September 2021 Visa Bulletin: Extra Green Cards Available Next Year

The September 2021 visa bulletin released by USCIS is not much different from the previous month’s, August 2021’s visa bulletin. The most progress in green card priority dates is made among the EB-3 India visa category while the others have slowed down.

A new fiscal year begins on October 1, 2021. Being the very last one for the fiscal year 2021, the September’s visa bulletin came with a few disappointments. One of the main ones being that a huge number of immigrant visa numbers will remain unused as the year wraps up in September. As the wait for green cards keeps increasing each year, from 75 to 195 years, this unused number is heart-breaking for scores of green card applicants waiting in line. 

The Good News

USCIS has reported that the FY 2021 Worldwide Employment-based preference limit is 262,288. This is a sharp increase from the limit of 156,253 immigrant visas from last fiscal year. And consequently, the employment-based immigrant visa limit for Y 2022 is expected to be even higher, and anticipated to be close to 300,000!

The sudden increase in total green cards being issued is because of the following reasons – 

  • Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) guidelines regarding immigrant visa limits and usage;
  • The Covid pandemic related processing delays;
  • The current slow processing rate at USCIS;
  • The immigration ban of family-based immigrant visas instituted by former President Trump.

The only way maximum number of these green cards can be utilized is if and when USCIS begins processing as many adjustment of status applications as possible. Additionally, green card case processing will need to increase at U.S. consular posts and USCIS in a more aggressive manner.

Adjustment Of Status Applications

USCIS will be using the Final Action Dates chart for employment-based adjustment of status applications. To be eligible, foreign nationals will need to have a priority date that is earlier than the date listed below for their preference category and country. Please note: since India & China are predominant among the supply of highly skilled workforce to the United States, we are focused on their priority dates as a benchmark for advancements – 

  • EB-1: All countries, including China and India, will remain current.
  • EB-2: China will advance by three months to July 1, 2018, and India will advance by three months to September 1, 2011. All other countries will remain current.
  • EB-3 Professionals and Skilled Workers: Cutoff dates for China will remain the same at January 8, 2019, while India will advance six months to January 1, 2014. All other countries will remain current.
  • EB-5: The Non-Regional Center program will be current for all countries except China. China will advance by one week to November 22, 2015. 

EB-5 Program Status

The Regional Center program has expired and is listed as unavailable in the Visa Bulletin. If reauthorized, the Regional Center program will mirror the Non-Regional Center final action dates.

US Congress was expected to renew the EB-5 program but hasn’t so far. Until then, USCIS has issued guidance on how to treat your EB-5 petition.