Articles Posted in Consular Processing

Did you know? The Department of State is accepting online registrations for the Diversity Visa Program (Green Card Lottery) for fiscal year 2025 now through Tuesday, November 7th at noon EST. 

You won’t want to miss the opportunity to win one of 55,000 green cards available to certain nationals of countries with historically low rates of immigration to the United States.

To find out if you qualify for this program, just keep on watching this video!


Overview


What is the Diversity Immigrant Visa Program?


Every year, the Department of State runs the Diversity Immigrant Visa Program also known as the “Green Card Lottery.” It is a U.S. government program for obtaining permanent residency in the United States (a green card). The program is open to nationals from designated countries that have low rates of immigration to the United States and who meet specific educational requirements. It provides an inexpensive and relatively simple path to obtain a green card for individuals who may not otherwise qualify for permanent residence through any other alternative under U.S. immigration law.

Nationals of qualifying countries may register for the program for free at dvprogram.state.gov. You can apply for the green card lottery whether you live overseas or are currently inside the United States. Once the registration period has closed, the Department of State will conduct a random lottery to select those who will be eligible to apply for their green cards beginning October 1, 2024.

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Are you interested in learning about the green card wait times for family-sponsored and employment-based preference categories subject to the annual limits?

If so, then we invite you to watch this video about the newly released October 2023 Visa Bulletin. This is a Visa Bulletin you won’t want to miss because October is the start of a brand new fiscal year. The Department of State has confirmed that there will be an estimated 165,000 employment-based visa numbers allocated in fiscal year 2024, which ends on September 30, 2024.

USCIS has confirmed that it will accept adjustment of status applications filed in the month of October pursuant to the Dates for Filing chart for both family-sponsored and employment-based preference categories.

The October Visa Bulletin Dates for Filing chart shows advancement from last month for all employment-based categories except EB-3 worldwide, Mexico, and Philippines which will retrogress by 3-4 months; EB-1 India will also retrogress by two months.

The Dates for Filing chart for the family-sponsored categories remains unchanged from last month.


Highlights of the October 2023 Visa Bulletin


Here are some of the highlights of the October 2023 Visa Bulletin which marks the start of the new fiscal year 2024.

Employment Based Categories


Final Action cutoff dates:

  • EB-1: will advance by five years for India to January 1, 2017, and by two weeks for China to February 15, 2022. All other countries will be current in October.
  • EB-2: will advance by one year to January 1, 2012, for India, and by almost three months for China to October 1, 2019. All other countries will advance by one week to July 8, 2022, in October.
  • EB-3:  EB-3 Professional/Skilled Worker will advance by three years and four months for India, to May 1, 2012, and by four months for China to January 1, 2020. All other countries will advance by one year and seven months to December 1, 2021.
  • EB-5: For EB-5 Unreserved categories (C5, T5, I5, and R5) India will advance by one year and eight months to December 15, 2018, and by three weeks for China to October 1, 2015. All other countries will be current in October. The EB-5 set aside categories (Rural, High Unemployment, and Infrastructure) will also be current in October.

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Would you like to know how you can renew your U.S. visa in 2023? If so, then this video is right for you.


Overview


Your U.S. visa has expired and now it’s renewal time. In this video, attorney Jacob Sapochnick discusses the general process of applying to renew your U.S. visa in 2023 at a U.S. Consulate or Embassy overseas.

Please note that there are hundreds of different U.S. visa categories that have their own eligibility criteria and renewal requirements. The information provided here does not, and is not intended, to constitute legal advice. To obtain legal advice on your particular facts, case, or circumstances, please consult with a licensed immigration attorney.

For visa specific information and documentary requirements, applicants may contact their closest U.S. Embassy or Consulate.


Visa Renewal Steps


Here are the main steps that any applicant must take when renewing their visa at a U.S. Consulate or Embassy abroad.

Step One: Make sure that you qualify for your U.S. Visa Renewal

First and foremost, regardless of your visa type you must be prepared to provide documentary evidence to the Consular official to prove that you remain eligible for the renewal of your visa.

For example, if you are renewing a student visa you must provide your updated Form I-20 Certificate of Eligibility for Nonimmigrant Student Status to show that you remain eligible to study in the United States. If you are applying to renew your tourist visa, you must continue to demonstrate your eligibility such as proof of temporary stay, strong ties to your home country, proof of sufficient finances to cover your temporary stay, etc.

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If you are planning to study in the United States, you should be aware of the increasingly high rate of denials among F-1 and M-1 student visa applicants. If you are interested in learning more about this important topic, please keep on watching.


