October 2020 Visa Bulletin: Impact on Indian & Chinese Nationals | Rapid Processing Expected in 2021
Context on Green Cards
The U.S. government limits the number of employment-based immigrant visas (i.e. green cards) to approximately 140,000 in any year (the government's fiscal year runs from 10/1 to 9/30). The 140,000 immigrant visas are divided between the various employment-based preference categories (i.e. EB-1, EB-2, EB-3). In addition, within the overall allocation, there is also a per country limit of 25,620. This means that if more than 25,620 individuals apply from any one country, the per-country limit is reached. Hence, from time-to-time, the demand for immigrant visas/green cards can exceed the supply, on a per-country basis, in a particular preference category and/or on a worldwide basis. When the demand for immigrant visas exceeds the supply, immigrant visas are not immediately available and a problem called “visa retrogression” occurs.
In periods of visa retrogression, even when there is an approved labor certification and/or an approved I-140 immigrant visa petition, the individual essentially has to wait “in line” for his or her turn to file the last step of the permanent residency case, known as the I-485 (Change of Status), or, if the I-485 is already on file when visa retrogression occurs, the individual will have to wait “in line” for the case to be approved.
An individual’s place in line is determined by the "Priority Date" of the permanent residency petition. The priority date is the date the labor certification is filed (or, for those cases not requiring labor certification, the date of the filing of the I-140 petition).
There are two charts in the Visa Bulletin. The I-485 permanent residency petition cannot be approved unless the priority date is before the date listed on the Final Action chart. On some occasions, the I-485 may be filed earlier, if permitted by the USCIS, as indicated by the Dates for Filing chart.
What's new for Fiscal Year 2021?
The State Department has released its October Visa Bulletin. Here are the cutoff dates (refer to Final Action Chart) for issuance of employment based green cards -
China & India - advance by three months to June 01, 2018
All other countries - remain current
China - advance by six weeks to March 01, 2016
India - advance by two months to September 01, 2009
All other countries - remain current
China - advance by four and a half months to July 01, 2017
India - advance three and a half months to January 15, 2010
EB-3 for Indian Nationals
The “Dates of Filing” chart has had a rapid movement to a cutoff date of January 1, 2015.
How does it impact me?
The move to consider “Dates of Filing” majorly impacts Indian Nationals whose Priority Date is before January 01, 2015 . USCIS has announced, on its Visa Bulletin Web Page, that it would consider “Dates of Filing” chart in October for acceptance of adjustment of status applications next month (October).
Why has this happened?
Considerable increase in employment-based green card quota for Fiscal Year 2021 is expected. The fiscal year 2020 closed at 156,253 green cards allocation. This number is anticipated to be 261,500 (increase of 105,247) for FY 2021 (October 2020 through September 2021)
The pandemic has caused a slowdown in the processing of family-based green cards thus moving the unused visas to the employment-based category. Therefore, petitioners can expect rapid advancement in the slow moving categories.
What should I do if I have filed in EB2 or EB3 categories?
We suggest talking to your immigration attorney and chalking out a plan of action as to what steps need to be taken in case USCIS does decide to consider the Dates of Filing chart.
WayLit continues to monitor USCIS’ announcement and will update this page as more information becomes available.
A support team member should reach out to you if your employer is WayLit’s client to discuss if this bulletin impacts you.
What can I do to be ready?
USCIS requires the following documents to be submitted for the primary applicant and each of the dependents listed on the I-485.
Most recent tax return transcript from the IRS: This can be obtained for free by contacting the IRS at: https://www.irs.gov/individuals/get-transcript. Note that the tax transcript is NOT the same as the tax return. It is recommended to request a tax return transcript online because it is quickest. If not available online, then you can request the transcript by mail OR you can make an appointment at a local IRS office and request the transcript in-person, using this link: https://apps.irs.gov/app/officeLocator/
W-2s: Most recent W-2s for you and for each I-485 beneficiary filing with you who has worked in the United States.
Official credit report: This can be obtained for free through the TransUnion credit report from www.annualcreditreport.com online. If you cannot obtain the report online, you can print the Annual Credit Report Request Form and mail it to: Annual Credit Report Request Service, P.O. Box 105281, Atlanta, GA 30348. Note that this can take 2 - 4 weeks.
Credit score: You can obtain your credit score through your credit card company or by paying a credit reporting agency at www.annualcreditreport.com online. Note that your free credit report is not the same as your credit score.
Health Insurance Information: You need to provide evidence of health insurance for yourself and each I-485 dependents. The health insurance evidence must include:
A copy of the policy page showing the terms and type of coverage and individuals covered; or letter on company letterhead or other evidence from your health insurance company stating you are currently enrolled in health insurance and providing the terms and type or coverage; or the latest Form I0950B or 1095C Health Coverage form (used for tax filings)
Evidence of the amount of annual deductible or annual premium and the effective dates of your coverage
Education Information: Copy of your dependents’ highest degree or diploma, translated into English.
Content in this publication is not intended as legal advice, nor should it be relied on as such. For additional information on the issues discussed, consult a WayLit-affiliated attorney or another qualified professional.