Mid-Year Visa Bulletin Review

The U.S. Department of State (“DOS”) publishes a Visa Bulletin in the middle of each month that contains information related to current immigrant visa availability for the following month. We explain the importance of the Bulletin and the value of its details in our previous blog post.

The first half of the government’s 2024 Fiscal Year, which began in October 2023, is now behind us. Let us look at the progress of the Visa Bulletin at mid-year and discuss the prospects for the remainder of Fiscal Year 2024.

Overview of the April 2024 Visa Bulletin

The April 2024 bulletin shows modest advancement in several employment-based green card preference categories over the March 2024 bulletin. As of April 1, 2024, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (“USCIS”) and DOS can issue green cards to people with priority dates before the final action dates listed below. Note that the visa bulletin categorizes individuals based on the person’s country of birth, not country of nationality/citizenship. The priority date cut-off dates will change as follows as of April 1, 2024.

  • EB-1: Advances six weeks, to September 1, 2022
  • EB-2: Advances one month, to February 1, 2020
  • EB-3 Skilled workers: Remains at September 1, 2020.
  • EB-3 Other workers: Remains at January 1, 2017
  • EB-1: Advances five months, to March 1, 2021
  • EB-2: Advances six weeks, to April 15, 2012
  • All EB-3 Workers: Advances six weeks, to August 15, 2012
  • EB-1: Remains current (no backlog)
  • EB-2: Advances almost two months, to January 15, 2023
  • EB-3 Skilled workers: Advances over two months, to November 22, 2022
  • EB-3 Other workers: Remains at May 1, 2020
All Other Countries
  • EB-1: Remains current (no backlog)
  • EB-2: Advances nearly two months, to January 15, 2023
  • EB-3 Skilled workers: Advances over two months, to November 22, 2022
  • EB-3 Other workers: Advances one month, to October 8, 2020

What Does the April Visa Bulletin Mean?

There was some modest forward movement in the Final Action Dates chart in the April 2024 visa bulletin, which will be welcome news for those who may now receive their permanent residency/green cards. However, for much of the first half of Fiscal Year 2024, USCIS allowed applicants to submit the final application (Adjustment of Status) in their green card processes based on the “Dates for Filing” chart in the monthly Visa Bulletin. Following the April 2024 bulletin, USCIS announced that it will accept Adjustment of Status applications based on the later “Final Action Dates” chart.  This change means, in effect, that very few people became newly eligible to file Adjustment of Status applications in April. Rather, USCIS will be working through a backlog of applications received in the first half of the fiscal year.

Moreover, DOS now predicts there will be little to no forward movement of the visa bulletin for the remainder of the fiscal year. If an individual’s priority date isn’t current in the April 2024 visa bulletin, DOS believes it is unlikely to become current for the rest of the fiscal year (i.e., through the end of September 2024).

This is disappointing news to those who have been waiting for their opportunities to file Adjustment of Status applications for some time. In the case of employment-based applicants born outside of China and India, the last year has presented the longest and most significant retrogression and longest wait for a green card in many years. Those born in China and India may be more accustomed to longer waits, but the lack of progress is nonetheless disheartening.

For those waiting patiently for their priority date to come up in the monthly Visa Bulletin, options can seem limited. Applicants holding certain nonimmigrant status are able to extend their temporary stays in the United States, while those with strict time-limited statuses such as the L-1 may not be able to do so. For those individuals, options may be available to file petitions in upgraded preference categories, for cross-chargeability based on a spouse’s country of birth, or for another nonimmigrant status.

If you have questions about how the visa bulletin’s forward movement impacts you or your workforce, please contact a member of our Immigration and Nationality team.