This article was prepared with the assistance of ABIL, the Alliance of Business Immigration Lawyers, of which Loan Huynh, Fredrikson Immigration Department Chair, is a member.
According to the Department of State’s (DOS) Visa Bulletin for April 2023, the EB-4 category, which includes special immigrant religious workers, now has a worldwide backlog of 5+ years. Also, the EB-2 final action dates for Rest of World, India, Mexico and the Philippines have retrogressed several months to keep number use within the FY 2023 annual limit.
Previously, DOS was applying the per-country limit to the EB-4 subcategory, which made the “North Central American” (NCA) countries of El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras oversubscribed, but preserved religious worker current priority dates for all other chargeability areas. DOS has now announced that it interprets the limit to apply to the family/employment-based system as a whole and not within each category, meaning that because the NCA countries are not oversubscribed in the total family/employment system, DOS cannot set a cutoff for them just in the EB-4 category.
DOS is no longer including a separate column covering applicants chargeable to El Salvador, Guatemala or Honduras in the charts titled, “Final Action Dates for Employment-Based Preference Cases” and “Dates for Filing of Employment-Based Visa Applications,” for applicants who are seeking an immigrant visa in the EB-4 category. Final action and filing dates for applicants from these three countries are now provided in the column headed “All Chargeability Areas Except Those Listed.”
The Rest of World, Mexico and Philippines EB-2 final action dates retrogressed to July 1, 2022, and the India EB-2 final action date retrogressed to January 1, 2011. “This situation will be continually monitored, and any necessary adjustments will be made accordingly.”