Overview


According to a new report released by several research institutions, the denial rates for student visas have increased dramatically in recent years. In this video, we will discuss why this has been happening and what you need to know if you are planning to study in the United States.

The report includes a statistical analysis covering a 7-year period from 2015 to 2022, which demonstrates an annual increase in the rate of denials with the greatest impact affecting F-1 student visa applicants. The regions with the highest rates of denial are reportedly Africa, South Asia, the Middle East, and South America.

Africa bore the greatest share of denials, with a denial rate sitting at 54% in 2022. This figure is concerning because over half of all African student visas were denied, when compared to denial rates of just 36% for Asian students and 9% for European students. South America came in second place, with more than a 50% increase in F-1 visa denial rates when compared to a 10% denial rate in 2015 and 24% denial rate in 2022.

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Want to know why the immigrant visa backlog is still a big issue in 2023? Then you won’t want to miss this blog post, where attorney Jacob Sapochnick tells you all you need to know about the visa backlogs.


Overview


So, you’ve filed your green card application and now your case is stuck in the backlogs. In this video we discuss what the green card backlog is and why it is still happening in 2023.


What is a green card backlog?


A green card backlog occurs when there have been significant delays in the processing and approval of applications for adjustment of status to permanent residency (also known as green card applications filed with USCIS) and/or immigrant visa applications awaiting interview scheduling at U.S. Consulates and Embassies abroad.

While the backlog has always existed to some extent, mandatory quarantines and social distancing protocols occurring during the Coronavirus pandemic worsened delays in green card processing. Additionally, the annual numerical limits for family-sponsored and employment-based preference categories limit the number of green cards that can be issued every year, therefore causing delays among millions of applicants who must wait for their “priority date” to become current on the Visa Bulletin, before becoming eligible to apply for their green card. For many of these categories, demand for visas far exceeds the number of available visas which causes a backlog of applicants waiting for their turn at the front of the line.

Furthermore, the Immigration and Nationality Act imposes a per-country limit on the number of green cards that can be issued by country of nationality. Therefore, applicants from countries that experience a high demand for visas such as India, China, Mexico, and the Philippines have much longer wait times when compared to other foreign nationals.

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In this video, attorney Jacob Sapochnick provides a brand-new update regarding the current Immigrant Visa backlogs for those currently going through Consular processing (waiting for an interview at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate overseas), as well as those with cases at the National Visa Center.

What you need to know is that from the period of June to July 2023, there has been nearly no movement in the Immigrant Visa backlog. At the same time, there has been a decrease in the number of people who were actually scheduled for Immigrant Visa interviews at U.S. Consulates and Embassies overseas from June to July as indicated in the figures below.

Therefore, while the backlog remains the same, more and more people are being scheduled for visa interviews.

If you want to know what you can expect moving forward, please keep on watching.

Did you Know? Every month the Department of State’s National Visa Center (NVC) publishes an Immigrant Visa Backlog report, which provides data and statistics relating to the current status of worldwide visa operations, including the number of documentarily complete immigrant visa cases currently at the National Visa Center waiting for interviews, the number of cases that were scheduled for interviews at the end of each month, and the number of immigrant visa cases still waiting to be scheduled for a visa interview after interview appointment scheduling was completed at the end of each month


Overview


According to the National Visa Center’s Immigrant Visa Backlog Report for the month of July 2023, there has been a very modest increase in the immigrant visa (IV) backlog rising from 351,337 pending cases in June to 351,821 pending cases in July.

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Want to know all about the August 2023 Visa Bulletin? Then you’ve come to the right place.

In this video, we share with you the latest movement in the family-sponsored and employment-based preference categories for the month of August.

There will be significant retrogression of the final action date in the EB-1 India preference category by 10 years and 1 month to January 1, 2012.

Additionally, a final action cutoff date for all countries in the EB-1 category, except China, will be imposed at August 1, 2023.

The EB-3 Professionals and Skilled Workers final action date will also retrogress by 1 year and 9 months to May 1, 2020, except for India which will remain at January 1, 2009, and China which will advance by 2 months to June 1, 2019.

In the family-sponsored categories, the dates for filing cutoff dates remain the same as the previous month, except F-1 Mexico which will advance by 2 years and 3 months to April 1, 2005, and F2B Mexico which will advance by 2 years and 4 months to August 1, 2004.


Here are some of the highlights of the August 2023 Visa Bulletin starting with the family-sponsored categories.


Employment-based categories Highlights


*Final Action cutoff dates – Retrogressions in August:

For employment-based preference categories, adjustment of status applicants must use the Final Action Dates chart in the Department of State Visa Bulletin for August 2023.

