The August 2023 Visa Bulletin has been released, and as we near closer to the end of the 2023 fiscal year, we are seeing much more backwards movement in high demand categories and preferences in order to keep annual visa usage numbers within certain limits.
In addition to nearing the end of the 2023 fiscal year, demand for both family-based and employment-based visas has been higher than ever, which is causing the need for more established final action dates and more retrogression than expected.
Let’s take a closer look at the changes from the July 2023 Visa Bulletin to the August 2023 Visa Bulletin and further discuss these priority date changes.
August 2023 Visa Bulletin Results
Here are the results of the August 2023 Visa Bulletin and the prority date changes for both family and employment-based categories.
Final Action Date
- F1 for ROW, China, India +17 days
- F2A for ROW, China, India, Mexico, Philippines -2 years 11 months
- F3 for ROW, China, India +17 days
Date of Filing Application
- F1 for Mexico +2 years 3 months
- F2B for Mexico +2 years 4 months
Final Action Date
- EB1 for ROW, Mexico, Philippines no longer “current” – August 1, 2023 priority date
- EB1 for India -10 years 1 month
- EB2 for ROW, Mexico, Philippines +1 month 14 days
- EB2 for China +1 month
- EB3 for ROW, Mexico, Philippines -1 year 9 months
- EB3 for China +2 months
Date of Filing Application
- EB3 for China +2 months
- EB2 for China +2 months
F2A Sees Significant Retrogression for ROW, China, Mexico, and Philippines
In the family-based second preference, Rest of World, China, Mexico, and Philippines priority dates all retrogressed by 2 years and 11 months. This comes after a final action date was established for this preference back in the April 2023 Visa Bulletin, since this category for these countries was “current” prior.
In the July 2023 Visa Bulletin, it was warned that further retrogression was coming for this category as demand was high for all countries and number use needed to be controlled. Due to number use remaining steady, a retrogression was necessary in order to keep number use within the fiscal year’s annual limit for this preference.
F2A numbers that are exempt from the per-country limit are available to applicants from all countries with priority dates that are earlier than September 1, 2016. F2A numbers that are subject to the per-country limits are available to applicants chargeable to all countries except Mexico for priority dates beginning on September 1, 2016, and earlier than October 8, 2017. Mexico F2A numbers are all exempt from the per-country limit.
Possible Retrogression Coming for F2B
In Item D of the August 2023 Visa Bulletin, the U.S. Department of State mentions that number use in the F2B category has also remained steady throughout the 2023 fiscal year, which may necessitate a retrogression in this category for Rest of World, India, and China in the September 2023 Visa Bulletin to keep number use within the annual limit.
EB1 for ROW, Mexico, Philippines No Longer “Current”
Because of high demand within the employment-based first preference, a final action date has been established for Rest of World, Mexico, and Philippines which will be effective in August. The priority date for this category and these countries is August 1, 2023. It is noted, however, that it is likely that this category will return back to “current” for these countries in October when the number use limits refresh.
India EB1 Retrogresses by 10 Years
In the May 2023 Visa Bulletin, it was noted that the EB1 category for India was close to needing a retrogression due to India being oversubscribed. Due to being oversubscribed, India is subject to prorating by law.
What does oversubscribed mean for a country?When the total number of qualified applicants for a category exceeds the supply of the numbers available for a particular month, it is considered to be “oversubscribed”.
Prior to the August 2023 Visa Bulletin, applicants under India were able to receive prior unused numbers for EB1. However, because a worldwide final action date has been established for EB1 due to higher demand than available visas, the U.S. Department of State is no longer able to give EB1 visas outside of the per-country limits. This means that India applicants are no longer able to receive extra EB1 numbers.
Since India EB1 has already reached their limit for fiscal year 2023, a final action date for January 1, 2012 has been established – which is the oldest priority date of an EB1 applicant. The Department also notes that many Indian EB1 applicants have priority dates between 2012-2015.
In October, it is likely that the final action date for India EB1 will advance back to the final action date of the July 2023 Visa Bulletin – February 1, 2022. However, this will depend upon the demand for EB1 under India and the annual limit for employment-based visas set for fiscal year 2024.
EB3 Retrogresses By 1 Year, 9 Months for ROW, Mexico, and Philippines
In the May 2023 Visa Bulletin, a final action date was established in the EB3 category for Rest of World countries, Mexico, and the Philippines due to high demand and the need to keep number use within the fiscal year 2023 limit.
Due to high demand from applicants with priority dates earlier than the established final action dates, it has become necessary to further retrogress these dates. Rest of World, Mexico, and the Philippines now have a EB3 final action date of May 1, 2020.
How Are Final Action Dates Determined?
Every month, the Visa Office (VO) receives a comprehensive report from each consular post that provides a breakdown of the total number of qualified immigrant visa applicants in categories subject to numerical limitations. The cases are organized based on the foreign state chargeability, preference category, and priority date. Additionally, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) informs the VO about the demand for adjustment of status cases awaiting the advancement of the applicable cut-off date as they are preadjudicated. This documentarily qualified demand is compiled during the first week of each month.
The VO divides the annual preference and foreign state limitations as specified by the INA into monthly allotments. The total number of documentarily qualified applicants reported to the VO is then compared with the available numbers for the next regular allotment. Determining the available numbers involves considering various factors, such as historical number usage, estimations of future number usage and return rates, and estimations of additional USCIS demand based on movements in the final action dates. Once this analysis is completed, the final action dates are established, and the numbers are assigned to reported applicants based on their priority dates, with the oldest dates given priority.
If a particular category has enough numbers to meet the reported documentarily qualified demand, it is classified as “Current.” For instance, if the monthly allocation target is 3,000 and there is a demand for only 1,000 applicants, the category would be considered “Current.”
However, if the total number of documentarily qualified applicants in a category exceeds the supply of available numbers for the given month, the category is deemed “oversubscribed,” and a final action date for visa availability is established. The final action date represents the priority date of the first documentarily qualified applicant who cannot be accommodated with a visa number. For example, if the monthly target is 3,000 and there is a demand for 5,000 applicants, a final action date would be set to allocate only 3,000 numbers. In this scenario, the cut-off date would be the priority date of the 3,001st applicant.
Only individuals with a priority date earlier than the final action date are eligible to receive a visa number. The final action dates occur on the 1st, 8th, 15th, and 22nd of each month, as the VO groups the demand for numbers under these dates.
September 2023 Visa Bulletin Predictions
As we near even closer to the end of the 2023 fiscal year in September’s Visa Bulletin, it is likely that more retrogression will be seen in order to keep number use within the annual limit. Our predictions for the September 2023 Visa Bulletin include:
- F2B final action dates will retrogress for Rest of World, India, and China
- EB1 final action date for China will retrogress
- EB2 final action date for India will retrogress
Check back soon for our in-depth predictions of the September 2023 Visa Bulletin! Also, head over to Trackitt to discuss your thoughts on the August 2023 Visa Bulletin.
To view the August 2023 Visa Bulletin, visit the U.S. Department of State website.