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.
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.
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.
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
Are you going through the immigrant visa process, waiting for your interview to be scheduled at a Consulate or Embassy overseas? Then this video is right for you. We will provide the latest updates including which Consular posts are open, their processing times, and which posts are experiencing long wait times as of June 2023.
Embassies and Consulates around the world are beginning to ramp up their processing of immigrant visas, with the hiring of additional personnel to reduce the visa backlogs.
During the Coronavirus pandemic, immigrant visa cases have been warehoused at the National Visa Center (NVC) while awaiting interview scheduling at U.S. Embassies and Consulates abroad. Due to the high demand for visa interviews, most Consular posts have not been able to accommodate the majority of applicants who are still waiting for their appointments to be scheduled.
Unfortunately, the National Visa Center (NVC) is not able to forward cases to Embassies and Consulates until they have received confirmation that the post has available interview slots.
This is the case even if your case is documentarily qualified and even if your priority date is current on the Visa Bulletin. Your case cannot be forwarded to the Embassy or Consulate until they have confirmed that an interview slot is available for you.
On the other hand, if your case has not been documentarily qualified (meaning all documentation has been received by the NVC), or your priority date is not current on the Visa Bulletin, then your case will not be scheduled for an immigrant visa interview.
Are you or a family member interested in applying for a B1/B2 Visitor Visa to the United States? Would you like to know some useful tips that may help you schedule your tourist or non-immigrant visa interview appointment faster in 2023?
If so, then this is the right video for you! Learn all about this important topic and how you can minimize visa interview wait times with our helpful tips.
The Department of State recently announced that they will be allowing B1/B2 visitor visa applicants and certain other types of nonimmigrants, the ability to schedule their visa interview appointments outside of their home country at some select American embassies as a third country national (TCN).
For example, if you are a foreign national of a country experiencing very high visa demand such as India, China, etc., you may be allowed to schedule your visa interview appointment in another country as a third country national (such as a neighboring country with shorter waiting periods).
This new announcement will be useful for applicants who have been waiting over a year to get a tourist visa interview appointment in their home countries.
U.S. Embassies in India are now encouraging certain applicants to apply for their tourist visas at Consular posts such as Bangkok, Thailand, which is among the U.S. missions where Indian nationals can get an appointment for B1/B2 tourist visas in 2023 outside of India.
As an example, the current wait time to get a B1/B2 tourist visa interview appointment at the U.S. Embassy in Bangkok, Thailand is about 30 to 35 days, compared to a wait time of over one year at most missions throughout India. This will benefit Indian nationals who are already residing in Bangkok, or who have the ability to travel there for their appointments.
Non-immigrant Visa Processing for Third Country Nationals
A third-country national (TCN) is a citizen of a “third” country that seeks to apply for a non-immigrant visa type in a country where they are not ordinary resident (and where they do not hold citizenship) with their third-country passport.
Certain U.S. Consular posts and Embassies accept and process non-immigrant visa applications from third-country nationals. For instance, non-immigrant visas for Ukrainian and Russian nationals may be processed and scheduled at the U.S. Embassy in Warsaw, Poland.
Likewise, Pakistani nationals who had their cases at the U.S. Embassy in Islamabad, have been able to transfer them to U.S. Consular posts in neighboring countries for interview scheduling.
While this practice has been occurring for at least the past year, previously it was not widely available for non-immigrant visa types, because U.S. Consular posts required applicants to maintain residency in the countries in which they applied.
Due to the growing non-immigrant visa backlogs caused by the pandemic, U.S. Embassies and Consulates have shown greater flexibility in allowing third country nationals to seek appointments outside of their home countries, despite not residing there. This is the case especially in countries with substantial visa delays like India, Pakistan, and the Philippines. Foreign nationals from these countries can apply for their B1/B2 tourist visas and non-immigrant visas in neighboring countries where interview wait times are much more reasonable.
As the summer approaches, applicants simply cannot afford to wait over a year for a visa interview appointment. Therefore, applying as a third country national outside your home country, can greatly improve your chances of receiving an interview appointment in much less time with fewer headaches.
If you found this information helpful, please share it with a friend or family member.
Contact us. For help applying for a non-immigrant visa as a third-country national, we invite you to schedule a consultation, please text 619-483-4549 or call 619-819-9204.
In this video, attorney Jacob Sapochnick answers some of your burning questions including whether you can expedite your marriage or fiancé(e) visa case in 2023, how long the process is currently taking, and other related questions.
If you would like to know more about this topic, please keep on watching!
The Coronavirus pandemic has caused a number of obstacles for fiancé(e)’s and spouses of United States citizens residing overseas. As many of our readers know, at the height of the pandemic, the Department of State announced the suspension of all routine visa services including immigrant and nonimmigrant visa appointments worldwide. Since Embassies and Consulates were shuttered for a significant period of time, this created a backlog of cases piling up at the National Visa Center due to visa interviews not being scheduled during the suspension.
It was not until July 2020, that U.S. Embassies and Consulates began a phased resumption of routine visa services on a post-by-post basis. Despite this announcement, many Consular posts have continued to place restrictions on their operating capacity due to local country conditions, workforce limitations, and public safety protocols.
In the past year or so, the processing of marriage and fiancé(e) visas has been impacted by this slow return to a sense of normalcy. U.S. Consulates and Embassies in certain countries have eased pandemic restrictions and are working normally, while others have struggled to catch up with the rest of the world. As a result, visa interview appointments for spousal and fiancé(e) visas have been very limited.
