Written By: Alizeh Karmali
The U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Consular Affairs has released the April 2023 Visa Bulletin. On March 22, 2023, USCIS determined that for April 2023, applicants in all employment-based preference categories must use the Final Action Dates chart. This is in response to the continuing high demand for green card applications in the EB-2 category. To be eligible to file an EB adjustment application in April 2023, a foreign national must have a priority date that is earlier than the date listed below for their preference category and country. The “current” listing means that applications may be filed regardless of the applicant’s priority date. The Final Action Dates Chart is included here
The employment-based preferences are ranked as follows:
● First: Priority workers: 28.6% of the worldwide employment-based preference level, plus any numbers not required for fourth and fifth preferences.
● Second: Members of the Professions Holding Advanced Degrees or Persons of Exceptional Ability: 28.6% of the worldwide employment-based preference level, plus any numbers not required by first preference.
● Third: Skilled Workers, Professionals, and Other Workers: 28.6% of the worldwide level, plus any numbers not required by first and second preferences, of which not more than 10,000 may be provided to “Other Workers”
● Fourth: Certain Special Immigrants: 7.1% of the worldwide level.
● Fifth: Employment Creation: 7.1% of the worldwide level, of which 32% are reserved as follows: 20% reserved for qualified immigrants who invest in a rural area; 10% reserved for qualified immigrants who invest in a high unemployment area; and 2% reserved for qualified immigrants who invest in infrastructure projects. The remaining 68% are unreserved and are allotted for all other qualified immigrants.
It is important to note that the priority dates for the Employment-Based Second Preference (EB-2) category has retrogressed in multiple subcategories, including worldwide, India, Mexico, and Philippines. Item D in the March 2023 Visa Bulletin warned that retrogression in the EB-2 category was likely due to higher than expected number use and demand since December 2022. Because of this, the EB-2 final action dates for Rest of World, India, Mexico, and the Philippines retrogressed to keep number use within the FY 2023 annual limit. This is continuously monitored, and any necessary adjustments will be made accordingly.
EB-2 key changes:
● China EB-2 will remain at June 8, 2019
● India EB-2 will retrogress eight months to January 1, 2011
● All other countries under EB-2 will retrogress four months to July 1, 2022
It is also important to note that the EB-3 India Professional/Skilled Worker Final Action date will remain at June 15, 2012, and the EB-3 China Professional/Skilled Worker category will advance by three months, to November 1, 2018.
The priority dates in the EB-4 category have also retrogressed significantly, as seen in the final action date chart above. The final action date changes for EB-4 include:
● Rest of World: 01FEB22 to 01SEP18 (-3 years 5 months)
● China: 01FEB22 to 01SEP18 (-3 years 5 months)
● India: 01MAR21 to 01SEP18 (-2 years 6 months)
● Mexico: 01AUG20 to 01SEP18 (-1 year 11 months)
● Philippines: 01FEB22 to 01SEP18 (-3 years 5 months)
This change significantly increases wait times for an EB-4 immigrant visa from a few months to several years as of April 1, 2023, for most applicants. Those EB-4 applicants who have already filed an AOS application can remain in the United States even though they are no longer eligible to obtain a green card. USCIS will hold their file until the date on the Visa Bulletin reaches their priority date. When this occurs, USCIS will approve the green card. Until then, AOS applicants are eligible to receive extensions of employment and travel authorization. Nonimmigrants, such as nonimmigrant religious workers (R-1), who have not yet filed an EB-4 AOS application may need to leave the United States when their status expires. For example, R-1s will need to leave the United States for one year when they exhaust their 5-year limit in R-1 status. After one year, they may be eligible for a new period R-1 status. During that time, they may be able to file their AOS application.
Sources: https://www.aila.org/advo-media/tools/psas/client-flyer-changes-to-eb-4-in-the-april-2023 https://www.aila.org/infonet/visa-bulletin-for-april-2023 https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/legal/visa-law0/visa-bulletin/2023/visa-bulletin-for-april-2023.html