More Visas in FY2022; Vietnam Continues Brisk Advancement While China Stalls
“Chats with Charlie”
Over 1,000 stakeholders tuned in live to the first “Chats with Charlie” on the @TravelGov YouTube channel. Charlie Oppenheim, Chief of the Visa Control and Reporting Division at the U.S. Department of State addressed pre-submitted and live real-time questions on the April Visa Bulletin, visa limits, and the methodology for advancement of priority dates.
COVID-19 Impacts on FY2022 Visas
Due to closure and limited services/appointments at consulates all over the world, visas will likely go unused again this year. The worldwide level for annual employment-based preference immigrants is set at, at least 140,000, however, in 2022 absent legislative action, Charlie expects that number to be at least 275,000, gaining over 135,000 unused visas from the family preference. EB-5 Employment Creation is entitled to 7.1% of the worldwide level, which could mean 19,525 immigrant visas for EB-5 applicants in FY2022, almost double the 10,000 visas EB-5 can typically expect. That would make the per-country limit for next year over 1,366, almost double the 700 visas countries typically expect. This could provide considerable priority date advancement in FY2022 for backlogged countries like China and Vietnam.
China has seen no advancement in priority date since September 2020. According to Charlie Oppenheim, DOS now has approximately 9,000 Chinese already documentarily qualified and ready to interview, up from 8,000 in November 2020. Unfortunately, the US Consulate in Guangzhou (GUZ) is offering extremely limited visa services at this time, therefore DOS will not be advancing the final action date for China-mainland born applicants on the Visa Bulletin for likely the remainder of FY2021. In addition, USCIS closed Chart B for Adjustments of Status (AOS) earlier in the year. DOS will not be advancing the dates to allow for more EB-5 Adjustments of Status (for applicants currently in the United States), which are continuing to be processed by USCIS, while the consulate sits at a near standstill. While advancing the priority date would allow more visa numbers to be used by AOS applicants, it would cause dramatic retrogression once the consulate opens, as there is already more than enough demand at the current priority date. In addition, no advancement on Chart B means USCIS is unlikely under their new visa availability approach to process I-526 petitions filed after December 15, 2015 for the remainder of FY2021 as a visa is not available or soon to be available to Mainland China-born petitioners.
Vietnam saw the greatest monthly advancement in priority date since September 2020, moving 54 days from the March 2021 Visa Bulletin. Partners has had almost a dozen interviews at the consulate in HCMC since February. With the consulate open Charlie expects the priority date for Vietnam to advance at a steady pace for the remainder of FY2021. Vietnam was the only country to see movement in April’s visa bulletin. This gives Vietnam hope of using all or many of their 1,300 FY2021 visas, for an up to 23% reduction in backlog.
All Other Countries - Current
There is no delay for applicants of all other countries.
The Biden Administration has signaled favorably toward visa recapture in their commitment to modernization of the US immigration system, however, that would require a legislative change from Congress. According to Charlie Oppenheim, there is precedence for this action, visas have been recaptured twice, with the most recent instance in 2005.