October Visa Bulletin
Next month, USCIS will accept Employment-Based Adjustment of Status applications based on the October Visa Bulletin’s Dates for Filing chart. The October Visa Bulletin’s Dates for Filing advance to July 8, 2012 (EB-2) and January 8, 2014 (EB-3) for India and to September 1, 2018 (EB-2) and January 15, 2019 (EB-3) for China. All other EB-1, EB-2, and EB-3 dates are current. Final Action Dates for Employment-Based Preference Cases in the October Visa Bulletin all remain the same as the September Visa Bulletin.
USCIS Field Offices, which are the regional and local offices responsible for the final stages of green card approval, continue to focus efforts on approving as many pending applications as possible as the USCIS fiscal year ends on September 30, 2021. Applicants with pending cases should coordinate with their Parker Gallini immigration attorney to ensure that all documents, including medical exams, are ready for submission to USCIS as soon as requested.
Immigration Proposals Included in Build Back Better Reconciliation Bill
Legislative proposals included in the U.S. House Judiciary Committee’s latest markup of the Build Back Better Reconciliation bill create a pathway to citizenship for an estimated 8 million people, including Dreamers, Temporary Protected Status and Deferred Enforced Departure holders, and Farm Workers and other Essential workers; recapture unused family-based visas, Diversity Visas, and employment-based visas; and increase funding for USCIS.
The legislative proposal recaptures visas lost due USCIS’s slow processing of immigrant visa applications to restore around 500,000 unused visas. The proposal accounts for unused family- and employment-based visas authorized from fiscal years 1992 through 2021. While the majority of recaptured visas will go to family-based applicants, the proposal will help to alleviate family- and employment-based backlogs. The proposal also includes $2.8 billion to increase USCIS capacity, supporting adjudications and reducing processing backlogs.
Current Status of National Interest Exceptions
Thirty-three countries remain subject to COVID-19 travel restrictions affecting foreign nationals’ travel to the United States. The U.S. Department of State (DOS) continues to accept requests for National Interest Exceptions (NIEs) from the travel restrictions based on evolving criteria benefitting U.S. interests, such as support of critical U.S. infrastructure or direction of significant economic activity. Each consular post is responsible for processing NIEs within the post’s jurisdiction, and all approved NIEs are valid for 12 months from the date of approval when used for the same purpose for which they were granted. This 12-month period of validity also applies to newly issued NIEs. While the longer validity of NIEs is intended in part to reduce wait times for new waivers, applicants are still seeing delays of 30-60 days or longer for NIE adjudications at some consular posts. Applicants in need of a NIE should consider applying as far in advance of planned travel to the U.S. as possible. U.S. Citizens, Lawful Permanent Residents (green card holders), and foreign nationals with U.S. citizen spouses or minor children remain exempt from the travel restrictions.
Current Status of USCIS RFE Flexibility
In March 2020, USCIS announced flexibility for applicants and petitioners responding to Requests for Evidence, Notices of Intent to Deny or Revoke, and certain other requests and notices. In June 2021, USCIS announced that this accommodation extended to qualifying requests or notices issued between March 1, 2020 and September 30, 2021, inclusive. Unless USCIS extends this accommodation again this month, requests received on October 1, 2021 or after will require response by the due date listed on the notice.