, that was properly completed and signed by a civil surgeon on or after November 1, 2023, does not expire and can be used indefinitely as evidence to show that the applicant is not inadmissible on health-related grounds.


What is Form I-693?


The Form I-693 is a medical examination report that must be completed by a USCIS approved civil surgeon. It is a required document for certain noncitizens who must prove to USCIS that they are free of any health-related conditions that would make them inadmissible to the United States. This includes applicants applying for adjustment of status on Form I-485 (green card applicants).

Beginning December 9, 2021, USCIS recognized the validity of Form I-693 for a period of 2 years from the date the civil surgeon signed the form, regardless of when the underlying application was submitted.


What changed?


Medical Examinations Completed On or After November 1, 2023

USCIS has consulted with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and determined that the validity of Form I-693 will no longer be limited to a certain period, so long as it was properly completed and signed by a civil surgeon on or after November 1, 2023.

Effective November 1st, the CDC has required civil surgeons to share certain medical data from the Form I-693 directly with CDC electronically. CDC and USCIS have also collaborated to improve the reporting of public health information collected on Form I-693 by civil surgeons to local U.S. health departments.

Before this policy update, civil surgeons were not required to share such information with CDC electronically.

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The Department of State has published the April 2024 Visa Bulletin, bringing significant advancements in the final action dates for most employment-based categories, and modest advancement for the family-sponsored categories when compared to the previous month.


Highlights of the April 2024 Visa Bulletin


Dates for Filing Chart

For the family-sponsored preference categories, the Dates for Filing Chart remains unchanged from the previous month, with the exception of the family sponsored fourth preference category (F4) for India which will advance by 1.5 months to April 8, 2006, and Philippines which will advance by 1 year to April 22, 2005.

Additionally, for employment-based petitions, the employment based first preference category (EB1A) India will advance by 3 months to April 1, 2021, and the employment-based third (EB3) preference category for India will advance by 1.5 months to September 15, 2012. Finally, the employment based fourth preference category (EB-4) will advance by 11 months to December 1, 2020.

All other preference categories remain unchanged from the previous month.

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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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The February 2024 Visa Bulletin was recently published by the Department of State.

While the Dates for Filing Chart remains unchanged from the previous month, the Final Action Dates Chart shows some modest advancements in some of the employment-based preference categories, specifically EB-1 worldwide continues to be current, EB-2 Worldwide will advance by two weeks to November 15, 2022, EB-3 Professional and Skilled Workers, India will advance by one month to July 1, 2012, and the rest of the world will advance by one month to September 1, 2022. EB-5 India will advance by one week to December 15, 2015, while the rest of the world will remain current.

For family-sponsored categories, the Final Action Dates for F2A Worldwide, F2A China, F2A India, and F2A Philippines will advance by more than 3 months to February 8, 2020, while F2A Mexico will advance to February 1, 2020. The February Dates for Filing remain the same as the previous month.

Whether you are applying for an immigrant visa at a U.S. Consulate overseas or applying for adjustment of status to permanent residence in the United States, you won’t want to miss these new updates.


Highlights of the February 2024 Visa Bulletin


Employment-based categories

  • The February Dates for Filing remain the same as January 2024

Final Action Dates

  • EB-1 India: The EB-1 India Final Action Date will remain at September 1, 2020.
  • EB-1 China: The EB-1 China Final Action Date will remain at July 1, 2022
  • EB-1 Worldwide: All other countries will remain current.
  • EB-2 India: The EB-2 Final Action Date for India will remain at March 1, 2012
  • EB-2 China: The EB-2 China Final Action Date will remain at January 1, 2020.
  • EB-2 Worldwide: Final Action Dates for the remaining countries in EB-2 will advance by two weeks, to November 15, 2022.
  • EB-3 Professional/Skilled Workers: The EB-3 Professional/Skilled Worker Final Action for China, will remain at September 1, 2020. India will advance by one month to July 1, 2012. Final Action Dates for the remaining countries in the category will advance by one month to September 1, 2022.

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