The year hasn’t started out great for those waiting for their visa priority dates to become current. In the first visa bulletin of the 2023 calendar year, neither EB2 or EB3 progressed forward for India. After huge retrogressions towards the second half of the 2022 calendar year, the uncertainty of when we will see any movement in these key categories remains.
This leaves the question of what we can expect for the February 2023 visa bulletin. Not surprisingly, it doesn’t seem anyone is expecting a large surge forward for any of the employment-based categories. This is partly due to the fact that a priority date was put into place in the January 2023 visa bulletin for India and China’s EB1 category due to a vast increase in overall applications for employment-based visas.
With the ever growing increase of employment-based visa applications, the light at the end of the tunnel doesn’t seem to be visible. In order to tackle the current backlog and to eventually become more caught up in the employment-based visa categories, it seems the USCIS needs to take drastic measures to make their processes quicker and more efficient.
USCIS Fee Increase Proposal
One of the ways that the USCIS is preparing to tackle and prevent visa application backlogs is by increasing fees for immigration and natuarlization. These fees will increase substantially, and will help cover costs completely as well as allow for hiring more personnel and investing into better technology and tools. Although this is not yet a final rule, the USCIS is working towards making this official after a national engagement hearing in January 2023. Afterwards, they will determine what fee increases will be enacted and when – they are estimating this will be put into final rule by 2024.
February 2023 Visa Bulletin Predictions
Due to the fact that not much has changed in the immigration landscape since last month, and the complete lack of any movement in the employment-based category in the January 2023 visa bulletin, we can’t expect that there will be much (or any) forward movement for February 2023. It is possible that the final action date for India EB3 will advance by a month or so, however, India EB2 will likely stay stagnant.
While the family-based categories remained unchanged in January’s visa bulletin, we may see some movement in these categories – likely by a month or two in the F1 category.
New Adjustment of Status Form
If you are filing your adjustment of status form, be sure it is the correct version. The USCIS just revised the Form I-485 and released the new edition on 12/23/22. If you are filing on or after 12/23/22, be sure to use this updated Form I-485. If you do not use the updated version, your filing will be rejected.
The February 2023 visa bulletin will likely be released on Tuesday, January 17th. Stay tuned for our full analysis of the bulletin once it is released!