In this video, attorney Jacob Sapochnick provides an update regarding the recent increase in the Immigrant Visa backlogs, which grew to more than 21,000 additional cases in the month of February alone.
If you would like to know more about this important update, 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.
According to the National Visa Center’s Immigrant Visa Backlog Report for the month of February 2023, there has been a substantial increase in the immigrant visa (IV) backlog rising from 386,787 pending cases in January to 408,456 cases in February — nearly a 6% increaseamounting to a jump of 21,669 additional cases added to the backlog in just a one-month period.
Additionally, when comparing the January and February Immigrant Visa backlogs, we can see that the number of immigrant visa applicants whose cases were documentarily complete and therefore ready to be scheduled for an interview at Consulates and Embassies increased by 21,874 cases, from 422,954 (in January) to 444,828 (in February).
A case is considered documentarily complete by the National Visa Center, when the applicant has paid all necessary fees and submits all necessary documents to meet the formal visa application requirements, such that the case is ready to be scheduled for a visa interview. When a case becomes documentarily complete, the NVC sends applicants an email to notify them that their case is complete and pending scheduling at the local Consulate or Embassy.
Welcome back to the Immigration Lawyer Blog! In this video, attorney Jacob Sapochnick shares the most up to date information regarding the current status of U.S. visa services at U.S. Consulates and Embassies worldwide.
Many of our viewers have been asking us to provide a new update regarding visa operations in the year 2023. Here we provide a roundup of everything we know about this important topic.
Keep on watching to find out more.
As you might remember, the Department of State first suspended routine visa services at U.S. Consulates and Embassies worldwide during March of 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Slowly, but surely, Embassies and Consulates began a phased resumption of routine visa services, scheduling visa interviews according to local country conditions.
Today, Coronavirus restrictions have been lifted worldwide. Approximately 96 percent of U.S. Embassies and Consulates are interviewing visa applicants, while processing nonimmigrant visa applications at 94 percent of pre-pandemic monthly averages, and immigrant visa applications at 130 percent.
In the past 12 months (through September 30, 2022), DOS reported processing 8 million non-immigrant visas. The agency expects to soon meet or exceed pre-pandemic visa processing capacity.
The waiver of in-person visa interviews for several key visa categories has been an important part of driving down the substantial visa backlogs. For instance, DOS has been waiving in-person interviews for many students and temporary workers integral to supply chains. In addition, applicants renewing nonimmigrant visas in the same classification within 48 months of their prior visa’s expiration can apply for visas without an in-person interview in their country of nationality or residence. This has dramatically reduced the wait time for an interview appointment at many Embassies and Consulates.
The State Department estimates that 30 percent of worldwide nonimmigrant visa applicants may be eligible for an interview waiver, freeing up in-person interview appointments for those applicants who still require an in-person interview.
In this video attorney Jacob Sapochnick, brings you the latest updates regarding the rates of immigrant and non-immigrant visa approvals at U.S. Consulates and Embassies worldwide.
The latest Immigrant and Non-immigrant Visa Issuance Reports recently published by the State Department demonstrate that both immigrant and non-immigrant visa approvals are increasing significantly, nearly returning to pre-pandemic visa processing levels.
If you want to know more just keep on watching.
Did you know? Every fiscal year, the Department of State releases the Immigrant and Non-immigrant Visa Issuance Reports which include important statistics and data relating to current immigrant and non-immigrant visa backlogs at U.S. Consulates and Embassies worldwide. The data includes information regarding the number of immigrant and non-immigrant visas being issued at each Consular post worldwide, and a complete breakdown of visa issuance numbers by visa category.
Do you have a case waiting to be processed by the National Visa Center? In this video, attorney Jacob Sapochnick discusses the latest updates on visa processing and interview scheduling in the new year.
This includes information regarding current visa backlogs and what you can expect from the National Visa Center.
If you would like to learn more about this important topic, just keep on watching.
Did you know? For immigrant visa petitions, the National Visa Center (NVC) functions as an intermediary between USCIS and the Embassy or Consulate that will eventually schedule your immigrant visa interview.
After the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has approved your I-130 or I-140 immigrant visa petition, USCIS will forward your petition to the National Visa Center (NVC) in Portsmouth, New Hampshire. The NVC will complete immigrant visa pre-processing once your priority date becomes current pursuant to the Visa Bulletin.
Immediate relative categories do not have yearly numerical limits and pre-processing can begin once your case has reached the NVC. However, other family preference and employment-based immigrant categories have annual numerical limits, preventing pre-processing from taking place until the priority date is current.
Are you applying for a green card or immigrant visa? Want to know whether the COVID-19 vaccine is required to immigrate to the United States?
Then this is just the right video for you. In this video you will learn all about the COVID-19 vaccination requirement from the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), as well as other useful information regarding the Form I-693, Medical Examination and religious exemptions to the vaccination requirement. This information is being provided to help you understand the medical examination requirements and prevent the issuance of a Request for Evidence.
Did You know? Last year, USCIS announced the COVID-19 vaccination requirement which impacted all adjustment of status applications and medical examinations, filed on or after October 1, 2021.
This means that if you submit your Form I-693 medical examination on or after October 1, 2021, you are required to complete the entire COVID-19 vaccine series (1 or 2 doses depending on formulation) and submit evidence of vaccination to your civil surgeon. During your medical examination appointment, your civil surgeon will inspect your vaccination record to make sure you have all of the necessary vaccinations, and discuss your vaccination history with you before signing the I-693 medical examination.
If you submitted your Form I-693 before October 1, 2021, then are not required to complete the COVID-19 vaccine series in order to obtain your adjustment of status.