On Sept. 15, 2023, the U.S. Department of State (DOS) published the October 2023 visa bulletin for the start of the government’s new fiscal year (FY 2024). The October 2023 visa bulletin reflects advancements in several employment-based categories in both the Final Action Dates and Dates for Filing Charts. Shortly after the DOS released the latest visa bulletin for the upcoming month, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced it would shift from using the Dates for Final Action chart in September 2023 to the Dates for Filing chart in October 2023 to determine filing eligibility for employment-based adjustment of status. Please see below for the October 2023 Dates for Filing of Employment-Based Visa Applications Chart:
|Certain Religious Workers||01MAR19||01MAR19||01MAR19||01MAR19||01MAR19|
(including C5, T5, I5, R5)
|5th Set Aside:|
(Rural – 20%)
|5th Set Aside:|
(High Unemployment – 10%)
|5th Set Aside:|
(Infrastructure – 2%)
Please see below for a summary of movement in key employment-based categories that accounts for advancements in the visa bulletin and USCIS’ shift from honoring the Final Action Dates to Dates for Filing chart:
- EB-1 China: advances six months to Aug. 1, 2022;
- EB-1 India: advances seven and a half years to July 1, 2019; and
- EB-1 All Other Countries: advances two months and will be current.
- EB-2 China: advances roughly six months to Jan. 1, 2020;
- EB-2 India: advances nearly one and a half years to May 15, 2012; and
- EB-2 All Other Countries: advances six months to Jan. 1, 2023.
- EB-3 China: advances one year to Sept. 1, 2020.
- EB-3 India: advances more than three and a half years to Aug. 1, 2012; and
- EB-3 All Other Countries: advances roughly three years to Feb. 1, 2023.
Though the October 2023 visa bulletin brings advancements in the short-term, USCIS’ subsequent update tempers expectations for significant advancement in the upcoming fiscal year. According to USCIS, the agency “issued an unprecedented number of employment based green cards in fiscal years 2022 and 2023.” USCIS explained that “employment-based numerical limits for FY 2024 and beyond are not expected to be as high as in previous years because fewer family-based immigrant visas will go unused, resulting in less carryover to the employment-based allocations.” USCIS expects an uptick in family-based green card applications relative to the number of family-based applications during the pandemic. Consequently, there will be less unused family-based green card allocations that pool into the employment-based categories, thereby reducing the total number of expected employment-based green cards available. As a result, there may be less advancement in the visa bulletin during the upcoming fiscal year and a greater chance for noticeable retrogression towards the end of the upcoming FY 2024.
This is a disappointing result for many, including the advocacy organizations and stakeholders who have recently been vocal in arguing for further advancement of the visa bulletin, including a bipartisan group of more than 50 Congresspersons who had advocated for such. While USCIS’ subsequent announcement highlighted various other actions that the agency has taken to support employment-based immigration, the government’s actions fell short of these stakeholders’ expectations.