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New Fiscal Year. New Visa Numbers

October marks a new fiscal year for the U.S. government. This makes the October Visa Bulletin the first for the year. It includes the new total of allowed visa numbers for both family-sponsored and employment-based visas. We want to help you understand what the numbers mean, and how you can use this tool for yourself.

Compared to September, the amount of visa numbers is way higher. That’s because each year starts with a full amount of visa numbers allowed by the law.

For family-sponsored visas, the minimum annual number is 226,000.
For employment-based visas the number is 140,000.

At the beginning of a new fiscal year, family-based visas that were NOT used in the prior year can be added to the new fiscal year’s employment-based numbers. Due to COVID-19, a number of consulates were closed for several months in 2020. That’s why the number of issued family-based visas was down in 2020, and why employment-based immigration is up for fiscal year 2021.

Also, travel bans put into place by the Trump administration in 2020 reduced usage of visa numbers, thus increasing the number rolling over into fiscal year 2021 starting this October.

How to Use the Visa Bulletin – A Quick Guide

The Visa Bulletin is used by the U.S. government to keep track of visa numbers. It is also used by immigrants as a good tool for determining when it becomes a non-citizen’s turn to process at the consulate for an immigrant visa or to file a Form I-485 for adjustment of status in the U.S.

Confirming You Can File – Three Steps

Step 1: Find the “priority date” on your Form I-130 or I-140 approval notice.

Step 2: Match country of birth and visa category in the visa bulletin chart. The approval notice will indicate the visa category.

Step 3: Compare the date from the visa bulletin (known as the “cutoff date”) to the priority date from the approval notice.

A priority date earlier than the cutoff date in the visa bulletin signifies the availability of an immigrant visa. Also, you may see a “C” where the cutoff date should be – this indicates that all priority dates are current in that category. i

The Importance of Acting Fast

A bulletin is only valid for one month and a new one is issued on the first of each month. The cutoff date in the visa bulletin may, and often do, change from month to month. Cutoff dates can even move backwards occasionally. Thus, it is important to move forward with consular processing or filing for adjustment as soon as possible when your priority date is current.

If a new month’s Visa Bulletin shows that a priority date is no longer current in the middle of an application, the Consulate cannot approve a green card, the immigrant cannot file Form I-485, and USCIS cannot approve a filed application.

CONFUSED? STILL HAVE QUESTIONS? YOU CAN ALWAYS COME TO ANTONINI & COHEN WITH ALL YOUR IMMIGRATION QUESTIONS. WE ARE HERE TO HELP.

For you and your family’s immigration needs, the attorneys at Antonini & Cohen understand the visa application and adjustment of status processes. We can help you act quickly when you become eligible based on the visa bulletin. Visit us online or call us at (404) 850-9394 for assistance with any immigration issue you’re facing.

Marshall Cohen
Marshall Cohen

Marshall Cohen is one of the founding principals of Antonini & Cohen. Admitted to the Georgia Bar in 1989, he has practiced immigration law exclusively for over 30 years. Mr. Cohen practices all areas of immigration law including family and employment cases, temporary and permanent visas, naturalization, deportation defense, and federal litigation.

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