November 2021 Visa Bulletin
According to the State Department’s November Visa Bulletin, final action cutoff dates for issuance of an immigrant visa will be as follows:
- EB-1: All countries, including China and India, will remain current.
- EB-2: China will advance by four and a half months to November 15, 2018, and India will advance by three months to December 1, 2011. All other countries will remain current.
- EB-3 Professionals and Skilled Workers: EB-3 India will retrogress almost two full years to January 15, 2012. EB-3 China will retrogress by about nine and a half months to March 22, 2018. All other countries will remain current.
- EB-5: The Non-Regional Center program will be current for all countries except China. China will remain at November 22, 2015. The Regional Center program has expired and is listed as unavailable in the November Visa Bulletin. If reauthorized, the Regional Center program will mirror the Non-Regional Center final action dates.
In the Dates for Filing chart, EB-3 India and China retrogress by the same amounts as the Final Actions Dates chart, with cutoffs reverting to January 22, 2012 and April 1, 2018, respectively. For EB-2 India and China, the Dates for Filing chart shows advancement in both categories – by moving five months ahead to February 1, 2019 for China, and moving six months ahead to January 8, 2013 for India.
Employment-based adjustment of status filings
In November, USCIS will accept adjustment applications based on the Dates for Filing chart, as it did last month. USCIS will accept employment-based adjustment of status applications with a priority date that is earlier than the Dates for Filing listed in the November Visa Bulletin.
EB-3 India and China retrogressions
In last month’s Visa Bulletin, the State Department released projections for the next several months of visa availability, stating that retrogressed Final Action Dates could be imposed for India and China as early as November 2021. These projections were a reversal from the agency’s prior EB-3 predictions stating that retrogressions were unlikely to be imposed prior to the summer of 2022.
In the November Visa Bulletin, the State Department explains that the new retrogressions are due to a recent heavy increase in visa demand by USCIS in connection with adjustment of status adjudication. Towards the end of FY 2021, USCIS significantly increased their rate of adjustment adjudications in an attempt to minimize the number of immigrant visa numbers that would go unused for the fiscal year. In last month’s State Department Youtube event to discuss the Visa Bulletin and related projections, the agency stated that if a retrogression was to occur, the agency’s goal would be to retrogress only once during the fiscal year and then either hold steady or move forward during the rest of that fiscal year. The agency does not want to move dates ahead too early and then need to retrogress them again in further months, resulting in a potential back and forth of cutoff dates, if at all possible.
Impact of consular operations challenges
Visa application backlogs coupled with reduced consular operations due to COVID-19 public health measures will continue to limit the issuance of immigrant visas by U.S. consulates abroad. Immigrant visa (IV) applicants who are no longer subject to the Trump-era immigrant ban may see their cases move forward, but should continue to expect delays as most consulates are still at reduced capacity as they try to work through backlogs. Those previously refused under the IV ban should await further instruction from the U.S. consulate that handled their application.
Expired EB-5 Regional Center program
The EB-5 Regional Center program expired on June 30, 2021 and is therefore listed as “unavailable” in the November Visa Bulletin. Immigrant visa issuance and adjustment of status adjudications under this category ceased after the close of business on June 30. USCIS has provided guidance on its treatment of regional center-affiliated filings while legislation to reauthorize the Regional Center program are being negotiated in Congress. Advocacy efforts to support reauthorization are ongoing.