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As Fiscal Year 2022 comes to a close, US Citizenship and
Immigration Services (USCIS) signaled it has used nearly all
available employment-based immigrant visas for the fiscal year and
will exhaust the supply of visas by the end of September.
Specifically, USCIS confirmed in a court declaration filed on September 6 that
“as of September 6, 2022, there are no visas remaining for
applicants from any country of chargeability in EB1 or
What is an immigrant visa?
There are two paths for eligible foreign nationals to obtain
lawful permanent residency in the United States. Those outside the
U.S. can apply for an immigrant visa at a U.S. Embassy/Consulate,
which is part of the Department of State. Once they receive the
immigrant visa and move to the U.S., they will receive a permanent
resident card (aka green card) from the USCIS. Those inside the
U.S. in a lawful non-immigrant/temporary status can obtain
permanent residency by applying to adjust their status to that of a
Lawful Permanent Resident. They will receive a green card from the
USCIS upon approval of their application. In this article, unless
specified otherwise, “immigrant visa” refers to both
immigrant visas issued abroad and green cards issued in the
How many immigrant visas are available?
Congress sets annual limits to the number of green cards or
immigrant visas that can be issued. Today, there are 366,000
available annually, with a specific quota for each category. There
are two main types of green cards: family-based green cards
(226,000 available annually) and employment-based green cards
(140,000 available annually).
Congress also limits the number of available green cards based
on country of origin. Under this annual “per-country
cap,” no single country of origin can account for more than 7%
of the green cards in either category, which means that applicants
from countries with high numbers of applications, such as China,
India, Mexico or the Philippines, may face a substantial wait.
There’s an exception to this “per-country cap”: if
the rest of the world will not use all the immigrant visas, the 7%
per-country cap won’t apply.
As a direct result of COVID-19 lockdowns and limited resources
at U.S. Embassies and Consular offices in the past three years,
many family-based immigrant visas that the DOS did not process were
carried over into the employment-based category the following year.
In FY 2021, the number of employment-based immigrant visas was
increased by more than 120,000 because of the number of
family-based immigrant visas unused in FY2020. However, due to
processing delays, USCIS didn’t finish issuing immigrant visas
for all the cases and more than 66,000 employment-based immigrant visas went
unused in FY2021.
In FY2022, there were an additional 140,000+ employment-based immigrant
visas due to unused family-based immigrant visas carried over
How do I know when I can apply for an immigrant visa?
Each month, in coordination with the Department of State, USCIS
monitors visa numbers and posts the relevant DOS Visa Bulletin
chart. Applicants can use the charts to determine when to apply for
adjustment of status or an immigrant visa. For a more detailed
discussion about the visa bulletin, please check our July 2021 blog post.
What happens after the USCIS has used nearly all available
employment-based immigrant visas for FY2022?
Now that USCIS has issued all the available immigrant visas in
FY2022 (more than 280,000), USCIS will not be able to approve any
additional I-485 applications during the month of September, and
those applications for adjustment of status will remain pending
until visas become available again in FY2023. However, USCIS should
continue accepting applications for adjustment of status this month
in accordance with the current September 2022 Visa Bulletin.
What will happen in FY2023?
DOS has released its first Visa Bulletin for FY2023 and
currently estimates the FY2023 employment-based annual limit will
be approximately 200,000, which includes 60,000 unused family-based
immigrant visas carried over from FY2022. This annual limit will be higher than was typical
before the pandemic, though lower than in FY2021 and
In October 2022, employment-based applicants under EB-2 and EB-3
with a priority that is earlier than the date listed below for
their preference category and country are eligible to apply for
adjustment of status:
The “C” listing indicates that the category is
current, and that applications for adjustment of status may be filed
regardless of the applicant’s priority date.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general
guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought
about your specific circumstances.
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