USCIS Sets September 2023 Adjustment of Status Filing Charts For the Visa Bulletin
Pasricha & Patel Analysis:
With the U.S. Department of State (“DOS”)’s publication of its September 2023 visa bulletin, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (“USCIS”) has decided that it will continue to use the Final Action Dates for Employment-Based Adjustment of Status Applications table. Meanwhile, USCIS also decided to continue to follow the Dates for Filing for Family-Sponsored Adjustment of Status Applications table. Please refer to the sections below for specific discussions about the visa availability date movements and trends under both the employment-based immigrant visa petitions, as well as the family-based immigrant visa petitions.
Employment-based Immigrant Visa Categories:
- Overall, there is not much movement or change in terms of visa availability dates when compared to August 2023 Visa Bulletin.
- In its September 2023 Visa Bulletin, U.S. Department of State does caution that employment-based numbers usage by both USCIS and the U.S. Department of State has been steady during this fiscal year 2023.
- It is also expected that the overall employment-based preference limits for fiscal year 2023 is expected to reach during September 2023.
- This means that if at any time an annual limit is reached in September, the U.S. Department of State will immediately update its visa bulletin to show that the particular preference category will be labeled “unavailable”, and there will be no more allocation of immigrant visas for the month of September.
- By October 2023, the Fiscal Year 2024 starts, and there will be new set of immigrant preference numbers once more.
- Employment-based first preference category (EB-1):
- There is no forward movement in this EB-1 category.
- As explained in the August 2023 Visa Bulletin, because of steady number usage and high demand, the U.S. Department of State decided to establish EB-1 final action dates for Rest of the World countries, Mexico, and the Philippines in August to keep number use within the maximum allowed under Fiscal Year 2023 annual limit.
The expectation is that by October 2023, the visa numbers will resume to be ‘Current’ for those specific countries.
- The major development in EB-1 visa category impacts Indian nationals. Having used up their quota limit for Fiscal Year 2023, it has become necessary to set final action date of January 1, 2012 for India. In fact, the Department of State is already forecasting that by October 2023, the final action date for EB-1 India will advance to at least the final action date announced in the July 2023 visa bulletin (which was February 1, 2022). But even this will still depend on the demand for EB-1 visas by Indian applicants and the Fiscal Year 2024 annual limit on employment-based preference visas.
- Department of State explained that it understands this is very drastic measure to take, but it did predict that retrogression was very likely all the way back in its May 2023 visa bulletin.
- Bottom line: EB-1 India’s visa availability date continues to be set at January 1, 2012.
- Meanwhile, EB-1 China’s visa cutoff date continues at: September 1, 2017.
- For visa chargeability – world – the visa availability also remained unchanged: at August 1, 2023.
- Employment-based second preference category (EB-2):
- The visa availability date for EB-2 India remains on January 1, 2011.
- For China’s visa preference category: the visa availability date continues to be set on July 8, 2019.
- With the exception of India, there is some movement in the EB-2 visa category across all countries and regions in the July 2023 visa bulletin.
- And the EB-2 visa numbers for Rest of the World; and Mexico; and the Philippines did move slightly ahead, to July 1, 2022
DOS had previously noted that this situation needs to be continually monitored and adjustments will have to be made, if necessary.
- This reflects the continued tightening in the visa numbers usage in employment-based immigrant visas in general.
- Employment-based third preference category (EB-3):
- EB-3 India’s visa availability date remains retrogressed to January 1, 2009. DOS’s reasoning here is that the visa number usage is very ‘robust’ for EB-3 India and it has been forecasting that the applicants chargeable to India will exhaust the use of all EB-3 visa numbers by the end of June. Therefore, retrogression is inevitable in order to keep the visa numbers on steady level, especially for India.
- EB-3 China’s visa availability date has moved to September 1, 2019.
- In the EB-3 Other Workers category, there was slight movement for Rest of the World countries – to May 1, 2020. And there was also movement ahead for Mexico, and the Philippines – from January 1, 2020 to May 1, 2020.
- In the monthly notes that accompany the August 2023 visa bulletin, DOS notes that back in the May 2023 visa bulletin, it had already established EB-3 final action dates for Rest of the World, Mexico, and the Philippines to keep number usage within FY2023 annual limit.
Now, with continuing increase in demand of EB-3 visas from these countries and regions, it has become necessary to retrogress the EB-3 final actions for these regions and countries to May 1, 2020.
- DOS also mentioned that due to higher than expected visa number usage in the EB-3 “Other Worker” category, this will likely mean further adjustments in the “Rest of World”, “Mexico”, and “Philippines’s final action dates in the coming months in order to keep the immigrant visa numbers still available through September 30 2023. This situation needs to be continuously monitored by DOS.
