Your Guide to the November 2021 Visa Bulletin, What to Expect, and More! — Visa Lawyer Blog — October 14, 2021

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Welcome back to Visalawyerblog! In this blog post, we will cover the release of the November Visa Bulletin 2021 and what you can expect for employment based and family preference categories during the month of November 2021.

The Department of State releases the visa bulletin on a monthly basis, which summarizes the availability of immigrant visa numbers for that particular month. The “Final Action Dates” and “Dates for Filing Applications,” charts indicate when immigrant visa applicants should be notified to assemble and submit the required documentation to the National Visa Center.

If you would like to follow along on each month’s progress for the Visa Bulletin please be on the lookout for the “Chats with Charlie” series on the DOS YouTube Channel. 

Chats with Charlie is a monthly series recently launched by the State Department where Charlie Oppenheim, Chief of the Immigrant Visa Control & Reporting Division of the U.S. Department of State, answers your frequently asked questions regarding each month’s Visa Bulletin. Questions can be emailed to VisaBulletin@state.gov ahead of the event with “Chat with Charlie Question” in the subject line.


Adjustment of Status Filings for those lawfully residing in the United States


In general, if USCIS determines there are more immigrant visas available for a fiscal year than there are known applicants for such visas, the agency will provide instructions on the www.uscis.gov/visabulletininfo webpage that applicants may use the Dates for Filing chart. Otherwise, USCIS will indicate that applicants must use the Final Action Dates chart to determine when they may file their adjustment of status application with USCIS. If a particular immigrant visa category is “current” on the Final Action Dates chart or the cutoff date on the Final Action Dates chart is later than the date on the Dates for Filing chart, applicants in that immigrant visa category may file using the Final Action Dates chart during that month.


Adjustment of Status Filing Chart November 2021


For Family-Sponsored Filings:

Pursuant to guidance released by USCIS, in the F2A category, there is a cutoff date on the Dates for Filing chart. However, the category is “current” on the Final Action Dates chart. This means that applicants in the F2A category only may file using the Final Action Dates Chart in the Department of State Visa Bulletin for November 2021.

For all other family-sponsored preference categories, applicants must use the Dates for Filing Chart in the Department of State Visa Bulletin for November 2021.


For Employment-Based Preference Filings:

All applicants, except EB-5 Regional Center, falling under employment-based preference categories, must use the Dates for Filing chart in the Department of State Visa Bulletin for November 2021. This means that USCIS will accept employment-based adjustment of status applications (except EB-5 Regional Center) with a priority date that is earlier than the Dates for Filing listed in the November Visa Bulletin.

NOTE: USCIS will not accept any new employment-based fifth preference adjustment of status applications based on the Regional Center Program until that program is reauthorized by Congress.


November 2021 Visa Bulletin Final Action Cutoff Dates


Employment Based Categories


FINAL ACTION DATES FOR EMPLOYMENT-BASED PREFERENCE CASES

According to the Department of State’s November 2021 Visa Bulletin, the following final cutoff dates will apply for the issuance of an immigrant visa for employment-based categories:

  • 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.
  • Dates for Filing Chart: On the “Dates for Filing Chart,” EB-3 India and China have retrogressed 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.

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DATES FOR FILING FOR EMPLOYMENT-BASED PREFERENCE CATEGORIES

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Notice about EB-3 India and China Retrogressions


In last month’s October Visa Bulletin, the State Department indicated that retrogressed Final Action Dates could be imposed for India and China as early as November 2021. Previously, the State Department had predicted that EB-3 retrogressions would not be imposed prior to the summer of 2022.

In this month’s Visa Bulletin, the State Department explains that the new retrogressions are “a direct result of extraordinarily heavy applicant demand for numbers” in the EB-3 India and China visa categories by USCIS in connection with adjustment of status applications to permanent residence. Mr. Charlie Opppenheim, Chief of the Immigrant Visa Control & Reporting Division, had mentioned in the October Visa Bulletin Chats with Charlie YouTube broadcast that USCIS was significantly optimizing the processing times of adjustment of status applications for employment-based categories to try to minimize the number of immigrant visa numbers that would go unused for the fiscal year. Oppenheim also made clear in last month’s Chats with Charlie YouTube broadcast that if a retrogression were to occur, the agency would make its best efforts so that it would only occur once during the fiscal year with movement remaining steady or slightly advancing throughout the remainder of the fiscal year. Oppenheim has said that he will not move the dates ahead only to have to retrogress them a few months later as this strategy does not provide beneficial for applicants.

To read Oppenheim’s predictions in the October Visa Bulletin Chats with Charlie YouTube broadcast please click here


Family Sponsored Categories


According to the Department of State’s November 2021 Visa Bulletin, the following final cutoff dates will apply for the issuance of an immigrant visa for family-sponsored categories:

FINAL ACTION DATES FOR FAMILY-SPONSORED PREFERENCE CASES

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In last month’s Chats with Charlie YouTube broadcast with Charlie Oppenheim he made clear that regarding worldwide family dates, no movement is expected before January. In addition, Oppenheim has said that he does not expect any movement of the family sponsored worldwide dates for 3 to 6 months and potentially longer than 6 months.

To read Oppenheim’s predictions in the October Visa Bulletin Chats with Charlie YouTube broadcast please click here


DATES FOR FILING FOR FAMILY-SPONSORED PREFERENCE CASES


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Impact of President Biden’s Rescission of Proclamation 10014 on the Issuance of Immigrant Visas


In February of this year, President Biden made the decision to rescind Presidential Proclamation 10014 and lift the temporary suspension on the issuance of visas for most immigrant and nonimmigrant visa categories, however the operational capacity at U.S. Embassies and Consulates worldwide remains limited due to COVID-19 safety concerns.

The Department of State has said that while some Embassies are prioritizing immigrant visa scheduling for spouses of U.S. Citizens, public health and safety concerns remain paramount. Moreover, U.S. Embassies and Consulates are facing substantial backlogs due to the suspension of most visa operations.

Applicants who were previously subject to the immigrant visa ban under Proclamation 10014 may continue with pre-processing of their applications, however their cases will not be scheduled for an interview until Embassies and Consulates return to routine operational capacity. This will likely take time therefore applicants should expect long delays. Those who were previously refused under the Immigrant Visa ban must wait for further instruction from the U.S. Consulate handling their application.


The Expiration of the 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 2021 Visa Bulletin. Absent legislative action in Congress to reauthorize the program, immigrant visa issuance and adjustment of status adjudications under this category will be halted as of the close of business on June 30, 2021. Bills to reauthorize the Regional Center program are still pending in Congress, and we do not yet know what the outcome of this legislation will be. All updates on approved legislation will be provided right here on our blog. Discussions to resuscitate the program remain ongoing before Congress.

For the latest information on the status of the EB-5 Regional Center program please click here.

As a reminder EB-5 applications that were not submitted as part of the Regional Center program remain unaffected.


Questions? If you would like to schedule a consultation, please text 619-483-4549 or call 619-819-9204.


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