In a move experts say is a backwards step, the US has announced retrogressing the EB-2 final action dates for all countries except China in their April Visa Bulletin. Reports state that the move was made to stay within the annual limit for the FY 2023 immigrant visa number use.
In other words, the USCIS will be accepting the employment-based (EB) adjustment of status applications, with priority dates that come before the final action dates chart, as highlighted in the April Visa Bulletin by the US State Department.
The bulletin highlighted the following cut-off dates for the issuance of the immigrant visa and for filing or approval of a status adjustment application for Indian applicants are as follows:
1 February 2022 = EB-1
For EB-2, the dates have been retrogressed by 8 months to 1 January 2011.
15 June 2012 for EB-3 (same as before)
The cut-off dates for EB-5 Unreserved categories will remain the same on 1 June 2018 while the EB-5 Set Aside categories are set to remain current.
Defining the US Immigration Terms for EB Visa
To understand the move, let us first understand the different terminologies used for the EB visa categories.
Retrogression: Refers to the backward movement of the cut-off dates, instead of moving ahead, that define the availability of visas.
According to reports, the cut-off dates for almost all family preferences and almost all countries have retrogressed to Jan 1, 2011.
Documentarily Qualified Applicants: These are individuals who are in possession of all the needed documents, as required for the formal visa application, as specified by the respective consular offices. In addition to this, the consular offices will have been ready with the completed processing procedures as required.
Visa becoming Current: In context to the visa bulletin, a ‘current’ visa refers to priority dates that have reached the front of the line, where an applicant has a green card available to them. In other words, no more backlogs or visa wait times.
Impact of this Retrogression on Indians
According to reports, applicants are advised to keep track of the changes that are announced in the monthly visa bulletin. It is recommended to keep all the documents ready at hand, to reduce the possibility of delays at the applicant’s end, thus, allowing them to apply for the green card, as and when it is made available to them.
Those unable to file within a month from when the green card is made available may face such “surprise backward movement, i.e. Retrogression”, in the next visa bulletin, thus, losing out on an opportunity to file for a green card. Reports state, the candidates who have applied for their Green Card, on or before the dates that have been mentioned above are in line to have their applications processed. As clockwork, USCIS updates the dates on the 15th of every month.
The latest visa bulletin states that candidates who applied for the EB-2 green cards on or before Jan 1, 2011, will have their applications processed. However, some experts do not consider the 8-month retrogression an abnormal movement, even though it is significant. Citing a number of reasons for the move, experts have stated that the only thing anyone can do is “wait and watch over the next few months”.
Each consular office reports the total number of documentarily qualified immigrant visa applicants to the visa office. The visa office subsequently compares this number with the number of visas available for the next regular allotment, while, also considering the previous visa demands. In addition to this, the office also takes into account the future visa demand and the return dates, while, also estimating the USCIS demands based on the cut-off date movements.
Based on the data they can calculate using the above-mentioned parameters, the visa office determines the cut-off dates for the following month, subsequently publishing them on the following visa bulletin and notifying the consular posts. It is only based on this Visa Bulletin that all applicants are able to determine when their visas will become current.
While it is not possible to change the green card priority dates, experts recommend moving into other EB categories that are moving faster.
Source: Economic Times
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