October Visa Bulletin Analysis for Fiscal Year 2024
The October Visa Bulletin for Fiscal Year 2024 has been released, marking the beginning of the new fiscal year. This is the first visa bulletin of Fiscal Year 2024 and resets the annual visa quotas for all visa preferences. It sets the expectations for the rest of the fiscal year. This bulletin is a critical document for immigrants and visa applicants, as it outlines the annual visa quotas for all visa preferences and provides insights into what we can expect for the rest of the fiscal year. In this blog post, we’ll dissect the key takeaways from the October Visa Bulletin and discuss the implications for various visa categories.
EB-1 Visa Category
First and foremost, the good news is that the EB-1 visa category is now current again for the rest of the world. China did not advance much at all despite the fresh visa quota. The priority date for Chinese EB-1 applicants only moved to 2/15/22 from 2/1/22 in September, the final action date initially established in January 2023.
In August, the final action date for India EB-1 moved from 2/1/22 to 1/1/12 – retrogressing 10 years. While the dates have moved forward at the start of FY2024, back to 1/1/17, they have not returned to 2022 priority dates as we previously expected. This indicates that backlogs for EB-1 and other employment-based preferences for Indian nationals are likely to persist due to increasing demand from the rest of the world for EB-1, EB-2, and EB-3 visas.
EB-2 Visa Category
In the EB2 visa category, we see a similar trend of limited advancement. The rest of the world has moved back to where it was last April, reflecting increased demand. It was last current in November 2022. India only advanced by one year, while China made minimal progress, moving from 7/8/19 to 10/1/19. These stagnated final action dates suggest that the backlog for EB2 visas is firmly entrenched.
EB-3 Visa Category
In the EB3 visa category, we saw 3 visa retrogressions for the rest of world, beginning in May 2023, when the final action date of 6/1/22 was established and fell to 5/1/22 by the end of the fiscal year. While the annual visa quotas have been refreshed, a backlog persists, now with a final action date of 12/2/21.
India is only 1 month ahead of where it was last year at 5/1/12. China has advanced to some degree with a new final action date of 1/1/20, advancing 18 months over the last year.
EB-5 Visa Category
EB-5 is current for the rest of world in both the unreserved and reserved visa lines. Last year, in March 2022, Congress passed the EB-5 Reform and Integrity Act. This established new visa set asides where new EB-5 investors investing $800,000 in rural, high unemployment, or infrastructure projects would have separate visa lines. The unreserved reflects all those who filed before March 2022, or new investors who invest in non-TEA $1 million projects.
For China, the situation remains challenging, with minimal advancement in the final action date. Despite the reset of visa quotas, China advanced by less than 1 month, from 9/8/15 to 10/1/15. India, on the other hand, has seen progress, exceeding expectations. For India, it was expected to return to final action date set in April 2023, which was 6/1/18. Fortunately, it advanced further, from 4/1/17 last September to 12/1/18. This is progress, but we need to see further advancement this year – which we might see if Chart B is a reliable indication.
Chart B – Dates for Filing
Chart B provides hope for improvement. Chart B provides estimates of where final action dates are expected to be by the end of the fiscal year. While not guaranteed, this chart indicates progress. For China, in the EB5 category, it moved from 1/1/16 to 1/1/17. But for India, it advanced from 12/8/19 to 4/1/22. The Date for Filing table is important for a couple reasons: first, if your priority date is before the date for filing, then you can file your visa application.
For those in the US, seeking to adjust status, USCIS will indicate whether you must follow the Chart A – Final Action Dates or Chart B – Dates for Filing. In recent months, it’s been Chart A. For October 2023, USCIS has indicated that you can follow Chart B – Dates for Filing to file the I-485 adjustment of status. This means that Indian EB-5 investors in the US with priority dates before April 1, 2022 may file their adjustment of status applications. This is crucial – many EB5 investors hadn’t realized under the new RIA policy, you can file your I-485 adjustment of status application if your priority date is current, even before your I-526 petition has been approved. This enables applicants to get their EAD card in around 3 months and your advance parole in 6-8 months.
Secondly, it’s also important because the date indicated in Chart B is often an estimate where the State Department expects final action dates will be by the end of the fiscal year as a measure of progress. This is not certain – last fiscal year, we saw the Dates for Filing remain the same with little to no advancement for EB5. But this is a significant jump and there is hope we will see improvement as USCIS and the State Department process the bulk of applications from India in late 2018 and late 2019.
EB-5 remains current for all countries, including India and China, in the new reserved visa categories. How long will they remain current is the key question for FY 2024 as we start seeing I-526E approvals for investors in both rural and HUA projects. We’ll explore this subject further in future videos and blog posts, so be sure to subscribe to our YouTube channel to stay up to date.
For fiscal year 2024, if October’s visa bulletin is any indication, we may see further entrenchment of visa backlogs in the employment-based visa preferences, particularly EB-1, EB-2 and EB-3 for China and India and very soon — again — for the rest of world as demand continues to grow. While we’ve seen some advancement, it has been limited, in part because we no longer have the boon of unused family-based visas that carried over during the Covid pandemic years.
For immigrants seeking alternative strategies, such as the EB-5 investor visa program, the final action dates remain current for new investors. With concurrent filing available for investor applicants in the US, you can get the benefits of the green card within 3 to 6 months while you wait for the actual green card to come. We have seen our EB-5 investors get their EAD or work permit in just 3 months. This has been extremely helpful, especially for H-1B families looking for back up plans, particularly in challenging economic climates.
If you’d like to learn more about the EB5 investor visa program and the concurrent filing strategy, click the button below to schedule a free consultation with our team.