The U.S. Department of State has released its Visa Bulletin for January 2023. At a glance, the bulletin says the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will accept employment-based adjustment of status applications from foreign nationals next month that have a priority date earlier than the Dates for Filing listed in the January 2023 Visa Bulletin. But there’s more.
If you have been waiting for your priority date to be current to proceed with your green card application, then this update is a big deal. This article will walk you through key developments and the filing category that is most relevant to you.
If you’re not yet familiar with the visa bulletin and related terms like “priority date,” “cut-off date,” and so on, we’ve also got you covered. We will also walk through how to read a visa bulletin and what to look out for.
Overview of January 2023 Visa Bulletin
The Department of State issues this visa bulletin every month, disclosing two pieces of information: which green card applications can proceed (depending on the initial date the I-130 petition that starts the green card process was filed) and the duration of which you can get your green card (depending on how quickly the “queue” moves).
In other words, you can consistently check the visa bulletin issued every month to track your place in line after filing your I-130 petition.
Now, the January 2023 visa bulletin primarily contains two charts:
Dates for Filing Visa Applications chart: An indication of when intending immigrants may file their applications for adjustments of status or immigrant visas
Application Final Action Dates Chart: Indicates when applications for adjustment of status or immigrant visas may be approved and permanent residence granted.
The USCIS chooses which chart it will follow each month. And for January 2023, the service will follow the Dates for Filing chart for employment-based (EB) filings for adjustment of status.
What does this mean to you? If you’re seeking to file applications for adjustment of status with the USCIS in January, you will have to use the Dates for Filing chart as provided below:
Final Action Dates
This chart shows which priority dates have reached the front of the line and are now current. According to the Department of State, these green card applications are ready for approval.
|EB-1||a priority date cut-off of February 1, 2023||has a priority date cut-off of February 1, 2023||EB-1 remains current for all other countries|
|EB-2||remains unchanged with a priority date cut-off of June 8, 2019||remains unchanged with a priority date cut-off of October 8, 2011||EB-2 remains unchanged with a priority date cut-off of November 1, 2023|
|EB-3||remains unchanged with a priority date cut-off of August 1, 2018||remains unchanged with a priority date cut-off of June 15, 2012||EB-3 remains current for all other countries|
Dates for Filing
|EB-1||has a priority date cut-off of June 1, 2023||has a priority date cut-off of June 1, 2023||EB-1 remains current for all other countries|
|EB-2||remains unchanged with a priority date cut-off of July 8, 2019||remains unchanged with a priority date cut-off of May 1, 2012||EB-2 remains unchanged with a priority date of December 1, 2023|
|EB-3||remains unchanged with a priority date cut-off of September 1, 2018.||remains unchanged with a priority date cut-off of August 1, 2012||EB-3 remains current for all other countries|
Final Action Dates for Family-Sponsored Preference Cases
|All Chargeability Areas Except Those Listed||CHINA-mainland born||INDIA||MEXICO||PHILIPPINES|
Dates For Filing Family-sponsored Visa Applications
|All Chargeability Areas Except Those Listed||CHINA-mainland born||INDIA||MEXICO||PHILIPPINES|
|F1||08AUG16||08AUG16||08AUG16||01DEC and 02||22APR15|
Categories that are designated “C” are current, which means all applicants in such a category can file applications for a green card regardless of their priority date.
Diversity Immigrant (DV) Category For January 2023
According to the Department of State, there is a reduction in the DV-2023 annual limit to approximately 54,850. This visa category is shared among six geographic regions, as no single country can receive more than 7 percent of the available diversity visas per year.
For January 2023, immigrant numbers in the DV category are available to qualify DV-2023 applicants, chargeable to all regions and eligible countries as illustrated in the table below:
|Region||All DV Chargeability Areas Except Those Listed Separately|
|AFRICA||20,000||Except: Algeria (11,000), Egypt (7,000), Morocco (12,000)|
|ASIA||9,000||Except: Iran (5,500), Nepal (5,500)|
|EUROPE||15,000||Except: Russia (12,000), Uzbekistan (8,500)|
|NORTH AMERICA (BAHAMAS)||5|
|SOUTH AMERICA, and the CARIBBEAN||1,200|
Understanding Key Terms In The Visa Bulletin
Priority date: The priority date on the visa bulletin represents your position on the green card line. It is the day the USCIS received your I-130 petition and is included on the I-797 form mailed by USCIS that approves your I-130 petition.
Chargeability area: Your green card is charged on par with the annual quota of green cards allotted to citizens of your country of birth. So the chargeability area is the country of birth of the green card applicant.
