Immigration Predictions for 2023

In 2022, the USCIS worked diligently to try and get their processes back on track due to severe effects from the COVID-19 pandemic that began in 2020. Although some progress was made, they are still not operating at 100% of what they were before the pandemic. Over the past 3 years, the immigration landscape has changed dramatically. Wait times have significantly increased, the backlog has grown, and there are even more applicants than ever before. 

As we move into 2023, what can we expect for immigration? Will the USCIS finally get a grip on the neverending backlog of cases, will they finally reach their projected wait time goals, and what else can we expect to see in terms of progress? Let’s take a look at our top immigration predictions for 2023. 

Fees will significantly increase, especially for H1B and green card applicants

While the USCIS has already announced a potential increase in fees early this year, we do believe that this proposal will move forward by the end of the year. While the increase in fees may not be put into effect until 2024, we believe a final rule will be announced this year. 

The increase in fees is essential to the success of the USCIS moving forward, they report. This increase in fees will allow their operations to eliminate the current overwhelming backlog, boost their overall efficiency by hiring additional staff, and allow them to upgrade their processes with new technology. 

The proposed fees include:

  • Increasing the cost of H1B lottery registration from $10 to $215
  • H1B fee increase from $460 to $780
  • L1 fee increase from $460 to $1,385
  • Green card adjustment of status fees from $1,760 to $3,500
  • Additional Asylum Program fee of $600
  • Increase in total fees for forms I-485, I-765, and I-131 from $1,225 to $2,820

The USCIS is still accepting comments on their proposal up until early March 2023, so we can expect an announcement on its status later in the year.

The India EB2 Final Action Date on the Visa Bulletin will remain stagnant until June 2023

After huge retrogressions in the second half of calendar year 2022, India EB2’s Final Action Date has remained essentially unchanged, leaving those who are waiting for their date to be current feeling completely hopeless. The USCIS has reported that there have been overwhelming numbers of applicants across the board in the employment-based category, which has played a role in their decision to not move forward Final Action Dates for virtually all employment-based categories and countries. 

We believe that we will finally see some forward movement in the India EB2 category starting June 2023, when the USCIS has a better understanding of the current backlog versus the number of visas they have remaining for the rest of the fiscal year. We believe it will start making minimal movement, likely by 3 months in June and then 1-2 months each month following, depending on the state of the visa backlog. 

The USCIS will fall short of meeting their new cycle time goals by the end of 2023

Although the USCIS is working towards improvements in their processes, their new cycle time goals seem ambitious to achieve by the end of calendar year 2023. While of course meeting these goals would be a huge accomplishment for the US immigration system, it seems that these turnaround times will be hard to achieve considering the current backlog of all types of cases that the USCIS is trying to work through. However, these goals may be achieved by calendar year 2024, especially after the increase in fees are implemented.

Immigration Predictions for 2023
Source: https://egov.uscis.gov/processing-times/reducing-processing-backlogs

Over 500,000 applicants will be registered into the H1B cap lottery for FY 2024

Hitting an all-time high, it appears that there will be over a half of a million registrations in the H1B cap lottery for fiscal year 2024, which is set to open around the first week of March 2023. The amount of registrations has steadily increased over the past few years, and there has been no decline in the interest of H1B visas. If anything, the interest has significantly grown and will reflect in FY 2024’s registration numbers. 

See here for a complete preview of the H1B FY 2024 cap lottery.

There will only be 1 lottery selection held for the H1B cap lottery for FY 2024

Similar to FY 2023, we don’t believe that there will be more than 1 lottery selection held for the H1B registration cap lottery. In FY 2022, three total lotteries were held in order to meet the number use available after selected applicants did not complete the process. However, in FY 2023, the USCIS selected over 127,000 registrations in the first lottery selection in order to meet all of their number use without having to hold multiple lotteries, and this was successful in preventing a second or third round. We believe they will use this same calculation method to ensure that only one selection round occurs for FY 2024.

Premium processing options will expand in order to generate additional revenue

In 2023, the USCIS will continue to expand premium processing options for H1B/work visas in order to capitalize on the additional revenue. This will greatly support their goals of increasing their cash reserves in hopes of upgrading technology, making all applications electronic, and hiring more employees to strengthen their workforce. 

Visitor visa appointment wait times will reduce to under 200 days for most embassies and consulates in India

Starting off calendar year 2023 right, visitor visa appointment wait times have already begun to reduce from their staggering 999 days in December 2022, which is a light at the end of the tunnel. We believe that the US Embassy in India is working to increase their workforce and implement processes that will allow them to open up more appointments for all types of visas, and specifically B1/B2 visas. We hope to see that visitor visa appointment wait times will reduce to just under 200 days by the end of calendar year 2023. 

A new record number of India student visas issued will be reached in 2023

We believe that 2023’s numbers will surpass 2022’s record numbers in the amount of US student visas issued to Indians.

Our 2023 immigration predictions are solely based on our own opinions and the current state of the immigration landscape. However, we will monitor immigration news and updates closely to keep our site updated with everything you need to know to stay current with your journey to the US. 

Be sure to check back on our site for the latest updates in immigration as 2023 moves ahead or visit our sister website, Trackitt, to discuss and chat with others regarding your immigration issues or thoughts.

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