  • EB-1 India will retrogress by more than 10 years to January 1, 2012
  • EB-1 Worldwide, China:
    • The State Department has imposed a final action cutoff date for EB-1A Worldwide for all countries except China, at August 1, 2023.
    • The EB-1 China Final Action Date will remain at February 1, 2022.
  • EB-2 Worldwide, China:
    • EB-2 China will advance by one month, to July 8, 2019.
    • The Final Action Date for EB-2 India will remain at January 1, 2011.
    • The EB-2 Worldwide Final Action Date will advance by six weeks, to April 1, 2022, for all other countries.
  • EB-3:
    • The Final Action Date for EB-3 China Professional/Skilled Worker will advance by two months, to June 1, 2019.
    • EB-3 India Professional/Skilled Worker will remain at January 1, 2009.
    • For all other countries, the EB-3 Professional/Skilled Worker Final Action Date will retrogress by almost two years, to May 1, 2020.

Prediction: We predict that by October 2023 the EB-1 final action dates will advance significantly, depending on usage and on the FY 2024 annual numerical limit which will reset in October (the start of the fiscal year).

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In this video attorney Jacob Sapochnick explains how you can apply for an F-1, J-1, or M-1 international student visa in 2023 in 10 easy steps.

In 2022 we saw a significant rebound in the number of international students applying for visas to study in the United States with over 1.3 million students coming to the United States from 227 countries.


Overview


Essentially there are 3 types of student visas: the F-1 visa for academic students, J-1 visa for exchange visitors, and M-1 visa for vocational students. We discuss each of these visa categories in turn down below.


F-1 Visa for Academic Students


The F-1 nonimmigrant visa category allows you to enter the United States as a full-time student at an accredited college, university, seminary, conservatory, academic high school, elementary school, or other academic institution or in a language training program. You must be enrolled in a program or course of study that leads to a degree, diploma, or certificate and your school must be authorized by the U.S. government to accept international students.


J-1 Visa for Exchange Visitors


The J non-immigrant visa category is for individuals approved to participate in work-and study-based exchange visitor programs. Such programs may be for the purpose of teaching, instructing, or lecturing, studying, observing, conducting research, consulting, demonstrating special skills, receiving training, or to receive graduate medical education or training.

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In this video attorney Jacob Sapochnick shares some good news for international students seeking to change their status to F-1, F-2, M-1, M-2, J-1, or J-2 nonimmigrant status while in the United States.

Separately, we are happy to report that international student enrollment has returned to pre-covid numbers according to statistical information provided in the last year.


Overview


For the first time in many years, international student enrollment has made a comeback since the pandemic began. Visa numbers have continued to increase from 2021 all the way through 2023.

By way of illustration, in the year 2022 alone, there were over 1.3 million active students in F-1, M, and J status in the United States. This represents an increase of over 10% from the previous year.

International students were one of the biggest groups of applicants that were adversely impacted during the pandemic. This was due to the suspension of in-person instruction at colleges and universities nationwide, and the temporary suspension of visa services at Consulate and Embassies worldwide.

We have seen a dramatic change in the past year with record increases in student visa applications and student visa approvals for international study.


Statistics of the International Student Rebound


Here are some of the statistics of the international student rebound this past year:

  • California attracted the most international students in the year 2022
  • In the year 2022, international students came to the United States from over 227 countries
  • 70% of these students came from Asia (China and India)
  • India issued the most student visas in the year 2022

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In this video, and just like every month we cover the movement in the family-sponsored and employment-based preference categories of the July 2023 Visa Bulletin.

We are seeing some big advancements in the family-sponsored categories next month, as well as some retrogressions in the final action dates for the employment based third preference category (EB-3) for all countries except China.

Before we jump into our analysis, let’s first go over some of the highlights of the July 2023 Visa Bulletin starting with the family-sponsored categories.


Family-sponsored categories Highlights


*Dates for Filing cutoff dates – Advancements in July:

  • F-1 Mexico will advance by 1 month
  • F-1 China, India, World will advance by 8 months
  • F2B Mexico will advance by 3 months
  • F3 China, India, World will advance by 3 weeks
  • F4 China and World will advance by 1 month
  • F4 Mexico will advance by 2 weeks

Final Action cutoff dates – Advancements in July:

  • F1 Mexico will advance by 3 weeks
  • F2B Mexico will advance by 2 months
  • F3 China, India, World will advance by 2 weeks
  • F3 Mexico will advance by 2.5 months
  • F4 China and World will advance by 2 weeks

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