USCIS Sets November 2023 Adjustment of Status Filing Charts For the Visa Bulletin
Sheetal A. Patel of Pasricha & Patel, LLC, explains the adjustment of status filing charts for the Visa Bulletin
With the U.S. Department of State (“DOS”)’s publication of its November 2023 visa bulletin, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (“USCIS”) has decided that it will continue to use the Dates for Filing 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 from the previous Fiscal Year 2023’s visa bulletins. 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. The discussion of employment-based immigrant visa categories will focus primarily on the Final Action Dates table.
Employment-based Immigrant Visa Categories:
- When the USCIS decided to use the Dates for Filing table, the intention was to give more opportunities for immigrant visa applicants to submit their adjustment of status applications. This despite the fact that the final action dates made minimal, if little gains from the previous October 2023 visa bulletin. In fact, in the notes to the previous October 2023 visa bulletin, the Department of State had explained that the date advancements in the final action dates across most of the employment-based visa categories is with the aim to keep visa issuance within quarterly limits in accordance with INA, while also keeping an eye out for date advancements in the fiscal year 2024. It is still too early to tell how the date movements will proceed, but we expect that with continued strong demand for these visas, the Department of State will need to be extra vigilant to keep visa numbers available and not let the visa numbers get used up prematurely. This is certainly worth keeping an eye out for the rest of the fiscal year 2024.
- Employment-based first preference category (EB-1) (with focus on the Final Action Dates table):
- There is no movement for India, as the visa availability date continues to remain on January 1, 2017 in the November 2023 table, just like it was in the October 2023 table. This is not unexpected as there is great demand for this particular category. So, it is hard to see India’s date advancing much more than this in the coming months.
- China’s visa date also remains on February 15, 2022.
- Meanwhile, for ‘World’, and Mexico, and Philippines, EB-1 is still Current/Available.
- Employment-based second preference category (EB-2):
- The visa availability date for EB-2 India continues to stay on January 1, 2012. There is no change from the October 2023 table.
- For China’s visa preference category: the visa availability date also remains on October 1, 2019.
- There is also some slight movement in the EB-2 visa category across all countries and regions in the November 2023 visa bulletin.
- So, the EB-2 visa numbers for Rest of the World; and Mexico; and the Philippines only moved slightly ahead, to July 15, 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 stays on May 1, 2012, which continues to be better than the EB-2 visa preference category for India.
- EB-3 China’s visa availability date remains on January 1, 2020.
- In the EB-3 Other Workers category, there was no movement for Rest of the World countries – it remains on August 1, 2020. And there was also no movement ahead for Mexico – August 1, 2020. And EB-3 Other Workers category for the Philippines – remained unmoved on May 1, 2020.
- Based on past year’s trends, it is understandable that the Department of State would have to be very mindful to keep these immigrant visa categories in check and continuously monitor the level of demand for EB-3 visas and make any necessary adjustments as needed in the coming months.
- Employment-based fourth preference category (EB-4):
- EB-4 category has cut off date of January 1, 2019 for all countries around the world.
- In fact, the EB-4 religious worker visa program is set to expire on November 17, 2023. If U.S. Congress does not extend this program by midnight November 16, 2023, then EB-4 for religious workers will become ‘Unavailable’. That also means that visas issued prior to November 17, 2023 will only be issued with a validity date of November 16, 2023, and all individuals seeking admission as a non-minister special immigrant must be admitted into the U.S. no longer than midnight November 16, 2023.
- Department of State advised readers to monitor this situation along with Department of State in the next few weeks as we move closer to that key date.
- Employment-based fifth preference category (EB-5):
- EB-5 visa availability date remains on October 1, 2015 for China, and December 15, 2018 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 (Rural, High Unemployment, and Infrastructure), 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 October 1, 2015 in the EB-5 Unreserved category. It had visa cutoff date of September 8, 2015 in the September 2023 visa bulletin.
- Furthermore, EB-5 Unreserved category for Indian nationals in the Final Action dates chart is still subject to cutoff date of December 15, 2018.
- 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 continue to 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 stayed on February 8, 2019. This is the same date for use for China, Philippines, and the Rest of the World. Mexico’s F2A cutoff date is February 1, 2019.
- 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 November 2023 Final Acton Dates for Family-Sponsored Preference Cases, the various regions have visa availability dates of varying cutoff dates.
- In addition, back 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.”
- Starting in the October 2023 visa bulletin, and for the latest November 2023 visa bulletin, U.S. Department of State did make strides to move the visa dates more available than before. Most dates did move forward and for most countries that is an improvement over the Fiscal Year 2023’s available dates.
- DOS points out that these visa movements need to be carefully monitored, and it will be adjusted accordingly throughout the fiscal year 2024.
- Diversity Visa Lottery:
- 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, 2024, then they would lose their chance to do so, and they will have to pursue lottery registration next year again.
- Department of State also recently announced that as of September 7, 2023, they have issued all available diversity visas for the 2023 Diversity Visa program.
- The DV-2025 Diversity Visa Lottery program registration period started on October 4, 2023 and runs through November 7, 2023.
While the monthly visa bulletin using the Dates of Filing table for the employment-based immigrant petitions, it does offer some more opportunities for immigrant visa applicants who may otherwise had to wait even longer to be able to at least become eligible to file adjustment of status applications (along with Employment Authorization Document and Advance Parole travel document).
It will be important to keep track of how USCIS decides to either use Dates of Filing or Final Action Dates table as we move forward in the coming months of Fiscal Year 2024. For this key reason, we do encourage readers 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.