Each month, the U.S. Department of State’s Visa Office (V.O.) compiles an update to the “waiting list” for immigrants from countries subject to the quota system under the Immigration and Nationality Act.
The total number of documentarily complete applicants reported to V.O. are compared each month with the numbers available for the next regular allotment of visas that may be issued. Numbers are then allocated to reported applicants in order of their priority dates, with the oldest dates processed first.
If there are enough visa numbers available in a particular category to satisfy the demand of documentarily complete applicants, the category is considered “current.” For example, if the Employment First preference monthly target is 5,000 and there are only 3,000 applicants, the category is “current.”
However, when the total number of documentarily complete applicants in a visa category exceeds the available supply of visa numbers allotted for the upcoming month, the category is considered “oversubscribed,” and a visa availability final action date is established. This results in visa “retrogression,” which refers to situations when there are more visa applicants for a certain category or country than there are available visas for that month.
The State Department has recently published the November 2021 Visa Bulletin, and has established final action dates for the issuance of important employment-based immigrant visas as follows:
- EB-1 Priority Workers: All countries, including China and India, will remain current.
- EB-2 Advanced Degrees/Exceptional Ability: China will advance by 4.5 months to November 15, 2018, and India will advance by 3 months to December 1, 2011. All other countries will remain current.
- EB-3 Professionals and Skilled Workers: India will retrogress almost 2 full years to January 15, 2012. China will retrogress approximately 9.5 months to March 22, 2018. All other countries will remain current.
- EB-5 Employment Creation: The Non-Regional Center program is current for all countries except China. China’s final action date will remain at November 22, 2015. The Regional Center program has expired and is listed as “unavailable.” If reauthorized, the Regional Center program will mirror the Non-Regional Center final action dates.
Applicants have become increasingly frustrated with visa application backlogs, which can be traced to reduced consular operations due to COVID-19 public health measures. On a related note, USCIS has also faced increasing criticism for failing to issue as many as 80,000 unused green cards that were set to expire on October 1, 2021. This was a huge disappointment to many foreign workers who were hoping they would no longer need to rely on temporary work visas to stay in the U.S. Unfortunately, visa applicants should continue to expect delays as most consular posts abroad are still working at a reduced capacity as they try to work through backlogs.
For the latest information on visa processing at U.S. Embassies and Consulates during the Covid-19 pandemic, visit www.travel.state.gov. For additional information about how the latest Visa Bulletin affects your company and potential employees, contact Mechelle Zarou at email@example.com; Maria del Carmen Ramos at firstname.lastname@example.org; or Ali Latif at email@example.com.