Immigrant Visa Processing Changes – Employment Based Categories Expected To Advance; Coronavirus/DOS Closures Continue To Cause Uncertainty And Unpredictability; Visa Office On Priority Dates, Demand, And Predictions

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In our continuing series of reports, Charles (“Charlie”) Oppenheim, Chief of the Visa Control and Reporting Division, U.S. Department of State, shares his most recent analysis of current trends and future projections for the various immigrant preference categories with AILA (the American Immigration Lawyers’ Association).

Below are highlights from the most recent (June 28, 2021), reflecting his analysis of current trends and future projections for the various immigrant preference categories on the State Department July 2021 Visa Bulletin.

Check-in with DOS’s Charlie Oppenheim:  June 28,2021

Employment-based Preference Categories (Except EB-5 China)

The DOS indicated that some advancement for employment based (EB) categories through September 2021 is expected, though it is hard to say how fast it will be. The advance may slow down towards the end of Fiscal Year (FY) 2021. There is still no expectation of retrogression in the foreseeable future.

EB India and China may advance rapidly in the beginning of FY 2022.  The DOS reminded stakeholders that U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) reported that in fall 2020, EB-3 had the highest rates of adjustment of status filings of all EB categories.

EB-5 China:  No movement is expected in the EB-5 China category through September 2021 unless larger numbers are processed in the summer.  There may be movement in October or November 2021.

Dates for Filing Charts:  The DOS indicated that there is no reason to anticipate that July EB Dates for Filing chart dates will be reached for final action this fiscal year. The standard estimate for when Dates for Filing dates may appear on the Final Action Date chart is eight to 12 months.

No Retrogression:  The DOS does not anticipate that either Final Action Dates or Dates for Filing will retrogress in the foreseeable future.

Unused EB Visa Numbers:  The DOS did not speculate on the number of unused EB visas, but the agency expects there to be very large number of unused immigrant visa numbers.

The agency reminded stakeholders that the FY 2021 EB limit is 262,000 visa numbers. Before the pandemic, it typically was 140,000 to 155,000 immigrant visa numbers. A huge increase is expected next year with less staffing and less processing this year. The FY 2022 limit is expected to be at least 290,000 EB visas.

Family-based Preference Categories

Family-based (FB) categories are expected to continue to advance through September 2021, though the advance may slow down toward the end of the fiscal year.

Counting Family Members:  The DOS reminded stakeholders that principals and each derivative count separately under the immigrant visa numerical limit.

You may access the July 2021 Visa Bulletin here and the August 2021 Visa Bulletin here

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