Visa Bulletin for May Discusses Expiration, Imminent Unavailability of Certain Visa Categories

May 10, 2017

By Immigration Group

This article was prepared with the assistance of ABIL, the Alliance of Business Immigration Lawyers, of which Laura Danielson is an active member.

Guy opening a door to a brick wallSeveral visa categories are due to expire or become unavailable soon. The Department of State’s Visa Bulletin for May 2017 includes the following information:

Scheduled Expiration of Two Employment Visa Categories

Employment Fourth Preference Certain Religious Workers (SR):

Pursuant to the continuing resolution signed on December 10, 2016, the non-minister special immigrant program expires on April 28, 2017. No SR visas may be issued overseas, or final action taken on adjustment of status cases, after midnight April 27, 2017. Visas issued prior to this date will only be issued with a validity date of April 27, 2017, and all individuals seeking admission as a non-minister special immigrant must be admitted (repeat, admitted) into the U.S. no later than midnight April 27, 2017.

The final action date for this category has been listed as “Unavailable" for May. If there is legislative action extending this category for FY-2017, the final action date would immediately become "Current" for May for all countries except El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Mexico which would be subject to a July 15, 2015, final action date.

Employment Fifth Preference Categories (I5 and R5):

The continuing resolution signed on December 10, 2016, extended this immigrant investor pilot program until April 28, 2017. The I5 and R5 visas may be issued until close of business on April 28, 2017, and may be issued for the full validity period. No I5 or R5 visas may be issued overseas, or final action taken on adjustment of status cases, after April 28, 2017.

The final action dates for the I5 and R5 categories have been listed as "Unavailable" for May. If there is legislative action extending them for FY-2017, the final action dates would immediately become "Current" for May for all countries except China-mainland born I5 and R5 which would be subject to a June 1, 2014 final action date.

Special Immigrant Visa Availability

The Department expects to exhaust the Special Immigrant Visas allocated by Congress under the Afghan Allies Protection Act of 2009, as amended, not later than June 1, 2017. As a result, the Final Action Date for the SQ category for certain Afghan nationals employed by or on behalf of the U.S. government in Afghanistan will become “Unavailable” effective June 2017. No further interviews for Afghan principal applicants in the SQ category will be scheduled after March 1, 2017, and further issuances will not be possible after May 30, 2017.

The SQ category for certain Iraqi nationals employed by or on behalf of the U.S. government in Iraq is not affected and remains current, though the application deadline was September 30, 2014.

The FY-2017 annual limit of 50 Special Immigrant Visas in the SI category was reached in December 2016 and the Final Action Date remains "Unavailable." As included in the January 2017 Visa Bulletin, further issuances in the SI category will not be possible until October 2017, under the FY-2018 annual limit.