- The Department of State further explains that they will continue to monitor the level of demand for EB-3 and make any necessary adjustments as needed.
- Employment-based fourth preference category (EB-4):
- There was no movement in this visa preference category and every country/region. The visa availability date remains on September 1, 2018.
- DOS’s earlier visa bulletins also raised the same warning about EB-4 preference category and how due to increased demand may necessitate the establishment of worldwide final action date (including Mexico and the Philippines) in the coming months to hold numbers within maximum allowed under the current Fiscal Year 2023 annual limit.
- Department of State advised readers to monitor this situation along with Department of State in the next few months should adjustments become necessary.
- Employment-based fifth preference category (EB-5):
- EB-5 visa availability date is September 8, 2015 for China, and April 1, 2017 for India.
- For the other countries, and the rest of the world, the visa continues to be available for the nationals from those countries and regions.
- On the EB-5 immigrant investor visa category, a reminder once again to readers that DOS’s visa bulletin for EB-5 preference category has also been updated to reflect the new provisions of the EB-5 Reform and Integrity Act (RIA).
- It now has two (2) pools of visa numbers within the EB-5 category. One is reserved for certain set-aside categories while the remaining available numbers remain ‘unreserved’.
- In the Final Action Dates chart, the employment-based 5th preference category Unreserved is ‘Current’ for all countries, except for China-mainland born, which is subject to a final action date of September 8, 2015 in the EB-5 Unreserved category. It had visa cutoff date of July 8, 2015 starting in the May 2023 visa bulletin as well.
- Furthermore, EB-5 Unreserved category for Indian nationals in the Final Action dates chart is still subject to the same cutoff date of April 1, 2017. In the earlier March 2023’s Visa Bulletin notes, the DOS had warned that further retrogression for this category for Indian nationals may become necessary and this situation must be continuously monitored in the coming months.
- Now, in the final action dates chart for EB5 Set Asides (which covers Rural, and High Unemployment, and Infrastructure areas) for Chinese born applicants as well as applicants from around the world still remain ‘Current’.
- Family-based Immigrant Visa Categories:
- A reminder that DOS is using the Dates for Filing for Family-Sponsored Adjustment of Status Applications.
- But in connection with the actual Final Action Dates table which is the actual visa availability date table to look at, and starting in (June 2023, due to the steady usage of the F2A – Spouses and Children of Permanent Residents – DOS had to set a final action date for this category in order to maintain steady availability of this particular visa category for the upcoming months.
- So, Final Action Date for F2A- India moved ahead to January 1, 2018. This is the same date for use for China, Philippines, and the Rest of the World. Mexico’s F2A cutoff date is September 1, 2016.
- In the earlier July 2023 visa bulletin’s monthly notes, DOS had explained that because F2A visa numbers have maintained steady usage, therefore, there is “strong likelihood that it will be necessary to retrogress the final action date next month to keep number use within the FY-2023 annual limit.”
- In the September 2023 Final Acton Dates for Family-Sponsored Preference Cases, all regions have visa availability date of January 1, 2018. Exception is Mexico, which has EB-2 visa cutoff date of September 1, 2016.
- In addition, in the August 2023 visa bulletin, the DOS had also explained that the F2B – Unmarried Son and Daughters (21 years of age or older) of Permanent Resident, is experiencing steady usage throughout the FY2023 and “it may become necessary to retrogress the final action dates for Rest of World countries, India, and China in the coming months to keep number use within the FY-2023 annual limit.”
- In September 2023 visa bulletin, U.S. Department of State managed to keep the dates unchanged from the August 2023 visa bulletin for all countries.
- DOS points out that these visa movements need to be carefully monitored, and it will adjust accordingly.
- Diversity Visa Lottery:
- U.S. Department of State’s Kentucky Consular Center has announced that it has registered and notified the selectees who ae eligible to participate in the DV-2024 Diversity Visa (DV) program.
- A reminder about the Diversity Immigrant Visa category. DV visa entrants registered for the DV-2024 program did undergo random selection and those who were picked in the lottery would now be able to login to DV-2024 diversity designated website and begin preparations to submit immigrant visa applications by following procedures to do so.
- It should be noted that all eligible DV-2024 visa applicants must receive their immigrant visas (or adjust status, if they are present in the United States) by September 30, 2024.
- If they do not receive their immigrant visas (or adjust their status in the U.S.) by September 30, 2023, then they would lose their chance to do so, and they will have to pursue lottery registration next year again.
- The DV-2025 Diversity Visa Lottery program registration period will be announced in the coming months as well.
While the monthly visa bulletin has slowed down to hardly any movement in visa cut off dates, we do encourage you to check in this space regularly for any further updates.
Pasricha & Patel’s Immigration Department has extensive experience in handling business and personal immigration matters. Our team is happy to speak with you on your specific issue.