At the beginning of the fiscal year, we typically observe some good movement in the dates listed in the visa bulletin allowing more and more applicants to file for their green card. This trend generally continues for the first three to four months of the fiscal year. Although the October visa bulletin saw some movement in dates, the November visa bulletin looked almost identical except for a minor advancement in the EB-2 category for “all other countries.”
Over the past few years there have been more employment-based visas available, following the COVID pandemic, caused by an overspill of unused family-based visas caused by consulate closures. This resulted in significantly more visas being available beyond the usual 140,000 annual limit. In fact, in FY 2022 the number of available employment-based visas more than doubled, allowing a greater number of individuals to file for their green card. However, in September 2023, USCIS estimated that the number of employment-based visas would be 165,000 for FY 2024, the lowest number since FY 2020.
With fewer family-based visas carrying over into the employment-based quota and a substantial influx of applications, the likelihood of any forward movement during this fiscal year is exceedingly low. For example, in September USCIS stated they had already received sufficient applications for EB-2 and EB-3 India to use all the available visas for FY 2024 and several fiscal years in the future. In fact, recent data from USCIS shows that the EB-2 India inventory of adjustment of status applications is 41,405. Bear in mind that the estimated annual limit for EB-2 India is less than 4,000, meaning that USCIS already has enough EB-2 adjustment cases for at least the next 10 years.
If you compare the October visa bulletin to the November visa bulletin, there is very little change. The “all-other country” category for EB-2 advanced by 7 days, but the remaining dates both on the final action dates chart and filing dates chart stayed the same.
Unlike countries such as India, which are accustomed to facing backlogs, the “all other country” category typically does not experience this issue. The lack of movement in only the second month of the fiscal year is an ominous sign, suggesting the likelihood of little to no advancement and a probable regression of dates.
Nevertheless, EB-5 priority dates in nearly every category continue to remain current. At PLG, we’ve noticed a growing interest in EB-5, and we anticipate this trend to persist, especially while interest rates remain high.
The challenges and uncertainties surrounding the Visa Bulletin highlight the pressing need for comprehensive reform in the allocation of employment-based visas. The current quota falls significantly short of meeting the increasing demand for visas, and the consequences are far-reaching, affecting both aspiring immigrants and the competitiveness of the United States in the global job market. Congress needs to take action by significantly increasing the number of employment-based visas available.
Canada’s proactive measures to attract H-1B candidates facing prolonged green card wait times serve as a stark reminder of the competition for global talent.
USCIS already permits individuals to utilize the filing dates chart, so why not advance these dates further to enable more people to file for adjustment of status and obtain an EAD? I’m not suggesting this would fix the problem with the backlog but allowing individuals to file their adjustment would provide greater flexibility, especially for those laid off. It would also allow individuals to port to another employer after 180 days without having to start the green card all over again.
If you have questions regarding the above, please reach out to PLG Partner, Chris Prescott at email@example.com.