The Department of State (DOS) has released the May Visa Bulletin and the Final Action Dates chart showed steady movement forward for both EB2 and EB3 categories for the retrogressed countries of China and India. India EB3 jumped the most; 5 months. All other countries remained current. The USCIS announced that for May, it would follow the Final Action Dates chart for the filing of I-485 cases.
HNM attorneys Anita Smalley and Douglas Halpert have published an article on meeting the ability to pay requirement in the I-140 context.
The Department of State has released the April Visa Bulletin and the Final Action Date chart continued to show steady forward movement across all categories and countries with established cut-off dates. All EB1 countries moved to current and both India and China EB2 and EB3 categories saw jumps of several months. The USCIS has yet to announce whether they will accept the Dates for Filing chart for 485’s in April. We will update this information as it becomes available. The big bonus contained in this month’s Visa Bulletin was the announcement of “Chats with Charlie” and a YouTube channel dedicated to the Visa Bulletin. We encourage you to check out this months Chat here. The good news this month was a prediction that in FY 2022, the DOS expects a total of 275,000 visas to be available for employment based side due to a mixture of the Visa Ban and COVID19. (see posts from 2-26-2021 and 9-24-2020 if you want more info. on this). In FY2021, there was a total of 262,000 visas available and the priority dates jumped multiple years at the beginning of the fiscal year on 10-1-2020. We expect the same this coming fall. There are a number of practical implications of this for both employers and international employees. For international employees, this means getting a green card much sooner than expected which is great news but, it also means finding a stable employment situation and staying where you are. For employers, this will mean less talent in the pool willing to move for the next 12-18 months. Expect to need to make adjustments to your immigration policies immediately.
The USCIS has announced that they will no longer apply the Public Charge Rule introduced by the Trump Administration but, will revert back to the rule that was in effect prior to October of 2019. A summary of the rule that will now be applied can be found here. As a practical matter, this means that the 944 will not be required when filing I-485 applications and certain portions of the I-129 and I-539 need not to be completed. A summary of the changes can be found at the USCIS public charge web-page.
The White House released a proclamation that revoked the Trump Immigrant Visa Ban (Proclamation 10014). What may appear to be good news for US employers and those seeking to immigrate to the US, is in reality, only good news for family based immigrants but, bad news for employer sponsored immigrants. The immediate impact on employment based visas is limited. Very few immigrant visas are issued by US Consulates with the overwhelming majority of those obtaining immigrant visas (green cards) via employer sponsorship using the I-485 procedure and Proclamation 10014 did not cover I-485 adjustments. The exception is international RN’s who traditionally are issued immigrant visas by a US Consulate however, healthcare workers were generally exempted from Proclamation 10014 resulting in RN’s not being impacted. The impact will be seen later this fall in the number of Immigrant Visas allocated to Employment Based categories for FY 2022 which will only be known in Oct of 2021. For FY 2021, there were approximately 120,000 additional immigrant visas allocated to the employment based categories from unused family based numbers due in major part to Proclamation 10014. With the lifting of the Immigrant Visa ban, it is projected that we will not see such an infusion of additional visas in Oct of 2021. Revoking the Immigrant Ban is a good decision by President Biden and in principle, the right action to be taken but, there will be negative consequences.
The Department of State (DOS) has released the March Visa Bulletin and all categories that were current in February, remained current for March. All categories for both India and China saw forward movement at a greater pace than in previous months with EB1 jumping forward over 6 mos. As expected, the USCIS has chosen not to honor the Dates for Filing Chart but, only accept I-485 filings based upon the Final Action Date chart. This position by the USCIS continues to leave those who’s I-485’s were rejected due to filing errors with no opportunity to re-file after correcting the deficiency.
Last week, the Department of State (DOS) released the February Visa Bulletin and as expected, it remained largely unchanged. India and China EB1 saw several months of forward movement in the Final Action Date Chart but, other categories saw forward movement of only a few days. The USCIS announced that it would not honor the Dates For Filing Chart but, would only honor the Final Action Date Chart for I-485 filings. Given the difficulties they have had in issuing receipts for the I-485 filings they received in October, this is not a surprise. The DOS provided some projections over the coming months and indicated that those categories and countries that are now current are expected to remain current. They also expect EB1 for India and China to become current within the next few months. Finally, they also projected slow forward movement for all other categories and countries. Retrogression remains a major problem.
On this day, when the legal immigration world should be celebrating an incoming President that, at the very least, will not be anti legal immigration, we are still reading and trying to understand the implications of the new rules announced in the past week. Here is a link to a great summary from our friend Stuart Anderson. Many of the new rules target healthcare and IT occupations and employers. We will provide updates as actions are taken by President Biden.
The USCIS has issued an update letting its stakeholders know that we can expect delays in the issuance of receipt notices. (A more obvious statement could not be made as we are waiting on receipts from filings made 3+ months ago) Relative to I-485 and I-765 receipts, the USCIS stated that we can expect “significant delays”. The communication did not give any estimate as to when they will once again be able to provide receipts in a timely manner but, did indicate they were working extra hours to handle all of the filings. Our office and the immigration bar at large has experienced not only delays by the lockbox but, also a significant number of inaccurate rejections. The lockbox facilities are not fully staffed by trained USCIS employees which may be part of the problem.
Update as of 1-30-2021 Per information reported by the USCIS to AILA
Dallas Lockbox: 415,000 applications in the backlog post October 29, 2020 that have not even been opened yet.
Phoenix Lockbox: 100,000 applications in the backlog that have not even been opened yet.
Chicago Lockbox: Roughly current and cases are being receipted within a week.
Please note that the destinations for Employment Based I-485s have recently changed and many cases are now being sent to the Chicago Lockbox, which previously only processed family-based petitions.
Earlier this week, the Department of State (DOS) released the January Visa Bulletin. All categories for all countries other than India and China remained current in the Final Action Date chart. India saw a jump of 5 mos. in the EB1 category but, merely a week in the EB2 and EB3 categories. China saw the same 5 mo. jump in the EB1 category but, only modest forward movement in the EB2 and EB3 categories. The USCIS announced that for purposes of filing I-485 Adjustment of Status Applications in Jan 2021, they will be honoring the Final Action Date chart and NOT the Date for Filing chart. This announcement brings to an end the expanded filing window and it is expected that the Final Action Date chart will be used for the remainder of the fiscal year, although that has not been officially announced. For some of you, this means that you only have a few days left to file or it may be next October or even longer before you have the opportunity to file a 485 again.