Immediate relative: When a U.S. citizen has a parent, spouse, or child under age 21, they are referred to as “immediate relatives,” whether they reside in or outside the United States.
There is no annual limit to the number of green cards available for immediate relatives of U.S. citizens. This means that there is no backlog, wait time, or anything to see in the visa bulletin regarding this category. Hence, relatives of U.S. citizens (spouses) can apply for green cards after the I-130 petition is filled out and approved.
Current: When a priority date reaches the front of the line and the green card is available for issuance, then it becomes ‘Current.’
In other words, “current” means there is no wait time or backlog for a green card, as far as the visa bulletin goes. Some categories on the visa bulletin can be current when there is no wait time at all in that category.
Cut-off date: On visa bulletin tables, “cut-off dates” are at the front of the green card line. You can submit your green card applications if your priority dates are before the cutoff dates. If otherwise, then you have to keep waiting for the next bulletin issue.
How To Read The Visa Bulletin Update – Preference Categories
Green cards available to family-based categories have a cap that is based on four primary preference categories. When reading the visa bulletin, here are the categories to check, depending on your status:
|Preference categories||Meaning||Cap on green cards|
|F1 (first preference)||Unmarried adults (age 21 and over) who are children of U.S. citizens.||23,400 green cards per year.|
|F2 (second preference)||Spouses and unmarried children of green card holders||114,200 green cards per year|
|F3 (third preference)||Married children of U.S. citizens, regardless of age||23,400 green cards per year|
|F4 (fourth preference)||Brothers and sisters of U.S. citizens||65,000 green cards per year|
NOTE: The F2 (second preference) is further divided into two sub-categories:
The F2A represents spouses and unmarried minor children (under age 21) of green card holders.
The F2B represents unmarried adult children (age 21 and over) of green card holders.
You should focus on the former and its status on the visa bulletin if you’re a green card holder applying for a green card for your spouse. This F2A sub-category takes 87,934 green cards per year out of the 114,200 green card cap for the principal category.
On the other hand, the F2B sub-category takes 26,266 green cards per year, which is just 23 percent of the category quota.
Why is the wait for a green card shorter for the F2A category?
The F2A category moves faster than other family-based preference categories. While this is awesome for spouses of U.S. green card holders, there are two reasons for this.
First, the subcategory has a green card cap of 87,934, which is the largest quota. Apart from this, the country of birth for a spouse applying for a green card is not relevant compared to applications in other categories.
It explains why the wait for a green card is much shorter for the F2A category than it is for any other family-based preference category.
Visa Bulletin 2023: The Bottom Line
The Visa Bulletin is an update to keep an eye on if you or your family are green card holders and you’re planning on applying for a green card.
The summary of the January 2023 Visa Bulletin is that there is little movement in the employment-based category but no adjustment in the family preference categories. However, there is retrogression for China and India in the employment-based, first-preference EB-1 category.
The FastLagos team will continue to keep an eye on the trends and progression of the Visa Bulletin.
In the meantime, you can navigate to the Department of State’s official website to get more information regarding the visa bulletin 2023 HERE
If you have any questions or would like to schedule a consultation with our immigration experts and researchers, please send an email to [email protected].
How often do they update the Visa Bulletin?
The Department of State updates the Visa Bulletin every month. Key developments of the bulletin are issued monthly to show which green cards can proceed, depending on the date that the I-130 petition was filed to begin the process.
How many green cards will be available in 2023?
Before the release of the 2023 visa bulletin, there was a projection that employment-based green cards would expand by 41 percent in FY 2023. Normally, the USCIS awards 140,000 green cards per fiscal year to workers and their families in the five employment-based categories.
For 2023, there will be about 57,000 more of them, especially due to the shortfall in the number of family-based green cards in FY 2023.
Is EB3 permanent?
Yes, the EB3 visa rewards permanent residency (a “green card”) to qualified applicants. Individuals who are eligible for the EB3 visa are skilled and unskilled workers or professionals. According to the Department of State, there are 40,000 EB3 visas available each year.
How many people are waiting in EB2?
The data on the US Immigration website of applications waiting for green cards shows that a total of 369,322 Indian applicants who have approved employment visa petitions are awaiting visa availability under the EB2 and EB3 categories.
According to a clause in the Congressional Research Service analysis in 20230, the backlog for professionals and skilled workers will increase from 627,448 to 1,471,360 people by FY2030, while the EB3 backlog will increase from 168,317 to 456,190 people.
What is the 5-year rule for a green card?
The five-year rule for green cards means that green card holders who meet key conditions can apply for U.S. citizenship only after five years.
The caveat, however, is that individuals with a green card and a U.S. spouse can apply after only three years of marriage. This is called the three-year rule for a green card.