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January 2022 Visa Bulletin | Analysis and Prediction

One of the most significant parts of getting a green card in the U.S. is waiting for your priority date to be current. For those that have invested the time, effort, and money into an immigrant visa, questions arise such as “How long will it take for my date to be current?” and “Can I speed this process up?” We provide regular monthly updates on the most recent visa bulletin, analyze the date movements, and predict upcoming months to help answer these questions. This month, we’ll go over the January 2022 visa bulletin.

If you want more information on the background of the visa bulletin and how to read the bulletin, make sure to scroll to the bottom of the post or click the interested link in the Table of Contents.

January 2022 Visa Bulletin: Overview and Predictions

Minor Movement to Family-Based Dates for Filing Chart and Final Action Cutoff Dates,  No changes in the Employment-Based Dates for Filing Chart since the December Visa Bulletin.

We see some minor changes in the Family-Based Dates for Filing Chart. In the F-2A category, China, India, Mexico, Philippines and the rest of the world advance one month to October 1, 2021. No change is seen in the F-2B category apart from Mexico which advances to March 1, 2001. In the F-3 and F-4 category minimal change is seen. Mexico advances to October 8, 2000 in the F-3 category and to August 22, 1999 (+21 days) in the F-4 category.

In the Employment-Based Dates for Filing Chart EB-1 and EB-5 (non-regional center) categories are also current. We see no change for India or China in the EB-2 category or EB-3 category. EB-2 China remains at April 1, 2019 while India is at July 8, 2013. EB-3 China sees no change and remains at April 1, 2018 and India is at January 22, 2012. You’ll notice from the official Visa Bulletin that the EB-5 Regional Center category is unavailable. That’s because the program has expired and should Congress decide to renew it then the cutoff dates for EB-5 China  (non-regional and regional center cases) would be November 22, 2015.

To clarify, the Final Action Dates chart determines when an I-485 or IV can be approved, while the Dates for Filing Chart determines when an applicant can file an I-485. In addition, the U.S. Department of State has created a new monthly Visa Bulletin video, led by Charlie Oppenheim, Chief of the Visa Control and Reporting Division, to expand on the insights contained within the visa bulletin.

Family-Based Green Cards

The category for family-based immigration comprises four preference levels based on who your sponsoring family member is in relation to you. There are five chargeability areas for this category: China, India, Mexico, the Philippines, and all other countries. Due to the global pandemic and limited appointments at overseas consular offices, family-based immigrant visas continue to see low usage numbers. Therefore, any family-based visas that are unused get added to the EB categories.

Family-Based Dates for Filing Charts

The Dates for Filing chart determines when an applicant can file an I-485. We see minor changes (advancement +1 month) to all countries in the F-2A category. The only change in the F-2B category is with Mexico which advances to March 1, 2001. Minor changes are seen in the F-3 and F-4 categories. Mexico advances to October 8, 2000 in the F-3 category and to August 22, 1999 (+21 days) in the F-4 category.

For the purposes of the January 2022 bulletin Adjustment of Status, USCIS has indicated to use the Final Action Dates Chart for applicants in the F2A category for Family-Sponsored filings. Other family-based preference categories should use the Dates for Filing chart. 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.

*The numbers in the brackets designate the amount of movement in the date of filing for that particular category compared to the previous month. If there’s no bracket below certain dates, that means there is no movement for those dates/categories in the latest visa bulletin.

Family-Based Final Action Date Charts

Here are the final action dates for family-based immigrant visas from the January 2022 visa bulletin. We see no change for any country except for Mexico in the F-1 category. Mexico advances four months to September 8, 1999. All countries are current in the F-2A category and we see minimal change in the other categories apart from Mexico advancing two months to September 1, 2000 in the F-2B category and advancing two months as well in the F-3 category to September 15, 1997. No change is seen for any country in the F-4 category apart from Mexico which moves +38 days to April 22, 1999.

*The numbers in the brackets designate the amount of movement in the final action date for that particular category compared to the previous month. If there’s no bracket below certain dates, that means there is no movement for those dates/categories in the latest visa bulletin.

Remember, marriage-based green card applicants are known as immediate relatives and don’t have to wait to receive a green card.

Employment-Based Green Cards

With five different preference levels and seven chargeability areas, the employment-based category is issued through your job or occupation. The chargeability areas are China, India, Mexico, the Philippines, Central America (Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador), Vietnam, and the general category.

