The US Department of State has published the May 2023 Visa Bulletin, which establishes the priority date cutoffs for each country, regulating the availability of immigrant visas and the processing of adjustment of status and consular immigrant visa applications.
In May 2023, the US Citizenship and Immigration Services will use the chart listing the final action dates for employment-based adjustment of status applications. The EB-2 and EB-3 categories for All Chargeability Areas, Mexico, and the Philippines have significantly regressed, while the Other Workers and China EB-3 categories have advanced.
What Does the Bulletin Say?
The bulletin consists of two charts: the Dates for Filing Visa Applications and the Application Final Action Dates. The former indicates when intending immigrants can file their applications for adjustment of status or immigrant visas. At the same time, the latter shows when adjustment of status or immigrant visa applications can be approved, leading to permanent residence.
“Final Action Date” is the date when USCIS/DOS may render their final decision on submitted applications. Your priority date should be before this date.
“Date for Filing Application” is when you can submit I-485/NVC applications to USCIS/DOS. Your priority date should be before this date.
“Priority Date” is the date that USCIS received your I-130 petition. It represents your place in the line of people waiting for green cards to become available, as shown in the monthly visa bulletin.
Final Action Cutoff Dates for Employment-Based Preference Category
For individuals seeking to file an EB adjustment application in May 2023, their priority date must be earlier than the dates mentioned below, depending on their preference category and country of origin.
A category marked with “C” is considered current, allowing applicants to file regardless of their priority date. However, if a category has a specific date listed, only applicants with a priority date earlier than the given date are eligible to file their applications.
Source: U.S. Department of State, May 2023 Visa Bulletin
The April 2023 visa bulletin states that the cutoff date for Employment-Based First Preference (EB-1) will stay the same for all categories. This suggests that EB-1 applicants from China and India with priority dates before February 1, 2022, may do so but have not yet submitted their I-485 petitions.
All other EB-1 categories, however, are currently (C) and do not have any deadlines.
EMPLOYMENT-BASED SECOND PREFERENCE (EB-2)
The EB-2 application deadline for applicants from All Chargeable Areas, Mexico, and the Philippines has been pushed out to February 15, 2022, a four-and-a-half-month delay. Because of this, individuals from these regions who have not yet submitted their I-485 petitions to the USCIS and have a priority date before February 15, 2022, may do so.
With the EB-2 cutoff date for China remaining on June 8, 2019, those Chinese EB-2 applicants with a priority date earlier than this date and who have not yet submitted their I-485 forms with the USCIS are still eligible to do so.
The EB-2 cutoff date for India will likewise remain the same on January 1, 2011, allowing Indian EB-2 candidates who have a priority date before this date and who have not filed their applications to do so.
EMPLOYMENT-BASED THIRD PREFERENCE (EB-3)
Effective immediately, there will be some changes to the cutoff dates for the Employment-Based Third Preference (EB-3) visa category. For applicants who are chargeable to All Chargeable Areas, Mexico, and the Philippines, the cutoff date will retrogress from the current date to June 1, 2022.
This means those with priority dates before June 1, 2022, who haven’t filed their I-485 applications yet can now do so with the USCIS. On the other hand, the cutoff date for China will be moved up to April 1, 2019, by five months. As a result, Chinese EB-3 candidates with priority dates before April 1, 2019, can now submit their I-485 applications to the USCIS.
Finally, the EB-3 cutoff date for India will remain unchanged on June 15, 2012. Indian applicants in the EB-3 category, with priority dates before June 15, 2012, can file their I-485 applications with the USCIS.
The cutoff date for Other Workers in All Chargeability Areas, Mexico, and the Philippines will continue to be January 1, 2020. This indicates that applicants for Other Workers from these regions who have not yet submitted an I-485 application and whose priority date is before January 1, 2020, may do so with the USCIS.
The Other Workers in China deadline will be moved up to April 15, 2015, by 6.5 months. As a result, Chinese citizens who wish to apply as Other Workers, whose I-485 petitions have not yet been submitted and whose priority dates fall before April 15, 2015, may do so with the USCIS.
The deadline for Other Workers in India remains June 15, 2012. This implies that applicants from India, whose priority dates fall before June 15, 2012, are eligible to submit their I-485 applications to the USCIS, provided they haven’t done so already.
- According to US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), it will use the final action dates chart mentioned above to determine eligibility for filing I-485 adjustment of status applications for May 2023 (rather than the dates for filing chart).
- The Department of State and USCIS have taken these measures in response to the continued high demand for green card applications in the EB-2 and EB-3 categories for the majority of countries, including the rest of the world, as described above, as well as the fact that there are fewer of them available this fiscal year compared to fiscal years 2021 and 2022.
- In the upcoming months, the Department of State will continue to assess the demand for visa applications and make additional modifications.
- Future retrogressions for EB-1 India and China have been anticipated in the coming months, as well as EB-2 and EB-5 India as early as June.
What’s at Stake
Monitoring recent changes (and expected upcoming developments) in the Visa Bulletin is crucial if you’re waiting for a green card. It’s always a good idea to gather all the paperwork you’ll need in advance for your green card application so that you’ll be prepared to submit it as soon as the Visa Bulletin indicates that a green card is available.
If you wait until a month after a green card becomes available to submit your application, you risk receiving a surprise retrogression (“retrogression”) in the ensuing Visa Bulletin, which would end your window of opportunity for submitting a green card application.
Watch for the update next month! As always, we’ll let you know about all the significant changes.