September 2022 was a very active month for US Immigration. GLF provided updates via Google, LinkedIn, Twitter on numerous US Immigration matters including:
- Considerations for Green Card Applicants as the end of FY2022 approaches
- USCIS updated Policy Manual relating to religious workers
- USCIS used all the available Employment-based Visas for FY 2022 as of September 6, 2022
- Latest Updates from US Consulates in India
- State Department’s October 2022 Visa Bulletin Summary
- USCIS further extended Premium Processing for certain EB-1 and EB-2 I-140 Applications
We at GLPO post regular updates on our Google, LinkedIn, Twitter, and Instagram handles. Additionally, we also periodically send out GLF Newsletters when the subject matter is extensive and relevant for a detailed analysis. Presented below is a consolidated summary of updates posted on GLF’s Google, LinkedIn, Twitter, handles for September 2022.
CONSIDERATIONS FOR GREEN CARD APPLICANTS AS THE END OF FY2022 APPROACHES
The USCIS and DOS through July 31, 2022, had combinedly used 210,593 employment-based immigrant visas out of the total of 281,507 visas available for FY2022. It also anticipated that annual limit for employment-based preference category for FY 2022 (which came to an end on September 30, 2022) would reach during September 2022. USCIS and DOS would resume further issuance of employment-based green cards in the FY 2023 which is supposed to begin on October 1, 2022.
The annual limit for employment-based visas in FY2022 was almost doubled since the previous fiscal year as a result of underutilization of visas in FY2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. USCIS aimed at issuing as many employment-based visas as possible and approved more than 10,000 employment-based adjustment of status applications in the week which ended on August 14, 2022.
USCIS UPDATED POLICY MANUAL RELATING TO RELIGIOUS WORKERS
USCIS issued policy guidance to reorganize and expand on existing guidance related to special Immigrant Religious Workers. INA allowed noncitizens who worked for a Bonafide Non-Profit Religious Organization or affiliated organization as a Priest / Minister, or in a religious vocation or occupation to qualify as a special Immigrant or to enter the United States temporarily under the R-1 Non-Immigrant visa classification.
The new update reorganized and gave a more detailed information related to Special Immigrant Religious workers:
- In detailed description of the special immigrant religious worker filing process, evidence must be verified, and the process of site-inspection.
- Expansion on additional evidence that a Petitioner (Non-Profit Religious Organization) might submit to demonstrate that the prospective employer was a qualifying organization, that the religious worker would be employed in a qualifying position, and the manner by which the employer intends to compensate the religious worker.
- In situations where the attesting employer was not the entity that would directly compensate the religious worker, USCIS clarified that would review the relationship between the attesting employer and the entity compensating the religious worker in the totality of the circumstances to confirm eligibility.
USCIS USED ALL THE AVAILABLE EMPLOYMENT-BASED VISAS FOR FY 2022 AS OF SEPTEMBER 6, 2022.
The USCIS in a court declaration had confirmed that the annual limit for employment-based preference category limit for FY 2022 (which came to an end on September 30, 2022) had reached as of September 06, 2022. Although USCIS would continue accepting adjustment of status applications in accordance with the September 2022 Visa Bulletin, they would not be approving any further cases. These cases would remain pending until visa becomes available, but the applicants could avail benefits such as AC21 portability, work authorization, and other benefits that would come with filing of adjustment of status applications.
USCIS and DOS would resume issuing further employment-based green cards in the FY 2023 which shall begin on October 1, 2022. It was predicted that the Final Action Dates for EB-2 category for India would retrogress due to high demand, EB-1 category for India would remain current and EB-3 category for India is likely to advance.
LATEST UPDATES FROM US CONSULATES IN INDIA
- 55 New Visa Application Windows were opened in US Consulate in Hyderabad to meet the current visa requirement in the region. Consulate aimed at providing efficient, faster services and also address the waiting period.
- Previously, US Consulates in India were facing an all-time high appointment waiting time across all the visa types. Visitor’s visa (B-1/ B-2) were having a waiting period of 602 calendar days, F-1 Student visa with 450 calendar days and all other Non-Immigrant visas are at 392 calendar days.
- US Consulates would be closer to have 100% staffing next summer.
- Irrespective of backlogs, nearly 82,000 F-1 visas were issued between May and June 2022.
- US Embassy in India had cancelled the placeholder appointments and had directed applicants to schedule regular appointments that were available through 2023.
- MRV fee would continue to have its validity till September 30, 2023, which allowed all applicants to schedule and/or attend a visa appointment with the already paid fee.
- Visitor Visa (B-1/B-2) Applicants were advised to plan their trip well in advance as the waiting time is over 600 days and for those who applied later would get an appointment for March – April 2024.
- Applicants were advised to check against the CGI portal for alternative dates or look for slots over and again if they had any slot available which prompted the system to lock the applicant’s profile for 72 hours straight.
STATE DEPARTMENT’S OCTOBER 2022 VISA BULLETIN SUMMARY
State Department issued the October 2022 Visa Bulletin and here are the highlights:
- Adjustment of status for Family Sponsored filing and Employment Based filing use Dates for Filing chart.
- Final action dates and Filing dates chart for family sponsored preference cases for India have not changed. F-2A is current – meaning Final Action applies
- Final action dates and Filing dates for EB-2 category have retrogressed from December 01, 2014, to April 01, 2012, and January 01, 2015, to May 01, 2012, respectively
- Final action dates and Filing dates for EB-3 category have advanced through February 15, 2012 to April 01, 2012, and February 22, 2012 to July 01, 2012 respectively.
- The Final Action dates for Certain Religious Workers have been listed “Unavailable.”
- The DV-2022 annual limit was reduced to 54,850.
- The Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2022, enacted on March 15, 2022, extended the Employment Fourth Preference Certain Religious Workers (SR) category until September 30, 2022.
USCIS FURTHER EXTENDED PREMIUM PROCESSING FOR CERTAIN EB-1 AND EB-2 I-140 APPLICATIONS
USCIS sought to extend premium processing services through a subsequent phase for Petitioners under EB-1 and EB-2 Classifications. It applied only to certain previously filed Form I-140 Petitions under E13- Multinational Executive and Manager or E21- Members of Professions with Advanced Degrees or Exceptional Abilities seeking a National Interest Waiver.
USCIS began accepting new version of Form I-907 filed on or before January 1, 2022, and February 1, 2022, for the following:
- E13 multinational executive and management petitions received on or before January 1, 2022.
- E21 NIW petitions received on or before February 1, 2022.
The premium processing requests for the above-mentioned Form I-140 classifications would be rejected if the receipt date is after the above-mentioned dates. USCIS had 45 days to decide when a case is being filed for Premium Processing for one of these recently added Form I-140 categories. Previous Premium Processing applications on new (original) Forms I-140 would not be approved by USCIS.
USCIS would continue to work to expand Premium Processing services for additional I-140 categories, Form I-539 (Application to Extend/Change Non-immigrant Status) and Form I-765 (Application for Employment Authorization)
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