The United States issued more permanent visas in FY 2022 to immigrants overseas than in other recent years. This increase amounted to almost half a million permanent visas. This success resulted in an impressive rebound after the significant decrease in approvals that occurred early in the COVID-19 pandemic.
Immigrants in other countries have several options for moving to the United States. However, these options typically involve a family member or employer sponsoring the immigrant. Otherwise, other options include the United States refugee program. This program helps provide a safe place for people experiencing war or persecution in their home country.
In the twelve months that concluded September 30th, the Department of State reported issuing 493,000 visas to overseas immigrants seeking permanent residence. This report is an increase of 73% over FY 2021 and 7% over FY 2019, which concluded before the effects of the pandemic.
Unlike temporary work visas, an immigrant visa grants holders the ability to live and work in the U.S. for life and gain permanent resident status. In addition, a permanent resident can apply for U.S. citizenship after a set period with an immigrant visa.
According to preliminary statistics from a major news network, the State Department’s statistics show that visa approvals increased dramatically. For example, it had reached levels not seen since before FY 2020, when the pandemic caused a drop in visa processing due to closures at consulates and embassies. According to the State Department, this has reduced the backlog by 30%.
Despite this reduction of unresolved cases and improved processing, the State Department still faces a considerable backlog. Unfortunately, hundreds of thousands of cases still await resolution. In addition, many visa applicants still face enormous wait times for required interviews. In some cases, applicants have waited upwards of two years. For some consulates and embassies, processing capacity has remained below pre-pandemic capacity. However, processing capacity has seen improvements over time.
Though immigrant visa issuance has returned to pre-pandemic levels, temporary visa issuance has not. In FY 2022, State Department data reported issuing nearly seven million temporary visas. These numbers include those for tourists, employees, business travelers, and others. This data is a marked increase over the previous two years. However, it remains below the average levels seen in the 2012 through 2019 fiscal years, which generally ran about nine million per year.
Employers and others who rely on the State Department to issue these visas likely welcome these improvements. However, significant improvements remain necessary in some areas.
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