As many know, the Department of State’s Visa Bulletin controls when an applicant may submit his or her DS-260 immigrant visa or I-485 adjustment of status application. Many people waiting for a preference category to become “current” monitor the Visa Bulletin which is updated every month by the State Department. In essence, immigration law states that a preference category applicant (e.g., the spouse of a green card holder or the sibling of a U.S. citizen or an employee beneficiary waiting under the Employment-Based Second or Third preference categories) cannot submit his or her immigrant visa/adjustment of status application until an immigrant visa is “immediately available”. The Visa Bulletin may be reviewed online.
Unfortunately, due to the pandemic and political issues, family-based immigration dates under the Final Action Dates (or Chart A), have not moved a great deal. This is due, in part, to the Embassies around the world not being able to resume full operational status because of the pandemic. As a result, many unused immigrant visas intended for family-sponsored cases are left unused.
The “positive effect” of these unused family immigrant visa numbers is that they are now transferred to the next fiscal year’s employment-based preference visas. In a recent YouTube interview, the State Department’s expert stated that in Fiscal Year 2021 he expects approximately 130,000 of the normal 226,000 visas will not be used by September 30, 2021. As a result, on October 1, 2021, the worldwide level for annual employment-based preference immigrants, which is normally set at 140,000, will see an incredible increase to approximately 270,000. Many employees with an approved I-140 petition with the employer whom they are working with now may have an opportunity to file their adjustment of status application if they are physically present in the U.S.
Those watching the Visa Bulletin carefully should see some movement in the beginning of the 2022 fiscal year.