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USCIS Sets March 2024 Adjustment of Status Filing Charts For the Visa Bulletin

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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 March 2024 visa bulletin, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (“USCIS”) has decided that it will return 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 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 also touch upon the Final Action Dates table.  

Employment-based Immigrant Visa Categories:

  • When the USCIS decided to use the Dates for Filing chart, the intention was to give more opportunities for immigrant visa applicants to submit their adjustment of status applications.  Then, in the January 2024 visa bulletin,  there was some significant movement and gains from the previous December 2023 visa bulletin.  It should be no surprise that in the February 2024 visa bulletin, all the dates that were published for January 2024 chart remains unchanged in February 2024.  Then, starting with the March 2024 visa bulletin, USCIS decided to use the Final Action Dates table.  As noted in earlier visa bulletin analysis, the U.S. Department of State is maintaining its goal to keep visa issuance within quarterly limits and in accordance with INA.  That is how they can maintain the visa numbers for eligible users for the visa numbers in the next few months, and likely for the remaining part of the fiscal year 2024.  U.S. Department of State is being extra vigilant to keep visa numbers available and not let the visa numbers get used up prematurely.  This needs continuous monitoring for the rest of the fiscal year 2024.  
  • Employment-based first preference category (EB-1) (in the Final Action Dates table):
    • There is slight movement for India, as the visa availability date advanced by one month to October 1, 2020.  The hope is that this represents a steady forward movement for Indian nationals.  It is still a rather significant jump ahead for Indian nationals because just a few months ago, in the December 2023 visa bulletin, it showed January 1, 2017 as the visa cutoff date.
    • China’s visa date also moved ahead by ½ month to July 15, 2022.
    • Meanwhile, for ‘World’, and Mexico, and Philippines, EB-1 is still Current/Available.  
  • Employment-based second preference category (EB-2)(in the Final Action Dates table):
    • The visa availability date for EB-2 for India moved ahead by ½ month to March 15, 2012.  Perhaps this is U.S. Department of State’s signal that it projects some slight improvement in the EB-2 visa category.  This certainly is a category that needs further monitoring.
    • For China’s visa preference category:   the visa availability date remained on January 1, 2020, with no change from the February 2024 final action dates table.
    • There is also some slight movement in the EB-2 visa category across other countries and regions in the March 2024 visa bulletin.
    • So, the EB-2 visa numbers for Rest of the World; and Mexico; and the Philippines moved slightly ahead to November 22, 2022. 
      DOS had previously noted that this situation needs to be continuously monitored and adjustments will have to be made, if necessary.
    • This reflects the Department of State’s interest to release visa numbers in the 1st quarter of year 2024 in order to monitor the visa numbers usage in employment-based immigrant visas in general.  
  • Employment-based third preference category (EB-3) (in the Final Action Dates table):
    • EB-3 India’s visa availability date remained the same on July 1, 2012, which continues to be better than the EB-2 visa preference category for India.  But this gap will continue to shrink according to U.S. Department of State’s projections.  
    • EB-3 China’s visa availability date stayed on September 1, 2020.
    • In the EB-3 Other Workers category, there was some movement for Rest of the World countries – it moved ahead to September 8, 2020.  There was no movement for China in this category.  It stayed on January 1, 2017.  India remained on July 1, 2012.  Mexico moved slightly ahead to September 8, 2020.  And there was no movement for the Philippines, as it remained on May 1, 2020.  
    • Based on past year and continuing to recent 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 May 15, 2019 for all countries around the world.
    • In fact, the EB-4 religious worker visa program is set to expire on March 8, 2024.  If U.S. Congress does not extend this program by midnight March 7, 2024, then EB-4 for religious workers will become ‘Unavailable’.  That also means that visas issued prior to March 7, 2024 will only be issued with a validity date of March 7, 2024, and all individuals seeking admission as a non-minister special immigrant must be admitted into the U.S. no longer than midnight March 7, 2024.
    • Department of State advised readers to monitor this situation along with Department of State in the later weeks of February 2024 as we move closer to that key date.
  • Employment-based fifth preference category (EB-5) (referring to the Final Action Date chart):
    • In the Unreserved category, EB-5 visa availability date remains on December 15, 2015 for China, and stayed on December 1, 2020 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’.
    • Finally, in the Final Action Dates chart for EB5 Set Asides (which covers Rural, and High Unemployment, and Infrastructure areas) for Chinese born and Indian born applicants as well as applicants from around the world continue to remain ‘Current’.
  • Family-based Immigrant Visa Categories:
    • A reminder that DOS continues to use the Dates for Filing for Family-Sponsored Adjustment of Status Applications chart. 
    • 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, in the Final Action Date for F2A- India, it moved ahead significantly to June 22, 2020.  This is the same date for use for China, Philippines, and the Rest of the World.  Mexico’s F2A cutoff date is on June 15, 2020.
    • In the much earlier June and 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.”    This trend continues in the FY 2024 visa bulletin.
    • In the March 2024 Final Acton Dates for Family-Sponsored Preference Cases, the various regions have visa availability dates of varying cutoff dates.
    • 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.” 
    • Interesting, for the latest March 2024 visa bulletin, U.S. Department of State had moved dates in F2B as follows:
      • India moved ahead to November 22, 2015.  It was on October 1, 2015 in the February 2024 Final Action Dates table
      • China also moved ahead to November 22, 2015.  It was previously on October 1, 2015 in the February 2024 Final Action Dates table too.
      • The rest of the world moved ahead to November 22, 2015.
      • Mexico remained on October 22, 2003, and the Philippines remained on October 22, 2011.
    • 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.
    • The DV-2025 Diversity Visa Lottery program registration period started on October 4, 2023 and concluded on November 7, 2023.  The results should become available in the next few months.

By using the Final Action Dates for Employment-based Preference Cases in the March 2024 monthly visa bulletin, U.S. Department of State is signaling that it is doing all it can to hold in check the visa numbers for the employment-based preference categories while it faces great demand for these visa preference categories on all levels.   
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.