Your Guide to the December 2021 Visa Bulletin, What to Expect, and More!

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


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 December 2021


Please note that USCIS has not yet released information on its webpage regarding the appropriate filing chart to be used for family-sponsored adjustment of status filings and employment-based adjustment of status preference filings for December 2021. We recommend that applicants monitor the USCIS webpage below on a regular basis for those updates.


December 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 December 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 India and China, will remain current.
  • EB-2: India will advance by five months to May 1, 2012, and China will advance by six weeks to January 1, 2019. All other countries will remain current.
  • EB-3 Professionals and Skilled Workers: EB-3 India and China will remain the same as the previous month. EB-3 India retrogressed to almost two full years to January 15, 2012 in the November 2021 Visa Bulletin. EB-3 China also retrogressed by about nine and a half months to March 22, 2018 in the November 2021 Visa Bulletin. All other countries will remain current.
  • EB-5: The Non-Regional Center program will be current for all countries, including China. 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.

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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 the October 2021 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 last month’s Visa Bulletin (November 2021), the State Department explained that the new retrogressions were “a direct result of extraordinarily heavy applicant demand for numbers” in the EB-3 India and China visa categories 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 the October 2021 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.

To read our transcript of the October 2021 Visa Bulletin Chats with Charlie YouTube broadcast please click here


Family Sponsored Categories


According to the Department of State’s December 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 the November 2021 Chats with Charlie YouTube broadcast with Charlie Oppenheim he stated that with respect to the family categories, he did not see any forward movement for the foreseeable future, “With the possible exception of Mexico or the Philippines, those family dates might be able to advance in certain categories, but otherwise for all other countries I do not foresee any type of forward movement of family dates. In terms of any retrogression of the Philippines employment dates, I do not foresee that either.”

To read the November 2021 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.


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Your Guide to the December 2021 Visa Bulletin, What to Expect, and More!