The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) reported that 66,781 employment-based immigrant visas (Permanent Resident/Green Cards) went unused in the last fiscal year. This fiscal year, which ends on September 30th, the USCIS wants to keep this from happening again.
Employment-based immigrant visas do not roll over into the following fiscal year. In contrast, family-based visas that remain at the end of the fiscal year roll into the employment-based immigrant visas for the next.
This loss of employment-based visas hurts both foreign nationals and employers. First, it means fewer workers for U.S. employers in a time of labor shortages. Also, it keeps these foreign nationals from obtaining a green card, which would enable them to stay in the United States indefinitely and have unimpeded work authorization.
USCIS Plans To Avoid Loss of Visas
The USCIS plans to avoid losing employment-based visas again this fiscal year, such as:
- “Prioritizing the processing and adjudication of employment-based adjustment of status applications and underlying petitions at our lockbox intake facilities, the National Benefits Center, our service centers, and our field offices;
- Continuing to apply risk-based interview waiver determinations for employment-based adjustment of status applications, enabling us to adjudicate most applications without an interview;
- Working collaboratively with DOS to ensure that the dates in the Visa Bulletin have been significantly advanced to allow for the filing and adjudication of sufficient immigrant visas and adjustment of status applications;
- Allowing applicants to use the Dates for Filing chart in the DOS Visa Bulletin through May 2022;
- Providing overtime funds and supplemental USCIS staff to support employment-based adjustment of status and underlying petition processing and adjudication;
- Prioritizing adjudication of underlying immigrant visa petitions (after accounting for premium processing) to focus our efforts on beneficiaries who may receive immigrant visas in FY 2022;
- Eliminating a major backlog of noncitizens awaiting biometrics appointments, which stood at 1.4 million in January 2021, and launching a biometric reuse process to reuse for certain applicants to create efficiencies;
- Redistributing employment-based adjustment of status workloads between offices and directorates to match the workloads with the available resources;
- Publishing communication materials in January, February, March, and April 2022 notifying the public that USCIS lacked sufficient inventory in the EB-1 and EB-2 categories and encouraging eligible noncitizens to consider applying for adjustment of status in those categories;
- Establishing a new process and a dedicated single mailing address for receiving requests from the employment-based adjustment of status applicants who wish to transfer their pending adjustment of status applications to a different employment-based category;
- Publishing communication materials about this new transfer of underlying basis process, encouraging eligible noncitizens to consider submitting requests;
- Publishing communication materials encouraging potential adjustment of status applicants to include a valid Form I-693, Report of Medical Examination and Vaccination Record, with their adjustment of status applications;
- Proactively identifying applications that lack a valid Form I-693 and issuing requests for evidence;
- Since December 9th, 2021, in collaboration with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, temporarily waiving the requirement that the civil surgeon sign Form I-693 no more than 60 days before an applicant files for adjustment of status, through September 30th, 2022; and
- Initiating an ambitious hiring plan to fill 95% of the agency’s vacancies by the end of the calendar year 2022. This additional personnel will expand our capacity to process and adjudicate all pending applications, petitions, and requests, including employment-based visas.”
It is crucial to allocate the employment-based visas by the end of the fiscal year. Failure has often resulted in the loss of these issuances despite the USCIS having record backlogs for employment-based visa petitions. This year, the USCIS looks to avoid repeating previous years’ failures.
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