The Department of State released the new Visa Bulletin for January 2024 just yesterday. This blog post will try to provide a summary of any movement in this bulletin of relevance.
Before getting to the summary of the current bulletin, here is a little bit about what the Visa Bulletin is and the information it contains. Every person who becomes a permanent resident in the US is given an immigrant visa number. This includes all those overseas who go to the Consulate and are actually given an immigrant visa stamp in their passport as well as all those who file an I-485 in the US and are NOT given an actual immigrant visa stamp. The Visa Bulletin is a listing of where the Department of State and USCIS are in terms of handing out Immigrant Visas. Every permanent resident category is listed and a date is given (or a C for current) as to which cases can be filed in a given month. Those cases with priority dates PRIOR to the date listed in the visa bulletin can proceed to get an immigrant visa stamp overseas or to have their I-485s approved by USCIS in the US.
It should be noted that the visa bulletin now has two charts - Final Action Dates and Dates for Filing. The Final Action Date chart shows the dates for which immigrant visa numbers are actually available (so I-485s and consular processing cases which can be approved and an immigrant visa number granted). The Dates for Filing chart lists the dates in each category to alert the Consulates and USCIS as to where the Department of State feels the Final Action Dates will be within 6 months. This allows the Consulates to start working on cases that will become current over the next six months and gives USCIS the ability to allow people to file I-485 applications for cases for which the Final Action Date is not yet current but should be current in the near future. Every month, USCIS determines which chart people should use to determine if they can file an I-485 or not. For the month of January 2024, USCIS has determined that, for both Family and Employment-Based Categories, the Dates for Filing chart can be used.
Family Based Cases:
For the most part there was not much movement. The Dates for Filing chart stayed the same, but there was only very little forward movement for most categories. The most suprising was that the F2A category for Spouses and Children of permanent residents backlogged MORE to February of 2019. While we cannot be sure what this means exactly, excpet that they received more requests for immigrant visas than they thought the would, we do know that the Date for Filing in this category still stayed at September 1, 2023. To me this means that, most likely, Department of State still feels that the category will move forward in the nearish future.
Employment Based Cases:
There was LOTS of movement in the Final Action Dates and some movement in the Dates for Filing for most categories this month.
EB-1: Final Action Dates: China moved forward almost 5 months to July 1, 2022; India jumped forward about 3 years to September 1, 2020.; and, The EB-1 worldwide numbers stayed Current. Dates for Filing: China moved forward about 5 months to January 1, 2023; India jumped about 2.5 years to January 1, 2021; and, as with the Final Action Dates, Worlwife numbers were current here as well.
EB2: Final Action Dates: Worldwide numbers moved forward about 4 months to November 1, 2022; China moved forward about 3 months to January 1 2020; and, India moved forward about 2 months to March 1, 2012. Dates for Filing: Worlwide numbers moved forward about 1.5 months to February 15, 2023; China moved forward about 5 months to June 1, 2020; and, unfortunately India stayed at May 15, 2012.
EB-3: Final Action Dates: Worlwide numbers jumped forward about 9 months to August 1, 2022; China moved forward about 8 months to September 1, 2020; and, India moved some (about 1 month) to June 1, 2012. Dates for Filing: China moved forward about 10 months, to July 1, 2021; All other areas stayed the same.
Unfortunately the Department of State once again gave no additional guidance with these numbers. We will update you as soon as we hear about any guidance that the Department of State gives out or when a new Visa Bulletin is published, whichever happens first.
Please remember, as always, this blog does not offer legal advice. If you need legal advice, consult with a lawyer instead of a blog. Thank you.