The U.S. Department of State (DOS) has released the October 2023 Visa Bulletin. This new bulletin brings encouraging news for many, with significant progress over the previous month in most categories. The October bulletin also marks the start of the 2024 fiscal year. Introducing new visa numbers has brought advancements in the Final Action Dates and Dates for Filing charts.
The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) also followed this news with its own announcement. The agency confirmed it would accept adjustment of status applications from the Dates for Filing Chart. This decision is a change from the Dates for Final Action Chart. In September 2023, the USCIS used this chart to determine eligibility for employment-based adjustment of status.
This announcement will affect foreign nationals with priority dates earlier than those listed in the October 2023 Visa Bulletin filing chart. Those who fall under this timeframe may file an Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status (Form I-485) with the USCIS. Key changes for those in the employment-based categories resulting from these changes include:
Furthermore, the USCIS also updated its frequently asked questions. The FAQs confirmed that the 2024 fiscal year will have approximately 165,000 employment-based visa numbers available for allocation. These advancements represent the sudden availability of new visa numbers for the 2024 fiscal year. However, USCIS also cautioned the public about becoming too optimistic about these advancements.
The agency explained that it issued “an unprecedented number of employment-based green cards in fiscal years 2022 and 2023” due to the carryovers from the family-based categories. These carryovers occurred because of the significant reduction in family-based applications during the pandemic. Now, the USCIS expects an increase in family-based applications. Consequently, the agency expects a reduction in the number of carryovers to the employment-based categories.
Employers must ensure compliance as widespread changes occur across the regulatory environment. This requirement has proven especially difficult when completing the employment eligibility verification (Form I-9) process. The best way to remain compliant with the I-9 process is to incorporate an electronic management system into the hiring process. This system helps maintain uniform compliance by providing step-by-step guidance, electronic storage, and helpful reminders.
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