A blog about U.S. immigration matters by Paul Szeto, a former INS attorney and an experienced immigration lawyer. We serve clients in all U.S. states and overseas countries. (All information is not legal advice and is subject to change without prior notice.)

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Tuesday, September 22, 2020

Visa Bulletin Predictions - October 2020 - Major EB Advancements Expected


As we are getting close to the new fiscal year, the October visa bulletin is expected to be published very soon. The ongoing pandemic makes it difficult for AILA to get DOS Visa Office Chief Mr. Charlie Oppenheim's insight about the upcoming visa bulletin. But AILA does provide some pointers by analyzing the conversations they had with Charlie and the visa bulletins for the same period in the past few years. 

Being the first month of the fiscal year, October will bring a new batch of available visa numbers by law. However, substantial advancement is not expected in Family-Based categories due to the temporary closure of the overseas visa offices during the pandemic. Movement of the Employment-Based 5th preference category (EB-5) will also likely be limited for the same reason. 

For the other Employment-Based categories, as anticipated by Charlie in July, the available visa numbers could be significantly increased with the unused Family-Based numbers from fiscal year 2020. The law allows that unused visa numbers from the previous fiscal year be used in the following year.  Charlie expected in July that the FY2021 Employment-Based numbers to be "at least 250,000", which is significant.

For FY2021, usage of the Family-Based immigrant visas is expected to remain low due to ongoing pandemic and the travel and visa bans imposed by the Trump administration. Although many consular offices are starting to reopen, they are mostly only accepting appointments for emergencies and special situations but have not yet resumed the regular visa services. 

There is a possibility that all Employment-Based categories in October 2020 will immediately become current, just like the summer of 2007.  But that possibility is dampened by the diminished agency processing capacity, caused by budgetary challenges and possible furlough of USCIS workers.  In other words, USCIS may not have the resources to handle a large influx of cases within a short period of time. 

There are also some pending bills for recapturing unused Family-Based visas back to the Family-Based categories in FY2021. But they are not likely to be passed any time soon. 

USCIS has also scheduled major fee increases and form revisions to take effect on October 2, 2020.  However, new versions of the forms have not been published yet and lawsuits have already been filed to challenge the fee increases in court.    

In sum, we are expecting to see significant forward advancements in the Final Action Dates of Employment-Based visa categories for October.  Applicants should be prepared to file their I-485 Application to Adjust Status very soon by conferring with their attorneys and collecting the required documents such as birth certificates and status documents. 

The October visa bulletin should be released in the next few days. Keeping abreast of the latest developments is very important for immigrant visa applicants during this unpredictable time.


(Immigration laws and policies change regularly.  If you have any questions regarding this article, please visit www.1visa1.com to schedule legal consultation.) 

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