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The October 2020 Visa Bulletin: the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

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Our office has been eagerly awaiting the release of the October visa bulletin which ushers in the beginning of a brand-new fiscal year. As our readers will know, a lot has been happening in the world of immigration.

Since March of 2020, U.S. Consulates and Embassies nationwide have suspended routine visa services to the public amid the Coronavirus pandemic. To make matters even more complicated, the President issued a series of Presidential Proclamations suspending the issuance of immigrant visas for most family-sponsored preference categories with limited exceptions including spouses and minor children of United States Citizens. In this post we cover the good, the bad, and the ugly of the release of the October 2020 visa bulletin.


THE BAD AND THE UGLY –

Most Family Sponsored Categories Unable to Obtain Immigrant Visas Due to Consular Closures and Presidential Proclamations

For the most part, nearly all family-sponsored categories on the visa bulletin are impacted by the Presidential Proclamations and individuals impacted cannot obtain an immigrant visa at the U.S. Consulate until the Proclamations terminate on December 31, 2020.

What Family Preference Categories are Impacted?

Presidential Proclamations 10014 and 10052 together suspend the entry of and issuance of visas for the following types of family-sponsored immigrants until December 31, 2020:

  • F2A Spouses and children of green card holders applying at the consulate
  • F-2B Unmarried sons and daughters of green card holders applying at the consulate (21 years of age or older)
  • F-3 Married sons and daughters meaning of US citizens applying at the consulate (children under 21 years old of US citizens are not affected)
  • F-4 Brothers and sisters of US citizens applying at the consulate

As you can see these categories make up the vast majority of the family-sponsored preference categories on the visa bulletin. Only very narrow categories of individuals have been specifically exempted from the Proclamations.

Those exempted include the following:

  • Spouses and children of US citizens applying at the consulate are not affected
  • Sons and daughters under 21 years old of US citizens applying at the consulate are not affected
  • Lawful Permanent Residents of the U.S.
  • Members of the U.S. Armed Forces and any spouse and child of a member of the U.S. Armed Forces
  • Aliens seeking to enter the U.S. on an immigrant visa as a physician, nurse, or other healthcare professional
  • Aliens seeking to enter the U.S. to perform medical research or other research intended to combat the spread of COVID-19
  • Any spouse any unmarried child under 21 years of age of any such alien who is accompanying or following to join the alien
  • Any alien applying for a visa pursuant to the EB-5 Immigrant Investor Program
  • Aliens whose entry furthers important United States law enforcement objectives
  • Any alien seeking entry pursuant to a Special Immigrant Visa in the SI or SQ classification, and any spouse and child of any such individual
    • SI: Certain aliens employed by the U.S. Government in Iraq or Afghanistan as translators or interpreters
    • SQ: Certain Iraqis or Afghans employed by or on behalf of the U.S. Government
  • Any alien whose entry would be in the national interest of the United States (national interest waivers)
  • Aliens seeking entry for asylum, refugee status, withholding of removal, or protection under the Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment


Family-Based Preference Categories – October 2020

For the few family-sponsored categories that are not barred by the Proclamations, applicants must use the Dates for Filing chart  in the Department of State Visa Bulletin for October 2020 to apply for adjustment of status to permanent residence (except for F2A).

In order to file for adjustment of status based on family sponsorship during the month of October (for applicants lawfully residing in the United States), applicants must have a priority date that is earlier than the dated listed below for their preference category and country of nationality on the Dates for Filing chart (except F2A which must use the Final Action Date chart although this is irrelevant for this month given that F2A is banned under the Presidential Proclamations).

*NOTE: Most of the categories below cannot obtain an immigrant visa as a result of Presidential Proclamations 10014 and 10052. 

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

  • China and India: July 22, 2015
  • Mexico: February 22, 2000
  • Philippines October 8, 2012
  • All Other Countries: July 22, 2015

F2A Spouses and Children of Permanent Residents

  • All Countries: August 1, 2020

F2B Unmarried Sons and Daughters (21 years of age or older) of Permanent Residents

  • China and India: May 1, 2016
  • Mexico: December 1, 1999
  • Philippines: April 1, 2012
  • All Other Countries: May 1, 2016

F3 Married Sons and Daughters of U.S. Citizens 

  • China and India: June 1, 2009
  • Mexico: August 15, 2000
  • Philippines: December 22, 2002
  • All Other Countries: June 1, 2009

F4 Brothers and Sisters of Adult U.S. Citizens

  • China: September 15, 2007
  • India: November 22, 2005
  • Mexico: April 22, 1999
  • Philippines: September 1, 2002
  • All Other Countries: September 15, 2007

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THE GOOD –

UNUSED FAMILY VISA NUMBERS ROLL OVER TO EMPLOYMENT BASED CATEGORIES CREATING RAPID MOVEMENT FOR MOST EMPLOYMENT CATEGORIES

The good news is that with the current “ban” on issuance of visas for most family-sponsored preference categories thousands of visas will be unused. As a result, these visa numbers will not be lost but will instead “roll over” to the employment-based visa categories. This phenomenon has resulted in substantial advances in priority dates for most employment-based visa applicants. For the first time ever employment-based applicants will have the opportunity to apply for an immigrant visa more quickly than ever before. Of course, this will depend on the availability of interview appointments at Consular posts and Embassies worldwide. We are still seeing very slow progression with some Consular posts offering only emergency services at this time.

Adjustment of Status – Dates for Filing Chart

In order to file for adjustment of status based on employment during the month of October (for applicants lawfully residing in the United States), employment-sponsored applicants must have a priority date that is earlier than the dated listed below for their preference category and country of nationality.

All applicants filing under employment-based preference categories must use the Dates for Filing chart in the Department of State Visa Bulletin for October 2020.

EB-1: All countries current except China and India

  • China: September 1, 2020
  • India: September 1, 2020
  • All other countries: Current

EB-2: All countries current except China and India

  • China: October 1, 2016
  • India: May 15, 2011
  • All other countries: Current

EB-3 Professionals and Skilled Workers: All countries current except China and India

  • China: June 1, 2018
  • India: January 1, 2015
  • All other countries: Current

EB-3 Other Workers: All countries current except China and India

  • China: October 1, 2008
  • India: January 1, 2015
  • All other countries: Current

EB-4: All countries current except El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras

  • El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras: February 1, 2018
  • All other countries: Current

EB-5: All countries current except China

  • China: December 15, 2015
  • All other countries: Current

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Conclusion

This forward movement has created a huge advantage for employment-based applicants. In the coming months we expect EB-3 to remain current with China and India’s priority dates advancing further. Applicants should keep a close eye on their Consulate’s webpage to be the first to know when their Consulates will resume routine visa services. Regularly monitoring Consular social media pages will also help keep applicants in the know. The forward movement in the EB-3 category also creates an opportunity for employment-based applicants to downgrade their status from EB-2 to EB-3 in order for their applications to be processed more quickly. We will be discussing this possibility in future videos.

Additionally, we believe that as we get closer to the end of the year, there will be a slow but steady advancement for family-sponsored immigration categories as the Presidential Proclamations begin to come to their end. Of course there is the possibility that Donald Trump could extend these Proclamations if re-elected. We will have to wait and see.


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