Employment-Based Final Action Dates Chart

We see minor movement in the January 2022 employment-based Final Action Dates Chart compared to the November bulletin. The cutoff date for EB-2 India moves to July 8, 2012 (+68 days) and EB-2 China advances to January 22, 2019. We see no change in the dates for EB-3 India or China. All countries in the EB-5 (non-regional center) category are current. EB-5 Regional Center is unavailable across the board. EB-4 Mexico doesn’t see any change since the last visa bulletin either. It remains at April 1, 2020. “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.”

USCIS has specified to use the Dates for Filing Chart in the Department of State January Visa Bulletin for all employment-based preference categories apart from the EB-5 preference category (not accepting any new adjustment of status applications until program is reauthorized). 

Employment-Based Dates for Filing Chart

Here are the January 2022 Visa Bulletin Final Action dates for employment-based immigrant visas. In the Dates for Filing chart, we don’t see any change from the last bulletin. All countries in the EB-1 category are current. EB-2 China remains at April 1, 2019 while India remains at July 8, 2013. All countries in the EB-4 category (apart from Central America) are current. Central America maintains the same date from the last Visa Bulletin at May 15, 2019.

EB-5                (regional)

*The numbers in the brackets designate the amount of movement in the final action date for that particular category compared to the previous month. If there’s no bracket below certain dates, that means there is no movement for those dates/categories in the latest visa bulletin.

 

Important November 2021 Visa Bulletin Dates

For those that are new to the green card process, there are a few terms that you should learn and keep in mind to understand the rest of this November 2021 visa bulletin report. If you have further questions about the process or anything else about your green card, you should consult with your immigration attorney.

Priority Dates

The first term that you’ll hear thrown around is the priority date. Each person who files a petition with the USCIS receives a priority date, which is the day that the government obtained your petition. A priority date establishes a person’s place in line to get an immigrant visa. Keep this date handy since you will need it to compare to the dates found in this bulletin. Remember that your priority date does not move, and you cannot change it except under certain circumstances.

Note: Priority dates are not relevant for immediate relatives of U.S. Citizens (e.g., spouses or minor children) as that category is always current.

Final Action Dates

Final action dates are based on the green card category and the chargeability area—your country of origin. Therefore, the final action dates are constantly changing based on how many people from each chargeability area have petitioned for that particular green card.

If the limit for that green card has not been reached, then the final action date will likely move forward closer to your priority date. If the limit has been reached, you will not see any movement from that final action date. If the limit has been passed, you may see the date retrogress or move backward away from your priority date.

Once the final action date in your green card preference level and chargeability area reaches your priority date, your priority date will be considered “current,” and you will be able to adjust your status or go through consular processing to obtain your green card. Some of the dates are already current, which means that you can get your green card as soon as your petition is approved without having to wait for your priority date.

Date for Filing Charts and I-485

You’ll notice two charts below for each category.

The Date for Filing chart determines whether or not one can submit the final immigrant visa application.

The Final Action Date chart indicates whether or not it is expected that an immigrant visa number will be available.

If you need to file an adjustment of status, Form I-485, you need to follow the Final Action Date chart to know when to file is based on your priority date. However, sometimes USCIS will note that they’ll accept I-485s based on the Date for Filing chart. This is done when there are more immigrant visas available than applicants.

USCIS announces which chart applicants can use within a week of the visa bulletin’s release.

Can You Shorten Your Waiting Time?

The short answer is: probably not. However, there are two prominent cases in which you may be able to shorten your green card processing time, which we will explain here.

The first way is to file an I-140 for a green card and chargeability area with a current priority date. In this case, rather than have to wait the usual six months for your petition to be processed, you can opt to pay an additional fee for premium processing, which will shorten the processing time to 15 calendar days. However, this is only available for certain green cards that use the I-140. It is not available for family- or investment-based immigration and unavailable for the EB-1C or EB-2 NIW.

The second situation involves green card “porting,” or transferring your application from a lower preference level to a higher one to take advantage of the shorter waiting times. This is a bit misleading because you don’t actually port your green card. In reality, you need to start over with a new petition (and a new PERM if necessary). The “porting” aspect only comes in when you indicate that you want to retain your original priority date.

As attractive as “porting” might seem, it is a very delicate process with particular requirements. Therefore, it is always a good idea to run decisions like these through your immigration attorney.

Staying Up-to-Date

In the world of immigration law, it always pays to be informed. The more you know about your green card, the easier it will be to make informed decisions about your case. To stay in the know about things like the March 2021 visa bulletin, you can subscribe to the Department of State’s newsletter by emailing [email protected] with the message “Subscribe Visa Bulletin.”

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